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Critical Mass: Styli-Style Expands Flat Pencil Technology

Grant Berry, creator of Styli-Style, changed the round world of eye pencils to flat with his Flat Pencil in 2003.

NEW YORK — Grant Berry, creator of Styli-Style, changed the round world of eye pencils to flat with his Flat Pencil in 2003. Now he’s bringing the same concept to mechanical pencils, which make up a significant portion of the $230 million eyeliner market.

“Flat Liner is an evolution of both the flat pencil concept and the evolvement of the automatic liner, but we’re bringing it to the next level,” said Berry during a press event Wednesday introducing the new item.

Flat Liner 24 will bow in CVS, Duane Reade, Longs, Ulta, Harmon, Bed Bath & Beyond and specialty beauty stores this spring. The unique mechanical pencil pairs 24-hour coverage with the flexibility of flat pencil application. Also, the multifunctional item allows users to produce thick, thin and medium lines thanks to a three-dimensional tip.

“The Flat Liner appeals to women who prefer a semipermanent liner versus the Flat Pencil, which is more blendable,” explained Berry. “Our consumer is definitely someone who appreciates makeup and innovation along with the different angles we introduced in the product’s performance that your basic user would not.”

Another consumer selling point, according to Berry, is that the automatic liner renders three times more product than traditional pencils. Unlike the Flat Pencil, the chiseled point of the mechanical pencils never needs sharpening. The Flat Pencil requires a specially designed sharpener.

While the instructions might seem complicated at first, the Flat Liner can actually save the consumer time once the technique is mastered. At the product’s launch event, makeup artist Nick Barose said that the Flat Liner is very consumer-friendly.

“This versatile product combines the long-lasting formula with the automatic pencil,” said Barose. “A lot of times when I have to do smoky and dramatic eyes, I have to use three different pencils or shadows. The Flat Liner really combines all of it.”

Still, Berry doesn’t think that the Flat Liner will replace flat pencils entirely. However, he does feel that the flat pencil is a better shading tool.

“There are women out there who love semipermanent products and there are others who like blendable products too,” said Berry. “There’s a market for both of them.”

The Flat Liner 24 retails for $7.50 and will be integrated into an existing cube fixture on the peg wall at chains such as CVS and Longs. “We had a section of the cube allocated to it,” said Berry. “We now cover all the bases in eyeliner needs in that one fixture.” There are six shades in the initial launch.

Barose feels that consumers will be excited once they see the quality and durability of the product.

“I think that they are going to really love it due to the 24-hour long-lasting formula. Right now there are lots of pencils out there that are waterproof but there’s a big difference from waterproof and semipermanent,” said Barose.

The eyes apparently have it at retail these days. While the last few years have been dominated by lip products, especially transfer-resistant formulas, sales are now growing quickly in the eye category.

Barose likens the current trend to looks from the Sixties.

“You really want a product that won’t fade because the beauty of this look is about that hyper-perfect application,” said Barose. “We’re really moving more toward eye makeup being more decorative and more of a statement, and more about perfection.”

According to ACNielsen, eyeliner and shadow sales, excluding Wal-Mart, grew from $210 million to $230 million — nearly 9 percent — between 2004 and 2005.

“When I first started in the business in the Seventies, eye products outsold lip [products] three to one, then it switched to lip outselling eye. Now eyes are back,” explained Berry. The influence of British Mod styles is also fueling the use of more eyeliners.

Berry is an example of a handful of niche manufacturers surviving in a retail environment where larger chains are looking to move more business to megavendors. Berry has garnered precious shelf space with innovative items including the Flat Pencil, but also Line & Seal, the Kajal Bullit and L3 Timeless. One drugstore buyer for a top-four chain said she’s made room for Berry’s items in her planograms because “they add something different than the L’Oréals of the world.”