Beautyblender is simplifying as it plots a pandemic-proof path forward.
In May, the company found a chief marketing officer in Tomoko Yamagishi-Dressler, who previously spent 20 years at Shiseido Americas Corp. as an executive in marketing and sales. Yamagishi-Dressler joins Beautyblender as it prepares to release two new products that embody a minimal aesthetic that founder Rea Ann Silva said she finds to be “where I’m the most comfortable.”
Always On Radiant Skin Tint is a buildable, long-wear foundation with the texture of a serum and the skin benefits — hyaluronic acid and niacinamide — to match. Priced at $29, it comes in 20 shades, half the size of Bounce’s 40-shade offering, as each Skin Tint shade “can stretch from lighter or darker depending on how you sheer it out,” Silva told WWD.
“It’s hard for me to fathom leaving the earth and not creating the perfect complexion product,” she said. “Complexion products [are] not necessarily theatrical, they’re problem-solving, easy-to-use, corrective but invisible. We’ve seen 54 steps, and it’s beautiful, but this is my sweet spot.”
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Skin Tint comes in glass packaging with a dropper applicator that is both a nod to Silva’s history as a professional makeup artist and a useful hygienic measure for pandemic times. Skin Tint will launch alongside Liquid Whip Cream Blush, $22, a cream-to-powder blush that comes in four shades packaged in see-through PCR plastic.
Silva declined to offer sales projections for both products, but industry sources estimate Skin Tint and Blush will do between $10 million and $15 million in first-year retail sales.
Both products will launch exclusively at Sephora. Beautyblender is also available at Ulta and will be available at Sephora at Kohl’s and Ulta at Target, both of which are expected to drive up Beautyblender’s brick-and-mortar business, which, unsurprisingly, took a hit during COVID-19.
“We’re very much into brick-and-mortar because of two reasons: first, the [company’s] starting point preempts the influencer market; secondly, the tools business is more a brick-and-mortar business because of impulse-buying,” said Carsten Fischer, Beautyblender’s president.
Business became “overwhelmingly digital” in 2020, Fischer said, though brick-and-mortar has since picked up.
“We sold six-digit units of our foundation in Sephora alone over the last 12 months,” Fischer said.
In April 2020, when COVID-19 prompted lockdowns throughout the U.S., Silva told CNBC television that she had furloughed 67 of her 115 employees. Speaking to WWD, Fischer said the business, which remains fully owned by Silva, has been exercising “financial discipline.”
“We are a company that needs to be very conscious about resources,” Fischer said. “It’s limited, but that also forces you to be more innovative, more deliberate in your choices and smarter. We have utilized the last couple of months to change our organization, add new capabilities and make sure that the funds we have are supportive not only of the launch, but of a sustained success. For this, we have to reduce working capital, making sure that we are lean, that our cash conversion cycle is correct and all of that.”
Since Fischer joined Beautyblender in 2019, he has changed Silva’s approach to hiring, the founder said.
“In the past, the mind-set was the busier we got, the more we hired,” Silva said. “The unfortunate part of COVID-19 was restructuring. We don’t have any financial backers or banks to say, ‘Can you lend me money?’ I am now smarter about the way I hire people. Before, I would look for a singular expertise. Now I look at someone that has experience in other areas, and I find that helps with the synergy of the team.”
Restructuring also involved refocusing on Pennsylvania as Beautyblender’s headquarters and warehouse and Los Angeles as its product development center.
“That helps us to scale up better and work as an integrated team,” Fischer said.
With Yamagishi-Dressler now part of the leadership team, Beautyblender is focused on improving its digital experience. Already, it has shade-matching tools of its own, and customers shopping via Sephora’s website can use the retailer’s shade-matching capabilities, too.
Beautyblender will focus on expanding digital storytelling on its own website, and with the new products entering Sephora at Kohl’s and Ulta and Target, Yamagishi-Dressler sees much new consumer opportunity.
“The makeup enthusiasts know us very well,” Yamagishi-Dressler said. “What I’ve learned in a short period of time is that this is amazing for people who are novice, maybe not so comfortable applying makeup. That is the new frontier. We are testing a lot of influencer marketing, even new moms — somebody who’s busy but also professional. I think there’s a huge opportunity there, and a huge opportunity to build complexion beauty leveraging Rea Ann’s expertise as a professional makeup artist. Our tools and products exist to make things easy for the consumer.”
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