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Central Park Serves as Backdrop to Walk While Talking About Beauty

Walsh merged her love of Central Park with her passion for business to create an online program called Walk with Walsh featuring beauty brand founders.

Jennifer Walsh has been a retailer — she created the Beauty Bar in 1998 — a brand marketer, an on-air beauty expert and a consultant.

Recently she is often found in Central Park filming “Walk with Walsh,” an online series. She strolls through the park interviewing innovators, including beauty founders, such as Indie Lee. Central Park is so central to her life she wears a necklace with the coordinates of the Bethesda Fountain.

When not in the Park, Walsh is advising beauty brands and will serve as HSN’s resident beauty gift guru on the Thursday Beauty Report through the rest of the holiday season. WWD asked Walsh about her Walk series as well as misfires she sees happening in beauty companies.

WWD: What prompted “Walk With Walsh?”

Walsh: I wanted to tell other people’s stories. After being in front of the camera for 18 years I have met and heard small snippets of people and brands. I have also spent a lot of time in towns all over the country and had the opportunity to meet so many small business owners and those that are making an impact within their local communities. A Walk with Walsh is a platform wherein I am able to dive deep into brand stories and the people behind the brands.

WWD: What is something you’ve learned in your recent work in the beauty business?

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Walsh: There are so many “fake entrepreneurs” out there doling out really bad advice and I think it is important for those who have walked the walk to be able to talk their talk. What I’ve taken away from doing this, but always knew, is that your story is your brand. Beauty brands and all brands need to become not only more hyper-localized but more personalized. Think about all of the beauty brands that have an actual person at the helm, customers and potential customers line up to meet the founder at events around the country. Throw a brand out there without a real person, with an authentic story, on a real mission and people don’t care as much. Don’t get me wrong, throw a celebrity in a mix and a brand can sell a product but that does not build brand loyalty.

WWD: What are the common mistakes your see, especially with new brands?

Walsh: The missteps I see is that everyone is just trying to be like everyone else. There are a few brands that are doing great at being real and true to who they are and their real DNA and where they are but so many are just trying to get a slice of the money pie without building a brand on passion or real need.

Beauty brands are forgetting the true nature of our actual business, feeling and emotion. We are in the beauty industry and there is a lack of beauty, where did it go?

Brands are also a part of the “me too” sensation of throwing thousands if not millions of dollars at influencers or celebrities to sell a product but again, this does not create brand loyalty it creates sales for a product. There are partnerships that work, but it has to be a partnership. People and potential customers see what brands are doing and become very turned off by this whole idea.

Brick and mortar, online, and social channels should breathe a brands DNA, their specific look, their feeling, who they are at their core.

WWD: What is one piece of advice you give brands?

Walsh: Use video! I am still, to this day, stunned that more brands are not using video in all of their social platforms. Again, we are in the business of beauty and feeling and connection. This should be done through web sites, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat — all to lead back to a brand story. Brands are looking for outsiders such as insiders to tell their brand stories, yet they forgot to look at the powerful voices around them to do this internally.

WWD: Looking into the future, what trends do you see in beauty?

Walsh: I think we are about to see the resurgence in a big way in indie beauty, like we did in the mid nineties. There are some truly innovative creators out there telling unique stories and are creating healthy beauty products. I am seeing that the average customer is becoming more and more fearful of what is in their products, how it is made, where it is made, and the animal abuse involved making these products. This is also why I think mass is stuck.