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E.l.f. Beauty Has the Need for Speed

New items are created from concept to shelf within months rather than years.

E.l.f. Beauty is one of the fastest-growing public companies in the business. But it isn’t only that speed that Tarang P. Amin, chairman and chief executive officer of E.l.f. Beauty, said has made the brand a favorite with beauty shoppers.

The 14-year-old E.l.f. has become an industry giant by delivering something consumers were told they could not have — quality on a budget. “We appeal to young, diverse makeup enthusiasts. We offer great, fast and affordable beauty. Our products compare to the best in beauty.” The average retail for E.l.f.’s lineup is $3. The brand’s quest for being fast has paid off with more than 70 products bringing beauty trends once available only at prestige to mass.

Speed to market is part of E.l.f.’s DNA and what consumers demand. “This is a generation who can tap a button for a ride, a button for food and can have products delivered on the same day,” he explained. “We’ve geared our entire company to make that speed [in cosmetics],” he said. E.l.f. can produce a product from idea to shelf in 22 weeks, versus three years at large and less nimble firms, according to Amin who has worked for big, medium and small companies.

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Experience with those same large entities, however, is coveted at E.l.f. “We hire from many big consumer packaged goods companies. We tell them there are no barriers and to think of what you used to do in four weeks and do it in one,” he said. “We encourage experiments and we fail sometimes more than we succeed,  but we fail small and early.”

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He cited an example of a misstep with a micellar water which was remedied quickly, but also personally. When the item was getting negative reviews for its texture, E.l.f. promptly fixed the formula and sent a sample with a handwritten note from the head of research and development to those who had written reviews.

E.l.f. has an inclusive company culture spanning its products, its employees and even its compensation. Two times a week, E.l.f. executives in its three offices are linked in meetings where all are encouraged to be part of decisions. Upon a green light, prototypes are initiated within a week. There are no yearly reviews, rather constant feedback. All employees receive bonuses based solely on how well the company performs. Every employee has equity in E.l.f. “When people have a stake in the company their passion is different,” he said.

While growing bigger, E.l.f. is still relatively small as far as resources to tap major influencers. So, the company invited makeup enthusiasts to an event called Beautyscape (a concept brought to Amin by E.l.f. marketing vice president Mara McCune) where attendees got to network and experiment with products. Now in its second year, Beautyscape has played a major role in creating a buzz for E.l.f., Amin asserted.