LONDON — The digital peer-to-peer platform MyBeautyBrand is taking a strong stand against the traditional influencer, and trying to give power to the people — whether or not they have an online following. Founded by Robin Derrick and Max Leykind, the platform allows any individual to set up an e-store to share looks using My Beauty Brand’s own color cosmetics products, ByMe, and earn a commission.
Similar to Avon, but entirely digital, the site targets Gen Z consumers and focuses on Depop-style, commission-based, social selling.
“The platform is very straightforward: You go in and create a store, and attach pictures and products you’ve used. It’s as simple as that,” said Derrick, former global executive director at Spring Studios and creative director of British Vogue. “There are no fees, you don’t need to recruit other people. There is no contract and you can close it whenever you want. You get to decide.”
Derrick and Leykind, who founded Eyeko, both stressed during an interview that the point of MyBeautyBrand isn’t to offer another social media platform. While images and videos from Instagram or YouTube can be posted on MyBeautyBrand, and vice versa, there is no room for likes, comments or direct messaging.
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“I’ve done a lot of influencer campaigns and they don’t work. They’re tired. What was new and innovative media is just media. We’re a post-influencer brand,” Derrick said.
He pointed to the label’s zealous manifesto, which reads: “Sick of the G’s [original bloggers] and the look at me’s and the check how sexy I can be’s. Sick of the scammers and the fake tanners and the ‘No makeup, makeup’ Instagrammers.”
The proposition has already captured the attention of some big players: Investors in the platform include The Neves family office (backed by José Neves, founder of Farfetch); L Catterton; Manzanita Capital Ltd.; Floriane de Saint Pierre and Mubic Ltd.
Derrick and Leykind said they are expecting 3 million to 5 million pounds in turnover in year one. The brand will officially launch on Dec. 5.
It’s an ambitious project, but the cofounders are confident about their strategy of relying on peer-to-peer recommendation and offering individuals the opportunity of a side-hustle, additional income, or potentially a main source of income.
Derrick and Leykind say that the business model is flat and transparent. Store operators receive 10 percent commission for sales of up to 1,000 pounds of ByMe products. Over 1,000 pounds, they receive 15 percent commission and over 2,000 pounds, it’s 20 percent.
Commission is calculated each month, and resets for the following month. Avid sellers, those who shift more than 3,000 pounds of ByMe products, are eligible to receive shares in the company.
“What we’re doing is putting the company in the hands of the store owners, so you don’t just own the look, but the company, too. The reason why it will work is that an average affiliate deal is around 6 to 8 percent, and we’re at minimum 10 percent. You could just sell one 10-pound product and still get one pound back,” said Derrick, adding that the platform does all the work and store operators don’t need to add any affiliate links.
The appeal, Leykind argued, doesn’t end there. Because the ByMe products are what’s going to drive the success of the platform, he said they needed to be top quality.
“They are high-quality color cosmetics with a high color payoff and fantastic quality. The formulations are made in Italy by the best manufacturers. We’re spending a lot on product because that is the thing you’re buying from your friend. I don’t think there’s any point in me selling you cheap (stuff),” he said.
The brand will launch with 60 sku’s, including metallic and matte eye shadows, blushes, highlighters and cream and liquid lipstick. Retail prices start at 15 pounds. The products have been created with input from Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion students.
Derrick, who teaches fashion journalism at CSM, said he put up a noticeboard initially to get students’ opinions, and they eventually started working with him on product development. The students came from all different pathways with some being fashion students to general makeup fans.
“They’re the right people interested in makeup, and also our first shareholders and store owners and they all have shades named after them,” added Derrick.
The products come in a white plastic packaging that contains a percentage of recyclable plastic, while all of the secondary packaging is made with recyclable materials. MyBeautyBrand has also partnered with TerraCycle to create a take-back scheme and offers free shipping to its customers who want to send back empty products for recycling.
The two business partners also plan to continue working with their on- and off-line community. They are looking to drop products every two weeks, either iterations of current products and/or new products that have been asked for, or suggested by, MyBeautyBrand’s users.
“Why wouldn’t we get our top store owners in a room and ask them what they want? It’s MyBeautyBrand, right?” Leykind said.
Future considerations include stocking third-party products on the site. While the cofounders said they encourage their store owners to list other brands they use, they don’t get commission on those sales.
“We’re not here to sell a look, which is why we’re never going to sell a ‘glam night out’ palette or a ‘sexy’ palette. We want our products to be used as tools for self-expression,” said Derrick.
On the platform, users can find store owners and inspiration by searching looks or other relevant tags, such as Instagram.
MyBeautyBrand is launching with Dazed Beauty and creating a Dazed Beauty store on their site where people can shop from their community members. They are also launching with a product collaboration with nail artist Marian Newman and debuting five limited-edition nail polish colors.