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Lamel Beauty Brand Founder Eyes Global Growth

Natalia Iaromenko discusses the impetus of launching her brand, and the impact of the war in Ukraine.

Natalia Iaromenko, founder of the Ukrainian beauty brand Lamel, is fresh off of showcasing her products at Cosmoprof North America in Las Vegas last month. Despite the war with Russia in her native country and the destruction of the brand’s warehouse, Iaromenko is optimistic as she eyes continued expansion in the U.S. —and globally, too.

Here, Iaromenko discusses her brand, the impetus behind launching her company, and how she sees Lamel evolving.

WWD: What pushed you to launch your brand?

Natalia Iaromenko: I believe that all women have natural beauty. Makeup does not exist to make them better but to make them more confident and help them express themselves. When I talk to girls, I often hear that for them going out without makeup is like going out naked. When a girl does makeup with her favorite products that inspire her, she feels more confident and expects more from life. Actually, I experienced it myself. When I got my first job, I worked without a salary for the whole first year. I was very insecure and believed that I was not worth being hired at all. And it was makeup that helped me to overcome this self-doubt.

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A desire to help women around the world set bigger goals, demand more from life, and be more confident is why I devoted my life to beauty.

Lamel lip cream.

WWD: What is your distribution strategy? Retail and direct-to-consumer?

N.I.: Our distribution strategy is based on our mission — to give the opportunity to express themselves to as many people as possible. We try to work with the biggest retailers worldwide to be closer to our customers. We want to make our products available to girls and boys in every corner of the country, in every small town, so they can express themselves and boost their self-confidence. That’s why we build our sales with the help of our retail partners: you can buy our products directly online on Amazon and other online stores.

We communicate directly with our followers and beloved customers, and now we are launching Shopify, which will allow customers to buy our products straight from the site.

WWD: How would you describe your target customer? And what do they look for in a beauty product?

N.I.: Our target customers are girls or boys who want to express themselves through makeup, like non-standard bright products, and love to experiment. Makeup helps boost their self-confidence. Our target customer is a conscious person who understands that it is not worth spending all the money on makeup products. Our goal is to provide our customers with high-quality, modern, trendy products for as little money as possible so that people can spend the rest of their money on other essential things: travel, self-development, education or charity.

The first thing our customers expect from the products — is a caring attitude toward the environment. We do not test our products on animals; we are a cruelty-free PETA brand, most of our products are vegan, and many are multifunctional, which helps reduce the amount of consumption and make it more reasonable.

People who are searching for such values while choosing beauty products are our customers. They also expect from us a lot of novelties, non-standard, bright products, and unexpected solutions in both colors and textures. We love to surprise our customers. We need to hear “WOW” from them.

WWD: How has the war in Ukraine impacted your business?

N.I.: Lamel’s main warehouse was located in Ukraine, in a small town near Kyiv. After a Russian tank hit the warehouse, we completely lost our products, and the warehouse burned down. We lost the market in Ukraine. But our production was located in other countries (China, Italy and Poland). We have a great product, and, luckily, no problems with production now. And though there are some difficulties with the market, we’re resolving them quickly.

We are now transferring stocks to Europe and established a company in Poland. Just before the war, we started negotiations with a Polish distributor: this helped us start our partnership now. We’ve already made shipments to European distributors and will cooperate with Rossmann — one of Europe’s largest drugstore chains. We are also opening a company in the U.S. and looking for a warehouse to represent our products in the American market.

To continue to help our country, our army, and the charity fund we are establishing now, and to be as useful as possible, we are renewing our work aiming for an even broader representation worldwide. It has been said many times in Ukraine that those who can work and support the economy should do their best. And this is what we aim to do.

WWD: How would you describe your leadership style? And how would you describe Lamel’s corporate culture?

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N.I.: I would describe it as mentoring. I see self-development and the realization of big ambitious dreams as the primary goal of my business. I select a team of people with the same values for whom self-realization is crucial. I need to give them maximum freedom in their actions so that they reveal their talents. It leads to the company’s fast growth, and I’m thankful to all of my team.

The Lamel team is a team of ambitious dreamers who know how to work madly for results. The key competence is product development. Only talented, ambitious, independent individuals can create incredible, creative products. These people make up our team; we look for human treasures everywhere; résumés and working experience are not the main things we pay attention to when hiring a new person. The main thing is the level of ambitions, non-standard thinking, and the desire to change this world for the better.

The main task of our corporate culture is to reveal each team member’s potential and create the maximum conditions for this. Of course, the team has measurable goals, budgets, plans, etc., but more important is the vision of each team member for ambitious, non-standard challenges and the desire to achieve big dreams. These goals charge the team with emotions, and the team fills all our actions and steps with energy. Thanks to the mentoring culture of support and development, the Lamel brand is growing quickly.

WWD: What’s next for your brand and company?

N.I.: I believe in the great success of our company. My main goal is to make Lamel the number-one beauty brand in the world. I understand this will not happen in a year or two, but we dream of becoming the undisputed leader in the field of makeup in the world in 10 years.

The Lamel brand is already quite well-known in European countries. Everyone who has tried our products at least once becomes a Lamel ambassador. It does not depend on who it is: a makeup beginner, a professional makeup artist, or a beauty blogger. We appreciate this love very much and are sure that this story will repeat itself in a new but very prospective U.S. market. We are currently in contact with the largest retailers in the U.S., such as Ulta and Target, Walmart, Sephora, CVS and others. All of them are delighted with the quality of our products.

A month ago, we participated in the largest cosmetic trade show, Cosmoprof North America, held in Las Vegas, and we were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for our products there. We always heard “wow” reactions when visitors came to our stand and tested the products. Some products appeared to be unique to the U.S. market, filling us with hope for great results. There were the same reactions from large distributors who already knew about our cosmetic products and from ordinary visitors. All this allows us to set ambitious plans.

By the end of the year, the brand will be well-represented in online retailers. Starting in 2023, the Lamel brand will already be represented in all major retail chains. Our next task is to become the favorite brand of all dreamers and makeup fans in the U.S.