In five years, Makeup Geek went from doing under $500,000 in revenue to $22 million — largely due to social media.
“That’s mainly eye shadow sales — that were $6 each. If you do the math that’s a lot of eye shadows we sell,” said Marlena Stell, chief executive officer of Makeup Geek, noting that revenue has more than doubled every year since she began the line in 2011.
Today, Makeup Geek works out of a 50,000-square-foot headquarters in Michigan, with a customer service team, an assembly line, warehouse space and shipping capabilities. Stell said she tries to keep as much possible in-house so she can have control over “personal touches” such as including handwritten notes in every order (this is no small feat for a company that ships, on average, 2,000 orders per day).
“Customer service is huge; our customer service tries to have that personal touch as well [through] personal responses — a response from a real human being. I want them to have pictures of themselves so when people are complaining, when they see pictures of a customer service person they are a little bit nicer…[I’m] very big on personal connection with me, staff and across the board,” Stell said.
The fan base from the YouTube channel Stell started in 2008 definitely helped propel her business early on, but social media was able to take it to the next level. The personal connection she was able to forge with fans and customers through the various platforms would never have been possible without the advent of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
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She called learning how to use each platform “tricky,” detailing that there are different use cases for each one. Stell said Facebook is “peaking” because of Facebook Live, which is the first time brands were able to do live video at scale for customers. Twitter is good for giving updates on product launches, but she warned against being “too sales pitchy.”
“Instagram is the big boy…[the] one we try to post most frequently on,” Stell said, recommending that brands post two to three times a day. “[It’s] a lot of sneak peaks…just mix it up…have a brand personality…it’s easy.”