Are influencers the next wave of brand founders?
Beauty superinfluencer Marianna Hewitt thinks so. Hewitt and her business partner Lauren Gores Ireland launched skin-care brand Summer Fridays in January with one hero stockkeeping unit, The Jet Lag Mask. Sephora snapped up the $48 product almost instantly, and the brand will roll out to all Sephora doors later this year.
In the near future, “You’ll see a lot of influencers evolving into brand founders, consulting for brands maybe acting as creative directors,” predicted Hewitt. “A lot of us are realizing that we know how to market a product, we’ve tested and tried everything out there, we get sent so many things, we know what we like and don’t like from brands.”
Hewitt said the secret to Summer Fridays’ success is that she and Ireland are their “own target consumer.”
“If Lauren and I think something is cool, we know our consumers will,” said Hewitt. “We never had to spend money on focus groups because our Instagram following of one million was our focus group, and we just made what they asked.”
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Hewitt said she and Ireland have not had to pay for promotion of Summer Fridays. At launch, the pair gifted Jet Lag masks to influencers, and social media sharing happened organically. “People sharing because they actually liked [the product] really helped push the brand’s sales,” said Hewitt.
Seeding product to influencers was a no-brainer for Hewitt and Ireland.
“Everyone I know purchases from influencers,” said Hewitt. “It really is how to market new product and convey messaging and how to use it, but with real girls.”
Thinking social-first was top of mind in developing Summer Fridays. “We think about, ‘How will this photograph and share on social?’,” Hewitt said. “I’m sure if you guys have tried to photograph a jar before, it’s rolling all over the place. The tube is better for flat-lays.”
She encouraged brands to use Instagram stories to market launches, which allow for more detail about how the product smells and feels than just a static feed post.
“For me, when I see a friend post a product, I’m more likely to purchase it than when I see an ad,” said Hewitt. “Seeing a girl who looks like me, sounds like me, lives where I live and lives a life similar to mine, it’s more engaging.”