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Michelle Phan’s Ipsy: Breeding Content Creators With Creator Day

Ipsy hosted its first Creator Day last week to foster the growth of influencers and build its community of beauty content creators.

NEW YORK — Ipsy is focused on content creation and the individuals who create it — even if that content doesn’t directly generate revenue.

Almost all of the company’s $150 million in revenue last year came from the $10 monthly fee from its 1.5 million members, said Jennifer Goldfarb, Ipsy’s president and cofounder along with Michelle Phan, the pioneer of the beauty influencer movement online, and Marcelo Camberos.

“It’s important,” Goldfarb said of the company’s personalized subscription service. “But more powerful is the creators and working with the community of creators we work with. She [Phan] inspired a generation. It’s amazing the world she’s opened up. Today you can tell your parents I want to be a beauty content creator.”

On Friday, the company hosted its first Creator Day in New York at the Dream Hotel to foster the growth of aspiring influencers and build its community of engaged, beauty content creators. The event was part of Generation Beauty, a two-day beauty event sponsored by Ipsy that took place Saturday and Sunday at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Brooklyn had representation from 34 beauty brands and 4,000 attendees.

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For Creator Day specifically, Goldfarb said 300 individuals with varying sized followings were invited to partake based on how “high quality their work is.” For her, since so much of this activity takes place online, having an in-person networking and educational opportunity is important. Phan keynoted the event, which had three panels that addressed how to work with brands as well as building one’s personal brand.

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While other subscription services might be cutting staff, restructuring their businesses and rushing to find more venture capitalists to fund them, Ipsy continues to expand.

Each month Ipsy sends a Glam Bag of five deluxe-sized samples or full-sized products to members using a personalization algorithm built by engineers and data scientists at the company’s San Francisco headquarters.

She acknowledged that while sampling gives Ipsy 12 opportunities a year to talk to its customers “in their hands, in their bathrooms,” it makes money for the business that’s then taken and invested in the creator universe. The company’s 10 in-house content creators work to produce content monthly to support the samples that appear in members’ Glam Bags (and since selections are personalized, there are up to 300 variations of Glam Bags a month) and show members how to wear, use and incorporate these items into their beauty routines. Goldfarb said that Ipsy-owned content that lives on both the in-house stylists’ and Ipsy social channels gets a combined 500 million views per month.
“We have been profitable since the beginning so there is clearly someone about the way we’re running the business that’s working,” Goldfarb said, calling content and the in-house content creators a point of differentiation.

This fosters a high rate of engagement from members who, according to Goldfarb, submit over one million product reviews to Ipsy every single month. Also, Ipsy doesn’t do any retail beyond the subscription service, which she explained makes the company different from Birch Box.

“[With] many businesses, the goal is to come back and buy full-size [product]. Ours is to get you to create content,” she said.

It helps that rather than paying for the millions of samples it sends out each month, Ipsy works with brands to develop “media packages” that entail e-mail promotion, social media posts and video. Brands “pay” Ipsy in product in order to “reach a targeted community.”