Milk Makeup has hired Nicole Frusci from Benefit Cosmetics as chief marketing officer.
In her new role, Frusci will focus “on what is going to drive the product to commercial success — the business at Sephora, social community, digital,” she said. She will work closely with product developer and chief operating officer Dianna Ruth on how product will be positioned from a marketing perspective.
“What really attracted me to Milk is the opportunity…it’s only a year -and-a-half old…[I’m] really getting in on the ground floor and being able to build from the ground up,” Frusci, who starts today, said. At Benefit, she was vice president of U.S. brand and digital marketing.
Milk Makeup makes products for women and men that are aimed at ease of application — the idea is that users should be able to go from day to night in the back of a taxi in five minutes. The brand also focuses its marketing more on makeup for people to wear while they are doing interesting things rather than makeup for perfect selfies. The business received an investment from private equity firm Main Post Partners in January.
That capital has helped Milk Makeup to gain scale — the brand is in about 200 Sephora doors, and is opening stores at a rate of about 50 doors every six months, according to chief executive officer Mazdack Rassi. Hiring a CMO was something the brand knew it needed to do, he said.
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“Once we were out of the gate and had broken through, especially through Sephora, and started to have our own platform within the beauty world…we knew we had to learn how to market, learn how to merchandise, learn how to sell better, learn how to communicate better,” Rassi said. “Sometimes, after you do the work and come out of the launch, you sort of have to go back and build the company and get ready to scale.”
Frusci was the right fit for Milk for a handful of reasons, he noted, highlighting her longstanding relationship with Sephora. “We need to learn how to speak with the Sephora guy and girl better, and we knew she understood that client,” Rassi said.
Part of the focus going forward will be on telling the Milk story in a more thorough way — something that may resonate with a broader group than just downtown-cool kids.
“We know who we are — we are a downtown, New York City culture hub, and Milk has had the same voice and same vision of creativity since its inception 20 years ago,” Rassi said. “How we speak with people outside of our industry and outside of the creative world, especially through beauty, is going to have to evolve.”
Going forward, there are plans to better highlight the ingredient story and be “better merchants,” Rassi said.
Milk Makeup is on track to double for 2017, according to industry sources, and is plotting a further retail rollout with Sephora and expansion of its product line for 2018. While it does that though, Rassi noted the company will remain introspective.
“We still have our foot on the gas and we are aggressive with growth, however we are also constantly looking inwards to get our messaging and getting everything back to a core idea,” Rassi said. “Sometimes with so much growth and running so fast, you don’t look inward, and we have to do both of those things. That’s where we are today.”