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ModelCo Aims for Quick Fixes

NEW YORK — Working in the time-pressed, perfectionist world of fashion, former model agent Shelley Barrett believed there was a dearth of quick-fix beauty products on the market — so she created her own.

ModelCo, Barrett’s...

NEW YORK — Working in the time-pressed, perfectionist world of fashion, former model agent Shelley Barrett believed there was a dearth of quick-fix beauty products on the market — so she created her own.

ModelCo, Barrett’s line of self-tanners, tools and color cosmetics, was launched in the U.S. at Sephora.com last month. It will subsequently roll out to Sephora stores in June.

“I spent a lot of time listening to what women wanted in their beauty regime and what the luxury brands didn’t have,” said the native Aussie, who founded Sydney-based ModelCo in 2002. The brand is currently sold in 500 doors worldwide, including London’s Space NK, Colette and Le Printemps in Paris and Japan’s Sony Plaza. The brand will be launched in the Scandinavian market later this year.

ModelCo did more than $8 million in retail sales worldwide last year. Barrett said that she expects first-year retail sales in the U.S. to equal that figure.

ModelCo’s first product, the $25 Lash Wand Heated Eyelash Curler, was designed to use heat to work lashes into a lifted, curled state after they are coated with mascara. Barrett said she came up with the idea after hearing various models complain about traditional eyelash curlers, which clamp the lashes between two cushions and can cause breakage. “They were getting their lashes ripped out [with traditional curlers],” she said.

The success of the Lash Wand, which sold out in Australia, Japan and the U.K., according to Barrett, spawned the launch of a second product, Tan Airbrush in a Can, a do-it-yourself airbrush self-tanner. Featuring a 360-degree nozzle and a quick-dry formula, Tan Airbrush in a Can is designed to mimic the streak-free effect  achieved by costly salon treatments.

The ModelCo assortment features more than 70 products, ranging in price from $12 for a Liquid Buds Eye Makeup Remover, which disperses product through a cotton swab when the tip is snapped, to $36 for the Tan Airbrush in a Can. Other products in the line include Skin Drink, a $30 moisturizing spray featuring ginkgo, papaya, green tea and bamboo, and Designer Lips, a $16 combination lipliner/lipstick.

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While Barrett said there are no plans for advertising, in the past the brand has participated in guerrilla marketing initiatives, including a campaign called “Painting Paris Pink,” in which hot pink posters — ModelCo’s signature color — were put up around high-end fashion retail areas of Paris, including Rue Royale, Le Marais and Rue de Rivoli.

Barrett said that there are no plans at the moment for a similar initiative in the U.S., but she would not rule out the possibility. “We’re always looking to speak to our customers in a unique way,” said Barrett. “That campaign was culturally appropriate and delivered high impact — we would love do something of similar impact in the U.S. market.”