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Smith & Cult Moves From Hand to Mouth

Smith & Cult is expanding beyond nail polish to a variety of color cosmetics products.

Smith & Cult is growing its range beyond nail.

Building on the launch of lip lacquers last year, the Luxury Brand Partners-owned brand has introduced a lip stain collection called The Tainted Lip Stain beginning with two shades. The latest product extensions are part of a plan by creative director Dineh Mohajer and president Jeanne Chavez to steer Smith & Cult down the same path they previously took Hard Candy,  stretching from nail across various beauty categories.

“With Hard Candy, we started with nail and quickly went into color cosmetics to establish ourselves as a color-trend brand,” said Chavez, adding that Smith & Cult has “evolved into a color brand.” It’s a strategy a slew of nail brands, including Butter London and Julep, have pursued as well, and Mohajer understands why. She said, “In order to remain a thriving brand, you have to expand. It makes sense to go from nails to lips for us because of the real estate lips have on your face, and the impact they make. It’s an easy thing to change for a lot of payoff.”

A diehard beauty junkie, Mohajer revealed she sticks to her gut instincts when deciding what products to develop. Branching Smith & Cult into lip stains appealed to her personal beauty preferences — she tends not to wear heavy pucker colors and favors products that enhance natural lip shades — and to her desire to remedy the complaint often lobbed at lip stains that they are drying.

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“I love to put a sheer gloss over the lip stains. It almost looks like the color is coming from within, and the finish of the gloss creates reflection and dimension,” said Mohajer, who also commented that she layers Smith & Cult’s lip lacquers (her favorite is the pale pink shade Life in Photographs) over the stains. The stains are $24 each, $2 more than the lacquers.

Landing on a lip stain formula suitable to Mohajer wasn’t easy. “The way we formulated is really different from other stains,” she said. “Based on how the pigment usually needs to be suspended, the formula ends up being drying, but we figured out how to suspend it in [a substance] that is moisturizing. Getting that to not separate was challenging, but we were able to do it so it’s not a drying experience and still delivers the stain we wanted.”

The lip stains are packaged in solid gold, a modest departure from the gold and clear packaging of the rest of Smith & Cult’s products. “I wanted there to be diversity [of packaging] within the category with the lip lacquer different from the stain, but there needed to be a connection. I didn’t want there to be confusion,” said Mohajer. She scoured possible applicators and picked a doe-foot option she felt absorbed and deposited just the right amount of the product. “It is the most evenly distributing doe-foot,” she said.

Smith & Cult’s distribution network spans 583 salons, 126 apothecaries and 53 department stores and specialty retailers. Among the brand’s key retailers are Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Net-a-porter, C.O. Bigelow and Space NK. In the fall, Smith & Cult will further enlarge its color cosmetics repertoire. “As long as the growth is true to and consistent with the identity of the brand, the sky is really the limit,” said Mohajer.