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Marianna Hewitt and Lauren Gores Ireland Talk Four Years of Summer Fridays

The brand founders and influencers talk the challenges of the pandemic, hitting a sales milestone and celebrating their recent anniversary.

In just four years, Summer Fridays has become one of the most sought-after skin care brands on the market.

Created by influencers Marianna Hewitt and Lauren Gores Ireland, Summer Fridays first launched in 2018 with one product, its Jet Lag Mask, and has grown to now include 14 products — including its newly launched Dream Oasis Deep Hydration serum — as it marked its four-year anniversary this weekend.

“We initially started with the Jet Lag Mask as our first product and with one stock keeping unit and that was really intentional,” Hewitt explained. “Our product assortment is really guided by our community and what they’re asking for. We’ve always been a social-first, digital-first brand that really listens to our customers, and Lauren and I saw all the time that we are our target consumers, so we’re really creating products that they want.”

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As they hit their four-year anniversary — which they celebrated with a collaboration with cookie dough brand Deux and with a Café Summer Fridays pop-up in Los Angeles that drew in a crowd of roughly 7,400 visitors — the brand founders are also celebrating another milestone: hitting 2 million products sold.

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“It’s a number we could never have wrapped our minds around when we started the brand,” Hewitt continued. “Our initial purchase orders, what we were thinking was a few thousand units and we were so nervous about how we will sell this many [products], so to think 2 million later is just incredible.”

Like virtually all other brands, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a challenge to Hewitt and Gores Ireland as they had to pivot their messaging and strategies. One ongoing challenge they’ve faced is supply chain issues, particularly with a glass shortage as most of their products are housed in glass bottles.

“[The pandemic] has really challenged us to constantly get creative,” Gores Ireland said. “We’ve had to challenge ourselves to get really creative with how we tell stories, how we share our campaigns and the images and videos we take. Even social has grown tremendously. When we launched the brand, Instagram was obviously the biggest platform and even that platform alone has changed drastically. Of course, now there’s TikTok, so I think that’s been one of the biggest challenges but also one of the high points has been this ability to pivot.”

Marianna Hewitt and Lauren Gores Ireland Talk Four Years of Summer Fridays
Summer Fridays Dream Oasis Deep Hydration Serum Courtesy

Although the pandemic has presented challenges, the consistent growth in interest in skin care among customers has made Summer Fridays’ products resonate even more with customers.

The founders didn’t see a need to change their product lineup once the pandemic hit because of the interest in the category. Instead, they changed their marketing and messaging to address the pandemic. For instance, when Summer Fridays launched its Lip Butter Balm in April 2020, the brand changed its messaging to explain the product should be applied directly from the applicator instead of by hand.

“We’ve always thought about the longevity of our brand and our products, so we’ve never been trend-focused and we always want to think about what products do you want to have in your routine for the next 10, 20 or 30 years to come,” Hewitt said. “We haven’t changed our strategy as far as what products we wanted to come out with because I think, even in the last few years, specifically skin care has been so incredible because so many people were taking care of their skin while they were at home and maybe not wearing as much makeup.”

Hewitt and Gores Ireland have also consistently leveraged their platforms and experiences as influencers for Summer Friday, leaning on their knowledge of how to market a product and what their communities are asking for to continue to grow the brand.

“Influencers, we believe, really were the next wave of brand founders,” Hewitt said. “We believed that for so many years. I think that’s because we wear so many hats. We know how to photograph, how to market a product, how to speak to customers like a person instead of like a brand. I don’t think the wave of influencers as brand founders is going anywhere. I think they’ll continue to evolve.”

Summer Fridays was one of the first influencer-founded brands to enter the beauty space, especially within skin care. While the category has grown tremendously in the last four years, the founders think that there’s still room for more brands and influencers to enter if they have a clear point of differentiation.

“We’ve seen so much growth in skin care specifically and so many new phenomenal brands that are now in skin care,” Gores Ireland said. “We always say that when skin care is growing, every skin care brand is winning. That’s something we really believe in. When a category is on fire, it’s good for all of us.”

While the brand founders stayed mum on growth plans for this year, they stated they are expecting double-digit growth as they continue to roll out new products throughout the year.

“We have a lot of really strong product launches that are coming up this year,” Gores Ireland concluded. “Products that we’ve worked on for a really long time that our community has been asking for that we spent quite a bit of time on perfection and really making what we believe is really special to our brand.”

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