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The Superpowered Turnaround of E.l.f. Beauty

“It really required some personal reflection to really figure out, ‘Where did I go wrong?,’ ‘What do we have to do different?’”

After E.l.f. Beauty CEO Tarang Amin presented at a WWD Beauty CEO summit four years ago, his stock price tanked. 

Shortly after the event, E.l.f. had gone from more than 20 percent growth to a 3 percent dip, and the markets reacted in a big way.

“It really required some personal reflection to figure out, ‘Where did I go wrong?,’ ‘What do we have to do different?’” Amin said. “My specialty is taking these great businesses, running into the wall, jumping over and claiming success,” Amin said.

Indeed, Amin has found great success because of the stumbles — rather than in spite of them. “The theme this year that I want to impart with you is finding your superpowers,” he said. 

Amin referenced prior roles, including with Pantene, where he said he hit three different walls over the course of several years. “I’ve been in the consumer space for 30 years, and every success I’ve ever had stems from an initial insatiable curiosity for the consumer,” Amin said. “I started my career in beauty as part of the team in the early ’90s that took Pantene from $50 million to $2 billion, and we had three different periods where we hit a wall.” 

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He hit walls too at Schiff Nutrition, over the course of building it from a $180 million company to a $1.5 billion company, he said.

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“When we hit the wall, we needed to unleash our own curiosity,” he said. 

That’s what he did with E.l.f. 

He found out that the brand had seen a decline in organic search for the first time. “I had missed the impact of the mega influencer wave,” Amin said. “I assumed our tremendous value equation would have insulated us from these higher priced brands. I was wrong.” 

That discovery led to bringing in new members of the E.l.f team, including chief marketing officer Kory Marchisotto who has spearheaded E.l.f. marketing initiatives, including with new platforms like TikTok and Twitch. It also led to expanding roles for existing members of the team, Amin noted. “We’ve either hired or expanded roles for about 70 percent of our team,” he said. 

E.l.f. also unveiled “project unicorn,” and redesigned products and packaging for clarity on the shelf. “We redesigned 500 [stock keeping units] and had them shipping in less than six months,” Amin said. The move also allowed the brand to eliminate excess packaging.

Then, E.l.f. closed its retail locations, and funneled energy toward its retailer partnerships instead. The brand also leaned into its vegan and cruelty-free products, with a focus on what the brand calls “holy grails,” Amin said. 

Those products are the best sellers, and include $9 Poreless Putty Primer and $6 Camo Concealer. “Shining a light on these unique products really helped further accelerate our growth,” Amin said. 

The brand’s third “superpower,” Amin said, was that it was rooted in disruption from the start. Original founders Alan and Joey Shamah started the business nearly 20 years ago selling each cosmetics product for $1 online. “People thought they were crazy for it and certainly couldn’t make money on it. But it did infuse us with this core culture with a renegade spirit,” Amin said. 

That digital disruptive nature, combined with Marchisotto, led the brand toward new marketing channels, Amin said.

Now, E.l.f. has reported its 11th consecutive quarter of net sales growth, and is continuing to grow market share, Amin said. The stock price is back up, and the business is diversified with the incubation of Alicia Keys’ Keys Soulcare and acquisition of W3ll People

Next up, E.l.f. Is focused on building its mission. 

“Our purpose is E.l.f. Beauty stands with every eye, lip, face and paw, and they’re not just words, we bring them to life to three core platforms: encouraging self expression, empowering others and embodying our ethics.” 


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