U Beauty wasn’t created solely as a sustainable brand — but it has proven that sustainable sells.
The company, cofounded by @bagsnob influencer Tina Craig and beauty industry vet Katie Borghese, began in the fall with a single stockkeeping unit. The Resurfacing Compound, priced at $228 for 50-ml., is a multitasking product meant to do the work of a toner, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid and vitamins A, C and E.
Industry sources estimate that U Beauty sold through $1 million worth of the item in its first month. The company saw its second-biggest month of sales in March, as many purchases came from repeat customers, said the cofounders.
U Beauty, whose name is meant to signify universality, was founded on the notion of simplifying one’s skin-care regimen. The idea is to generate less waste by using fewer products — and only ones formulated with clean, vegan, nontoxic ingredients compliant with the European Union’s standard. But in the vein of redefining luxury as sustainable, U Beauty took it one step further.
“Sustainability needs to start at the beginning of the supply chain all the way through,” said Borghese. “Luxury today is knowing that you can work with a company that has thought of all that for you.”
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U Beauty’s manufacturing facilities in Italy are 100 percent CO2-free, run solely by green energy. As the coronavirus evolved in the country, the facilities temporarily switched to making hand sanitizer.
Each U Beauty bottle is recyclable and made of recycled plastic. For every order on its web site, the company plants one tree through its partnership with One Tree Planted. In honor of Earth Day, U Beauty will increase the number of trees planted to five April 19 through 22.
Rather than investing in a buzzy ad campaign, one which easily could have featured Craig’s influencer friends, U Beauty spent its money on product development, clinical research and trial kits. Apparently, some retail buyers signed up for the trial kits, sparking interest in signing on the brand.
U Beauty launched exclusively worldwide with Net-a-porter. On April 19, the brand enters Violet Grey, following by Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Revolve, Niche Beauty, Cult Beauty, Melanie Grant and Beautylish on May 1.
Craig launched her blog, Bag Snob, in 2005. She and her editorial team have since published 11,000 articles on the blog and are in the process of turning the content into an encyclopedia called Bag-tionary. “It will be a bag Wikipedia in a sense,” Craig said.
She later launched Beauty Snob, though her Taiwanese upbringing placed her ahead of the curve when it came to skin care. She even taught Nicky Hilton Rothschild what beauty rolling was before it became a Millennial trend.
U Beauty is in the testing phase for its second product, though Craig is in no rush to launch.
“We don’t want to come out with anything unless it is the best thing we’ve ever tried,” Craig said. “The reason I’ve lasted 15 years in a business that is so fickle is because I’ve always been led by my passion. If I don’t love something — like a teenager in love — I’m not gonna do it.”
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