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Inglot’s Success Story

Cutting-edge products and a vertically integrated operation have both helped to fuel Inglot's impressive expansion.

Inglot’s story is the stuff of dreams.

Four years ago, the makeup producer and retailer had just one store outside of Poland. Now the family-owned company boasts 70 international locations in addition to 180 domestic doors selling its line of 1,400 stockkeeping units. And Inglot is debt-free.

“[It] is supposed to be a heaven or a candy store for makeup customers,” said Wojciech Inglot, company founder and president. “Wherever possible, especially with eye shadow, lip products or nail products, we try to arrange [items] in color groups to make the navigation through testers very easy and quick.”

The company, whose stores measure 450 to 1,100 square feet each, aims to produce cutting-edge products. Take its O2M “breathable” nail polish made with a polymer also used in contact-lens manufacturing. In packaging, there is the Freedom System allowing consumers to compose palettes of various product types and shades. Such magnetic containers — a hit among makeup artists, said Inglot — are easily stackable.

“This packaging is done in-house,” he said. So, too, are Inglot’s in-store fixtures.

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“Producing this in-house gives us the chance to reuse or recycle a significant portion of the products,” explained Inglot.

Inglot also makes some 95 percent of its products — all except wooden pencils and accessories.

“When everything is manufactured in-house, it gives us greater flexibility,” said Inglot. “We’ve created a quite vertical, integrated operation doing everything from product development, product testing, manufacturing, fixture manufacturing, tester manufacturing and printing.

“These days, when outsourcing is so common, this model might look a bit old-fashioned, but if properly and tightly run and well-organized, it can be extremely efficient,” he added.

Inglot’s expansion came naturally.

“I have always believed that once you have a good concept, good products and the right pricing, sooner or later somebody will notice and say, ‘I like it, I want it.’ And this is exactly what happened,” he said.

The first Inglot door abroad debuted in Montreal a few months after someone contacted him in Warsaw from Canada. Then, weeks later, a person from Australia reached out to Inglot after seeing the Montreal store, and a contract was quickly signed for that country.

“That turned out to be a typical mechanism for our international expansion,” said Inglot.

Expansion has, of course, come with challenges. In India and Saudi Arabia, for instance, Inglot had to adjust its product packaging. For Australia, the company reformulated about 200 products, while a number of darker shades were introduced for certain markets.

But much of this work has paid off, said Inglot. “Our ethnic colors or shades have become our strong seller abroad,” he explained, citing an example.

Inglot is weighing numerous options. There’s a toss-up between being on high streets or in malls. Meanwhile, the company has opted to continue both franchising and running its own operations.

“We realized that some countries where we do not necessarily understand the local culture and the customs too well, a local franchise would be better prepared to run the business,” said Inglot.

Plans comprise some 30 new locations, including 10 in the U.S., by yearend. The next, a studio in New York’s Chelsea Market, should open within the next few weeks.