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Drew Barrymore’s Flower Beauty Sprouts New Buds

The fledgling brand steps into e-commerce in Mexico.

Drew Barrymore’s Flower Beauty had a growth spurt this week when it launched an e-commerce operation on Valentine’s Day and rolled out distribution to Mexico, its first foreign expansion outside the U.S.

Founded by Barrymore and product developer Maesa Inc., the company has distributed solely through Wal-Mart Stores Inc., building up a door count of 2,000. The idea is to make the brand accessible to consumers living too distant from those stores which carry Flower merchandise. But also it is greatly extending its reach south of the border with the addition of 300 Wal-Mart doors in Mexico, according to David Hutchinson, senior vice president of Maesa.

“We’ve been eager to be in that country and in that marketplace,” said Barrymore, who is Flower’s creative director and founder. “We will be there sometime in March,” she noted, alluding to plans for a launch event in Mexico City. Barrymore added that she has had the multicultural customer in mind since launching the brand. “That is the woman that we’ve been conceiving shades and colors for and have had such inclusive love for since Day One at Flower Beauty. Now that we’ve gotten on our feet and we are in our fifth and most successful year [industry sources project retail sales of $30 million this year], we want to broaden out and really go after that woman, because she’s been there for us since the beginning. That is a customer and girl and woman we have really crafted and created our line toward,” she said, adding that this effort has manifested itself in skin tones of lips and cheeks and in the marketing. “Now we want to go out there and show it to her.”

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Barrymore describes her beauty brand as “affordable luxury at mass.” Price points range from $6.98 — for an eyeliner, mascara or concealer — to $17 for a travel brush set.

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Barrymore hinted there will be other market expansions. “We have a few actually that are possibly sooner than later,” she said, mentioning Australia as a possibility.

She also made an exploratory trip to South Korea and returned with some usable ideas. “I really loved the brightening aspect of their makeup. As a woman who gets a little sun damage throughout the year, I found that using their foundation actually evened out my skin without makeup, and that to me is something I would really love to bring over.” She also appeared to have become a believer in Korea’s three-step masks.

“For those of us who don’t have time to go to the facialist — ever — it’s something you can do at home for 30 minutes.” She acknowledged that Flower is “talking about masks for Flower.” The company also has been building its assortment.

“We have already had great success in palettes that we have launched in January this year,” said Hutchinson, referring to eye shadow, contouring and strobing palettes, as part of an addition of 13 items. Last fall, a Flower Sunshine eau de parfum was launched, with price points of $19.97 for one oz. and $8.98 for an 8-oz. mist.

The brand now consists of 180 stockkeeping units, Hutchinson said, and another 40 to 60 items will be added in the second half. The products will populate the main color cosmetics categories — lip, eye and face.

“It’s always my goal to explore skin care,” Barrymore said. “But we really wanted to get our color cosmetics game in the right place. Slow and steady wins the race.

“With skin care you really have to have a point of difference and a point of view,” she added.

The launch of the e-commerce platform was driven by a number of promotions, such as a free makeup clutch with orders of $40 or more and free shipping for those over $30. There will also be a special offer of a free lipstick for the first 100 orders on the web site, along with a targeted Facebook advertising campaign — not to mention the power of Barrymore’s Instagram account, with its six million followers. The company has created a Flower Pots Powder Brush in Deep Peony as an exclusive shade on the site.

Looking ahead, Barrymore will be doing text-based and video tutorials offering makeup tips. The company also will develop exclusive limited-edition color products to sell later this year.

Hutchinson said the overarching ambition for the e-commerce operation is to turn the web site into a destination and “to develop long-term relationships with fans of the brand.”

Barrymore observed, “this is the way people shop, whether to replenish or explore. We are taking power into our own hands,” she added, noting Flower will be able to merchandise a larger shade range than is permitted in-store.

One of the unusual aspects of the brand is that a celebrity targeted the Wal-Mart shopper, instead of the usual luxury or fashion customer. The point is especially poignant in such a highly charged political year, focusing on the needs of the middle class. Recalling the places she has lived and worked, Barrymore said, “I always had a sense of the collective vastness of our country. That’s as true to me now as it ever has been.”