Ulta Beauty stocks an enviable assortment of 500 mass, prestige and salon brands. But when customers told the retailer it was lacking an exclusive line created by an accomplished makeup artist, Ulta Beauty began the hunt for one.
The result is Fiona Stiles Beauty, the creation of an Emmy-nominated, globetrotting makeup artist with more than 20 years of experience ranging from the red carpet to print. The line, being produced by the Maesa Group, offers 120 custom formulations in the eye, lip and face categories slated for debut in 500 Ulta stores on Feb. 18. Retailing between $12 to $30, the collection will be housed amid the other prestige lines carried by the retailer.
“Our guests clearly state they love exclusivity — they are keen on ‘only at Ulta,’” said Tara Simon, Ulta’s senior vice president of merchandising. The retailer’s loyal base also craves education and makeup application tips. “Fiona fits the bill. She’s a working makeup artist, she’s passionate about makeup and this gives her a platform to add excitement and education.”
According to Simon, the price points invites mass shoppers “who may not have stepped across the aisle,” to trade up while also offering prestige consumers an entry priced line with “gorgeous colors” and high performance. “It’s magical and fits a very unique spot in the box,” said Simon.
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While Maesa and Ulta would not comment, industry sources estimate Fiona Stiles Beauty will ring up sales approaching $10 million in its first year.
There are myriad lines created by makeup artists, noted Scott Jared Oshry, chief marketing officer at Maesa. However, he says, many of the experts are no longer actively involved in day-to-day operations. “Fiona is at the pinnacle. She travels the world just to find new colors and products. This line is her brainchild,” Oshry said. Simon agreed, “It has more than just her thumbprint.”
Although the line competes against behemoth brands with big advertising, Oshry said consumers are looking for innovation, which is fueling independent brand growth. “Fiona Stiles Beauty offers this newness right by walking into Ulta Beauty,” he said.
Maesa, a creator and manufacturer of exclusive beauty products has identified opportunities with chains such as Wal-Mart with Flower by Drew Barrymore and Circa for Walgreens. “We saw an interesting positioning with Ulta at the same time they were looking and working together, a hole [in the mix] was solved,” Oshry said.
For Stiles, a self-proclaimed Ulta shopper, the opportunity offered the chance to use her experience to educate consumers. “Having your own products is something as a makeup artist I’ve dreamed of and I can’t believe I get to have the support of a company like Ulta and can create all the product. So many women, despite Instagram and tutorials, are afraid of makeup. I want to make products for real women that are not intimidating.”
Using technologies from around the world and colors painstakingly selected to complement all complexions, Stiles — who has worked with stars with a wide range of skin tones, from Elizabeth Banks to Gabrielle Union — believes the line is suited to all women. “We hired models [and even pulled in women working in labs or on the street with various skin tones] so that I could color match on real skin — you can’t just swatch it on your arm and get the subtle undertones. It was super important to me,” said Stiles. She also vowed to make it easy and “mistake proof” thanks to buildable formulas that can go from minimal to dramatic looks. The foundations and concealers are teed up by number to assist in selecting the right shades. A Sheer Sculpting Palette, said Stiles, helps people learn how to accomplish the sometimes-tricky makeup trick. A few products she expects will especially resonate with consumers are Radiant Aqua Eye Veil, a pudding-like eye shadow that doesn’t crease; two mascaras including a black and burgundy color (called Worth), which Stiles said is a perfect enhancer to any eye color; and lip colors available in both satin and matte formulas.
Stiles will share her passion for makeup on tutorials posted on ulta.com as well as her own site, FionaStilesBeauty.com. The sleek in-store fixture features her image and tips. Noting that makeup tutorials are among the most popular on YouTube, Oshry said Stiles will deliver valuable information instead of “tips from self-proclaimed makeup artists.”
Ulta will put of all of its muscle behind the line including in-store appearances, prominence in print and online as well as opportunities for live online chats with Stiles. “We will pull every lever that we have,” said Simon. The success of lines such as It Cosmetics and NYX shows what Ulta can achieve when it gets behind a brand.
“Fiona’s about to be our not-so-secret weapon,” said Simon.