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Hourglass’ Carisa Janes on Maintaining Innovation

Although it has a tight distribution, the beauty brand is taking market share from bigger brands.

Talk about breaking news.

During a lively conversation with WWD Beauty Inc editor Jenny B. Fine, Carisa Janes, founder and chief executive officer of Hourglass Cosmetics, revealed her company will open its first flagship in the near future in Venice, Calif. The brand will also launch a line of skin care this year. Even fragrance could one day be a possibility.

“Ah, that’s my dream,” said Janes, referring to launching a scent. “Someday, definitely.”

Hourglass launched in 2004 exclusively at Barney’s and, since 2007, has been available at Sephora, which Janes claimed changed her and the brand’s lives. The West Coast-based brand is now in 400 stores including Mecca in Australia plus stores in Brazil, Mexico, the U.K., Italy, and it will soon be in Hong Kong. Although it has a tight distribution, Hourglass is taking market share from bigger brands.

“I’m very focused on continuing to build our core categories,” said Janes. “Our primer, our foundations, that’s where we have such a loyal following and we feel that we’ve really done something very special.”

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To that end, Janes gave an example of a recent innovative launch called Ambient Lighting Powder, which was designed to utilize different sources of light. The product did so well Janes expanded the franchise with blush.

In terms of how the brand communicates innovation to the consumer, Hourglass spends a lot of time developing its marketing strategy and creating an honest explanation and a story to support the product.

“As a small brand I think what we find to be the quickest, best use of our time and resources is sampling,” she said. If you have a great product it is worth the investment to sample, absolutely.”