Surratt Beauty is expanding to Space NK in the U.S.
Launched for September, the luxury cosmetics brand is moving into seven stand-alone Space NK stores, plus three Bloomingdale’s-based shops-in-shop in New York and San Francisco. For Surratt, the move adds further distribution, and for Space NK, it adds the line of a living, breathing, working makeup artist.
“I think what Surratt really brings to us first and foremost, is Troy [Surratt, founder of Surratt Beauty] — a live, active, engaged makeup artist,” said Noah Rosenblatt, managing director at Space NK. “It gives us an American makeup artist that we can tap into quite regularly.…The products are really bespoke and very inspired. It really speaks to what we’re looking for, which is this artisan, this formulation, the elevated product, the innovation, all of those are pieces that really fill some of our voids.”
The brand rolls out in conjunction with Space NK’s Expert Edition color campaign for fall 2016, launching after Labor Day. “We thought it was a perfect time to be able to introduce a new color brand as strong as what Surratt Beauty is,” Rosenblatt said. “We had a makeup artist in the U.K. who is in charge of the overall look get face charts from Troy and specific directions from Troy in terms of creating the Surratt look.” That look is featured on the cover of the campaign and mailers. “We are doing a much better job of timing launches to when we can give it the exposure that it needs,” Rosenblatt added.
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“From the inception of the brand, Space NK was on my vision board,” Surratt said. “[Space NK founder] Nicky Kinnaird and I have been friends for years. When I told her what I was doing she wanted to see it — this was, like, five years ago. She literally came over, I had a studio apartment in London Terrace where I was creating everything out of, and she came over and sat on the floor with me and kind of mentored me through the process, helped me edit. I think the aesthetic of the stores is beautiful — modern — and I like a high-touch environment.”
Surratt Beauty, which had an exclusive relationship with Barneys New York in the U.S. between October 2013 and early 2015, has since branched into a handful of new retailers. The brand is also sold at Sephora, Liberty, Harrod’s, Harvey Nichols, Mecca, Violet Grey and Net-a-porter. It will be testing Mecca’s Maxima stores for a potential rollout in the future, according to Surratt chief executive officer Heleyne Tamir.
“We went from just selling at Barneys to Liberty’s, Sephora, Mecca and just fielding calls from around the world,” Tamir said. “In a very short period of time, we’ve just continued expanding. As we have launched in these new stores, we have gone from the test stores, and everyone just wants to roll it out further and further.” The business is anticipated to double sales for 2016, according to industry sources.
“When I launched the brand, the concept for me was to sell in only stores that I liked and where I would like to shop myself. But now the requests that come in are so wide and vast that I don’t know all the shops,” Surratt said. “I am going to the Middle East soon to visit stores and meet with people. The Middle East seems like a big opportunity to us; it’s an area that I would really like to explore.”
“We’re just scratching the surface, so there is a huge opportunity globally and in the U.S.,” Tamir said. As of now, the company has been backed by Surratt and a handful of angel investors, without any formal fund-raising. “We’ve had lots of inquiries, and my response to that is that I am open and receptive to all good…we entertain all inquiries,” Surratt said. “More important for me will be finding someone who gets what we’re trying to do — that we’re trying to raise the bar…but in the meantime, we’re doing OK.”
At the same time as the brand is increasing its distribution, it’s also getting ready to launch new products. Surratt Beauty recently rolled out its Surreal Skin Foundation Wand, $65, which contains both foundation and a brush in one unit. In October, the brand will double its eye shadow offerings with 24 new shades, and bring 12 new products into the cheek category, including shimmering blush and highlighters. The shadows and cheek colors launch exclusively with Sephora, and then roll into other points of distribution in January, Tamir said.
“This winter, part of the concept of my collection is customization and the consumer deciding for themselves what colors work for them, and building palettes to their individual tastes and needs,” Surratt said.
Surratt, both the brand and the artist, have more of an old-school outlook in terms of driving awareness, avoiding the beauty influencer route. “There is so much of attaching yourself to a blogger or influencer for a spike in sales or for the commodity of followers, and reaching people through followers. I just did it the only way I know how, which is to market great products that people find interesting. Great brands are built on creating great products that people desire, not social media platforms,” Surratt said. “I think this bubble will burst…attaching an influencer’s name to a palette.”
The outlook comes with a brand designed to be chic and minimal. “We describe the brand all the time as quiet and confident….Being a new and indie brand, we haven’t been able to create a circus around it,” Surratt said. “I just felt like makeup at a certain price point and at a certain quality level started to feel mumsy to me. It started to feel like a marketer’s idea of what a rich, fancy lady would like. So I wanted to create a heightened level of quality for a young, modern consumer.”
Going forward, Surratt is working on new products, including more shades of liquid liner and its Smoky Eye Batons, as well as considering launching e-commerce. “We’re starting to think about doing our own e-commerce site, but I want it to be different,” Surratt said. “I want it to be very engaging, I want it to almost be like an e-commerce magazine shop.”