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Zoeva Plots U.S. Expansion With Ulta Beauty Debut

Zoeva is also launching its first foundation.

Zoeva, the brush-turned-makeup brand that started on eBay in Germany, is slated to enter Ulta Beauty.

The launch is part of a major expansion into the U.S. for the brand, which until this year has been primarily distributed in Europe. Zoeva is launching online with Ulta Aug. 10, and going into 302 Ulta Beauty stores Sept. 22, according to founder Zoe Boikou.

Zoeva Plots U.S. Expansion With Ulta
Zoeva has sold more than 18 million makeup brushes since it launched.

“It’s the first time my brand and the products will be physically available in the U.S. market,” Boikou said. “Ulta is going to be a great partner in the US. because they offer a variety of brands that are accessible, which is important to me.”

Boiku started her brand, in part, because she couldn’t find makeup brushes that were affordable.

“I’ve loved makeup since I was four years old,” Boikou said. “When I was in kindergarten, I remember my mom applying her eye makeup. I would stand next to her and I would look up to her while she was putting her blue eye shadow and black eyeliner and I just admired her. Once she applied makeup it transformed her into a strong and confident woman.”

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When she grew up, Boikou related makeup and confidence, and found that her makeup brushes would leave bristles on her face. “Me and my mother, we had the same issue, and we couldn’t afford the high-end products in the market at the time.”

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She started looking into it, and eventually developed a line of makeup brushes that retail for between $10.50 and $35. So far, 18 million have been sold, and the brand has generated a social media presence that includes 1.5 million Instagram followers.

“I started on eBay in 2008 where I began reselling very small batches of makeup brushes,” Boikou said, noting that she would pack orders in her living room. “My consumers and customers at that time, they were so happy with their findings that they started recommending the products to their girlfriends, mothers, sisters and so on. It grew organically — word of mouth has been our most powerful marketing tool.”

Once the brushes caught on, customers started asking Boikou for makeup. “Ten years ago, this was a niche category and there was a big gap in the market, and customers started asking about color products,” Boikou said. She went to Cosmoprof Bologna and figured out how to make them. Now, she has a line of color products with face and eye palettes that run in the $17 to $28 range.

Eventually, Zoeva was picked up by Douglas and expanded gradually throughout Europe. In 2018, it received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners that Boikou said will help to grow the company and build its “structure.” At Ulta, 105 of the brand’s stockkeeping units will be sold online, and 65 will be sold in stores. Boikou declined to estimate just how big the U.S. market could be for the brand, but industry sources estimated that the line was doing about $75 million in retail sales before it hit the U.S.

Zoeva Plots U.S. Expansion With Ulta
Zoeva is launching its first complexion product — Authentik foundation.

Ulta will also be carrying the brand’s upcoming foundation launch — its first foray into complexion. Called Authentik Skin Foundation, Zoeva is launching 44 shades with medium and buildable coverage. The formula is infused with rosehip oil, meant as a skin-care additive, Boikou said. Names are “positive affirmations,” she noted — shades are called things like Joy, Warrior and Glorious.

“I learned everything from scratch. I searched online for everything I wanted to do, from products to how to set up a business,” Boikou said. When she visited U.S. department stores when she was 18, she was awed by the amount of newness the counters had to offer, she said. “It was always the vision to be available in the U.S.,” Boikou noted.

Plus, “there is already a fan base waiting,” she said.