Laura Geller’s latest launch, the first major introduction under the ownership of Glansaol, was discovered by happenstance.
Geller, who is well-versed in camera filters used to enhance appearance from her days as a makeup artist, was working on a set with the company’s global artistic director, Ashlee Glazer. She noticed that when Glazer held up one of the brand’s opalescent packages under her chin, the light caught the hues in just the right way. “Her skin looked unbelievable,” Geller told WWD. “I thought if I could figure out a way to capture how her skin looked right then, it would be the coolest thing. Every now and then I have an ‘a-ha’ moment and take it to my product development team.”
The team was up to the task and worked for more than a year to create Filter First Luminous Foundation and Filter First Luminous Concealer. Both are made with finely crushed pearls that act as filters to diffuse light and blur imperfections. The foundations are also infused with antioxidants. Keeping with swelling consumer demand for better-for-you formulas, the items are free of fragrance, glutens, parabens, mineral oil and soy. They are cruelty-free and vegan.
Industry sources estimate the foundation and concealers could add as much as $10 million to the brand’s sales, which are estimated to be approaching $100 million. The company did not comment on its revenues.
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Geller said she feels this could be her biggest launch to date. “We can’t believe we captured this light in a bottle. It is the most gorgeous, light-infusing, blurring foundation I’ve ever created,” Geller said.
Equal effort went into the concealers, which also have the crushed pearls, but were formulated to “not hug skin” and sink into fine lines.
For Geller, who has always been known for contouring, baking and highlighting — three trends emerging from upstart brands — the goal is to be ahead of the game. “The biggest challenge when you have a business that’s been around as long as mine is that I can’t just do the same things I developed 20 years ago.”
The collection of 12 shades of foundation and six choices of concealers is rolling out to retail partners such as Ulta Beauty and Macy’s Inc., as well as on laurageller.com. Filter First will be highlighted in August on QVC as a TSV special. The foundations retail for $38; the concealers $24. Geller said physical store distribution has helped build sales since many, especially younger shoppers, are discovering it for the first time.
Filter First Luminous Foundation and Filter First Luminous Concealer represent the first of a strategy of launching fewer, yet more impactful, beauty products. The brand will concentrate on a full court digital strategy to support the launch, including a shade finder quiz on laurageller.com, custom shade matching through Instagram Direct Messaging, and a larger concentration on influencers through campaigns, sampling initiatives and seven influencer-focused events across the U.S. over the next month and a half.
“If I had to pick a word to describe the past year, it is focus,” said Martine Williamson, president and general manager at Laura Geller. “Our business has been known for kits. We’ve scaled back and are focusing on fewer and bigger launches. This is our first foray for a big launch in the second half.” Laura Geller was acquired along with Julep and Clark’s Botanicals in December 2016 by Glansaol, which is headed by former Revlon Inc. chief executive officer Alan Ennis. At that time, industry sources estimate that combined, the three brands had $100 million in revenue.
With the beauty industry churning out new products seemingly daily, the Laura Geller strategy is to aim for longevity, though there have been new approaches introduced. Before buzz built up surrounding inclusive shades, she ensured her products took undertones into consideration, making them suitable for most consumers.
Geller is hammering that point home in the campaign for Filter First. The creative, tagged “Your Favorite Filter in a Bottle,” captures women in images that have not been altered. The campaign, which includes influencers and even a Geller employee, will spread across digital channels and be featured in the Byrdie Beauty Lab. There will be master classes and a road show in major cities. A big push will come from the TSV in August on QVC, starring Geller.
“We went for all age ranges, all skin tones and all ethnicities,” said Williamson. “We also looked for people with skin challenges such as rosacea or dark acne scars because the whole execution is about no retouching.” The goal is to re-create Geller’s before and after sales approach used on QVC. “The brand has always been inclusive and so welcoming so why not use real women,” Williamson said.