Direct-to-consumer e-commerce beauty brand Julep is heading to Ulta Beauty.
This will be the almost decade-old brand’s most significant off-line presence to date, according to Jane Park, founder and chief executive officer of Julep. From July 31 to Aug. 4, the brand will enter 250 Ulta doors with its 57 most popular products — including Love Your Bare Face cleansing oil and It’s Whipped matte lip mousse. An additional 50 doors will start to carry Julep during the fourth quarter, with plans to add more in 2017. This will give Julep, which has already launched a handful of products on ulta.com, a presence in about a third of the specialty chain’s 900 doors.
“When we reached out to our online consumer to find out where they shopped, it was overwhelmingly Ulta,” Park told WWD. “We want to do omnichannel differently.”
For Park, it’s possible today to target customers who are Ulta and Julep fans with online advertising — but this is just the first step. It’s connecting with this shopper online and off-line in a coordinated way.
“It’s not saying, ‘Hey we have a product that you can buy on or off-line.’ That’s the most boring part of omnichannel. We want to engage her in different ways,” Park said, citing live Facebook chats, in-person meet-ups and allowing customers to vote on colors as ways to let the consumer participate in the brand conversation.
Once when Park was in Austin, Texas, she tweeted her location and asked people to meet her and 200 people showed up; she did it another time when she was in Chicago and just six people showed up. In early May during a trip to Philadelphia, Park tweeted about a similar meet-up she was hosting from 6 to 9 p.m., which she said turned into “people ordering bourbon at midnight and all of a sudden I had [them] in my hotel room with me. It was 1:30 a.m.”
Julep, which has invited its customers to co-create products in the past, will for the first time bring crowd sourcing and social feedback to Ulta’s customers. A $14 Ultamate Fuchsia nail polish, exclusive to the retailer, was created with input from consumers in Ulta’s Ultamate Rewards Program. Typically, items are made in small batches and tested with Julep’s most loyal customers and if popular, are manufactured in mass quantities and sold on julep.com.
Also merchandised beside Julep’s best-selling skin-care and makeup stockkeeping units will be four Trend in 10 kits, which are all exclusive to Ulta: Work It, Get Glowing, Glam It Up and Korean Skincare Made Simple.
“In creating these sets, we took the conversation we were having online and what people wanted. [They] wanted simplified looks. We were always getting asked how to do a smoky eye [for example],” Park explained. “I hate the current contouring [trend]; everything has to be perfect and it can be complicated. Our whole idea is, how do we simplify that? It’s not a makeup artistry brand, it’s about everyday women and working women.”
Park said the Trend in 10 Kits, which contain everything you need to achieve a desired trend or look, from “Get Glowing” to “Korean Skincare Made Simple,” retail from $39 to $49.
Julep and Ulta declined to comment on sales projections, but a source told WWD the partnership is significant. Projected retail sales for the line at Ulta during the first 12 months is between $20 million and $25 million, according to an industry estimate.
“ Julep’s use of social platforms is a great example as they routinely incorporate customer insights to develop their products,” added Tara Simon, senior vice president of prestige merchandising at Ulta. “Our decision to partner with Julep is a reflection of our commitment to provide our guests with the most innovative beauty products and a deeply personalized experience both in store and online.”