THE EXPANDING WORLD OF THREE CUSTOM COLOR SPECIALISTS

Byline: Cassandra Chiacchio

NEW YORK — What do a vintage bordeaux rabbit fur tassel, dried rose petals and an ad featuring a model’s lips have in common? Well, to someone out in America, these represented the perfect shade of lipstick.
This interesting assortment of items is just a sample of what gets sent to the office of Three Custom Color Specialists, a company that creates both ready-to-wear and custom-blended cosmetics. This year, Scott Catto, Trae Bodge and Chad Hayduk, the founders of Three Custom Color Specialists — also knows as 3C — have big plans for the four-year-old brand. These include adding new categories, doubling distribution and quadrupling retail sales — about $1 million last year — to $4 million worldwide.
This month, eye shadows, brow powders, eye pencils and brushes were added to 3C’s collection. The line previously comprised custom-blended and ready-to-wear lipsticks, glosses and creme-to-powder blushes, as well as lip liners.
The trio felt that adding eye products to the 3C collection was the next necessary step for growth. “There are 40 different shades of the ready-to-wear eye shadows,” said Bodge, who is the creative director at 3C. “And of course, we can custom-blend them as well.” The eye shadows are available in single compacts and in refillable sets of three.
The brand will get even bigger come summer when ready-to-wear and custom-blended face powders and concealers are added to the mix. Mascara and a clear brow gel will follow, and foundation is in the works.
Color has always been first and foremost for the trio, who met years ago at a nightclub called The Tunnel. Following that encounter, Bodge and Hayduk both got their start at Visage Beaute, a company known for its custom blending. “It was so ahead of the times,” said Hayduk, the company’s training director. “It was a good lesson as to what we should and shouldn’t do.” The two later moved on to Kiehl’s. Catto, who is 3C’s managing director, heads up the business aspect of the operation and had worked as an art dealer and director of an art gallery in SoHo for a number of years.
When they started Three Custom Color Specialists, the group found they had no need for color forecasting. “Our customers told us what we need to do,” said Hayduk. “The ready-to-wear collection is influenced by our custom-blending business. And we never discontinue.”
However, custom blending counts for a big chunk of business for the company. “Our mail order business is about 75 percent custom blending, and at a store level, about 20 percent,” said Catto.
In the one-on-one consultations at stores like Henri Bendel, colors can be created right in front of a customer’s eyes. “About 45 minutes later, you can pick it up,” said Bodge.
And, said Hayduk, “we do a lot of work with discontinued colors — old Yves Saint Laurent colors, old Revlon colors.” In fact, to pay homage to some of the older colors the company gets asked to reproduce, they created a lip palette called A Century in Red that contains different shades of red made popular by each decade of the 20th century.
Prices in the line range from $12.50 for a lip liner to $45 for a lip color palette; brushes are $3.50 for a replacement palette brush to $55 for an upcoming face powder brush. As for the custom-blended products, two tubes of lipstick or two pots of lip gloss are $50, a single pot of creme-to-powder blush is $37.50 and a single compact of eye shadow or brow powder is $33.50.
The line is currently sold in 30 doors worldwide. About 15 are in the U.S., including Henri Bendel and E6 Apothecary in Boston. The products are also sold on the company’s Web site, Threecustom.com. Bodge, Catto and Hayduk hope to add another 30 stores by the end of 2001.