REFLECT: JUST CLICK HERE FOR HELP
Byline: Laura Klepacki
NEW YORK — Women sign on to Reflect.com for the chance to design beauty products that suit their needs. Now, the site is adding three professional advisers to help them make the right choices.
Hair stylist Steven Dillon, who is opening his first salon later this month in SoHo, will offer guidance on hair. He said he has found women sometimes need assistance to objectively assess themselves. “Most women really don’t understand their hair texture and face shape,” said Dillon, who honed his talents at the Brad Johns and Pierre Michel salons here.
While details are still being made final, Dillon’s advice probably will be proffered through a personal column and chat sessions. And at his new salon, kiosks will be set up providing customers access to the Reflect site.
“Where I will come in at Reflect.com is to help women understand themselves better,” said Dillon, who doesn’t appear daunted about not being face to face with clients. “It will be a little more difficult, but it should be a lot of fun and we can really experiment. We will keep trying until we get it right.”
If need be, he said, sending him a photo could be an option.
Ginger Kent, chief executive at Reflect.com, stresses that meeting a customer’s expectation is the key concern. “If we don’t meet the customer’s needs, we will recustomize until we get it right,” she said.
Along with Dillon, Dr. H. Debra Jaliman, a dermatologist and clinical instructor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, is coming on board to handle skin care questions. And makeup artist Brigitte Reiss-Andersen will make color recommendations. In addition to doing editorial work, Reiss-Andersen lists Catherine Deneuve and Mariah Carey among her clients.
Kent, who joined Reflect.com from Hasbro in December, said the site’s business was on track. “We are meeting and exceeding our sales goals,” she said, although she declined to provide details.
“We are extremely pleased with the number of people coming to the site, and the number of people buying from us. The big thing is our repurchase rate,” said Kent, commenting that it was higher than industry average. “That is the true judge of whether something will be successful or not — whether they come back.”
She said the advisers would play an active role, providing insight and offering beauty tips. “They will also help our product development people, making sure we get all the right formulations and to keep Reflect on the cutting edge,” she added.
Reflect.com, a joint venture of Procter & Gamble and Institutional Venture Partners, was created in September with a $50 million investment. P&G is the majority equity partner. The site opened with a soft launch through select Internet servers in December and now is available throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Kent has been surprised by how purchases are skewing. While the site currently offers products in skin care, cosmetics and hair care, cosmetics is emerging as the sales leader, with lipstick and foundation as top items. “That is the torture test of customization — picking shades on line. But we are seeing a huge degree of satisfaction.”
Other cosmetics offerings are lip liners, pressed and loose powders and concealers. Blush will be added in the next few weeks and eye products will soon follow. And fragrance is a likely area of expansion, noted Kent. “We are still looking at it. I hope very much it will be this year.”
At this point, visitors to Reflect are from all demographics, and while cosmetics are leading, “we are having people buy all products,” said Kent. Even a smattering of men have signed on, particularly showing interest in shampoo.
Because of its “strong financial model and unique product concept,” Kent said she believed Reflect.com would survive an expected shakeout of beauty e-commerce sites. Already there have been acquisitions in the field. Estee Lauder purchased Gloss.com, and Drugstore.com absorbed beauty.com.
Along with Kent, Reflect’s management team includes Richard Gerstein, vice president of design marketing, formerly of P&G; Tom Schultz, a former Chanel executive, director of product development; and Diane deCordova, vice president of business development, who was with Excite.com. Jonathan Grayson, formerly with Macromedia, is vice president of engineering, and Alex Zelikovsky, previously with Amazon.com, is now Reflect’s chief logistics officer.