FACING A CLUTTERED FUTURE
THE INDEPENDENT SEGMENT OF THE INDUSTRY IS HOTTER THAN EVER. BUT THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS HAS ATTRACTED DOZENS AND DOZENS OF NEWCOMERS. IT’S GOING TO BE A CHALLENGE TO KEEP ABOVE THE CLUTTER IN THE MONTHS AHEAD.
Byline: Kerry Diamond
NEW YORK — What’s hotter than the beauty business these days? Everybody wants a piece of the action, from makeup artists to models to retailers to cosmetics junkies.
As a result, the independent segment of the industry has exploded with so many new brands and boutiques that it’s hard to keep track of everything and everybody. It’s like the music industry during the grunge era, or like Hollywood after Sundance became the place to show and be seen.
All this activity will translate into a very busy fall. Existing companies are introducing a slew of new stockkeeping units, and there are dozens of newcomers getting ready to unleash their wares on the world. Among those making their debut this fall are Sue Devitt, Pretty Pretty, Tarte, Allison Raffaele, Jeni Lee, Sugar and Izu — and that’s just in the color-cosmetics category.
“There’s more newness than I’ve seen in a long time,” said Laura Saio, cosmetics buyer at Henri Bendel. “It reminds me of the time after MAC launched, when you had all these new makeup-artist lines.”
For their part, the established indie brands don’t seem too worried about the season ahead. Those interviewed by WWD said their businesses are doing well, and they expect significant gains in the fall. And the new companies don’t seem to pose too much of a threat.
“The beauty business has become like the fragrance business in the Eighties,” said Jerrod Blandino, a makeup artist and the co-founder of Too Faced, the kitschy, Los Angeles-based cosmetics brand. “There are too many companies who don’t know or respect the art of makeup and just think they can throw anything out there and rake in the cash. People these days can see through these phonies, and I believe they will fall away.”
Here is what some other companies had to say about the months ahead:
Aedes de Venustas
This tiny Greenwich Village perfumery, which specializes in hard-to-find cult fragrances, has seen several other establishments try to hone in on its niche. But the boutique is thriving thanks to an emphasis on customer service, said co-owner Karl Bradl.
“If items are in stock, we ship same-day and strive for prompt follow up on orders and special requests,” he noted. “We also make sure that one of the owners is always in the store, every single day, to help the customers. We realized that this is also a strong factor for people coming back to Aedes.
“We even found people discussing our customer service in various chat groups within the beauty Web sites!”
This fall, Aedes will publish a new edition of its popular catalog, which features page after page of beautiful fragrance bottles. October will mark the launch of the remodeled aedes.com.
“The goal of aedes.com is to bring lines together that are unique and hard to find, especially on the Web,” Bradl explained. “Aedes.com will be known as a Web site with exclusive and luxurious products, like L’Artisan Parfumeur, Etro, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, Diptyque, and Czech & Speake, which are all lines that common beauty sites do not offer.”
As for sales, Bradl said the business is growing: “We expect to be stronger in the second half, because of the fall catalog and remodeled e-commerce Web site.”
One of the biggest challenges going forward is staying ahead of the competition.
“I think the key to being successful in operating a small, independent perfumery like ours is to select very carefully what product lines are offered — especially in a small store like ours,” Bradl said. “To stay successful, it is necessary to keep merchandising special and unique. It is getting harder these days, with more and more stores opening up and companies overdistributing their merchandise. We are not so concerned, since most of the fragrance lines we offer share our philosophy about uniqueness and wouldn’t sell to mass-market stores.”
One way Aedes will stay ahead of the curve is with a signature collection of fragrances. According to Bradl, the line of “old-world inspired” scents is in the works.
It’s been a good year for Demeter so far. The company surprised the industry when it took home not one, but two FiFi’s at the Fragrance Foundation awards last month. It also has proven to be a popular brand online, thanks to its affordable price points — $15 for a 1-oz. bottle of its Pick-Me-Up Cologne Sprays — and its fun sensibility and straightforward names.
“Business will grow strongly for us, especially on the Internet,” said Christopher Gable, co-founder of Demeter. “The Net will become a larger and larger percentage of our business, and specialty retailers also will figure prominently. These are the venues where people of all types find their indulgences now.”
Gable didn’t want to reveal specifics about new products, but he said the company will be launching some Christmas-themed scents, as well as a special product exclusively for Sephora. “We’re also finalizing details with a major food company for a cobranded fragrance product,” he noted.
The company continues to scout for a location for its next perfumery. San Francisco is leading the list of contending cities. Last year, Demeter opened its first freestanding store, in New York’s East Village
This Chicago beauty boutique opened its doors eight months ago in the Lincoln Park area as a source for hot beauty products. It has found a following thanks to an interesting lineup of brands, colorful decor and fun extras, like local disc jockeys spinning tunes on the weekends.
This fall, Endo-Exo will add a third makeup line — negotiations are still underway, said co-owner Stephanie Salerno — plus high-end stockings, hair accessories by Colette Malouf and petite purses by Patch NYC and Ro.
“Also, we hope to have a small catalog by the fall or holiday season to highlight our ‘essential’ products,” said Salerno.
Despite competition from department stores and the Internet, business has been booming for Endo-Exo. “Our sales have been rapidly and steadily increasing. Each month, our sales have risen approximately 15 percent over the previous month,” Salerno noted.
She knows that the competition is only going to increase. “Independent beauty boutiques are really a hot concept in today’s retail world,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many people come into my store and say, ‘I want to open a store just like this myself!’ It’s kind of frustrating, but I guess it’s a good indication of how popular this style of boutique is becoming. Customers really appreciate the experience of discovering a hot independent store, as opposed to a department store or corporate chain.”
Fred Segal Essentials
This Santa Monica boutique is a landmark on the beauty map, but it too has felt the need to respond to the competition.
“We are emphasizing events to highlight new or specialty products and create a festive atmosphere with personalized service,” said owner Robin Coe-Hutshing. “We will be featuring merchandise with active product sampling and demonstrations in-store, ranging from skin and hair analysis to brow-shaping events.”
This fall, Coe-Hutshing will be adding several brands.
“We are concentrating on rounding our assortments in key categories,” Coe-Hutshing said. “We are expanding our men’s business with the launch of a new men’s line called Anthony Logistics. We are expanding our clinical skin care category to include Epicuren Discovery products, which are incredible! Our baby range will include a new line from Italy called Bambini Soul, and in our perfumery area, we are bringing in Etro fragrances.
Coe-Hutshing is on the hunt for a product range that addresses the younger teen market, and she also plans to restructure the bath and body section.
As for business, she said the beginning of the year was “slightly rocky.” “But now we are experiencing very healthy increases, and we expect to finish the second half of this year with a 25 to 30 percent increase over last year.”
Coe-Hutshing already is looking forward to fall 2001, when a major project of hers is expected to debut. Called Product, it is a line of personal-care products she has developed with Shayne Hart and Kelly Kovack of Chemistry.
It’s been a good year for Fresh, the Boston-based beauty brand created by two Russian immigrants, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg.
“Our business has been growing 85 percent over last year,” noted Glazman. “We added Sephora in May. Our Barneys New York business has doubled, and our Neiman business is growing dramatically. I think the brand recognition of Fresh is really kicking in.”
As for the three Fresh stores — two in New York, one in Boston — business is 7 percent over what the company had projected. Glazman would like to open additional stores, but he said there is no rush. “We sort of are not there yet,” he said. “Next year, we’ll address a full retail expansion. We definitely see a minimum of five to eight stores in the next two years. London is definitely a possibility.”
On the personnel front, the company had hired Joyce Avalon, who has worked at Barneys and Philosophy, as marketing and distribution director.
As for products, the 18 new sku’s launching this fall include a new candle collection, a milk cleanser, a soy eye cream, a soy makeup remover and two new Index fragrances: Jasmine Lys and Grapefruit Moss. “It’s less products than usual, but right now we’re really focusing on items,” said Glazman.
Fresh began introducing makeup last year, and by April 2001, it will have a complete line of cosmetics.
Joey New York
It’s going to be a busy fall for the folks at Joey New York, the quirky skin-care line.
According to chief executive officer Joey Roer, the line is expanding into 25 additional Nordstrom stores, all Parisian stores, five Saks Fifth Avenue stores, 11 Bloomingdale’s stores, Holt Renfrew in Canada, House Of Fraser in England and Sony stores in Japan.
“Also, as every new Sephora opens, we have a branded area in the store,” Roer said.
New Web sites include 2glow.com, German site beautyspy.com, and looks.com, an Asian site.
As for products, Joey will launch 10 new stockkeeping units, which include three sku’s for hair care, three sku’s for the Calm & Correct collection and three new flavors for the Delipcious lip-balm line. In late fall, Joey is scheduled to launch cosmetics.
To promote the line, Roer has a regular schedule of personal appearances, which features stops in Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue locations across the country. Also, the company will offer a gift with purchase from Bloomingdale’s by Mail catalog and several beauty Web sites.
Roer expects business to double over last year.
Not everyone with a makeup-artist line is truly a makeup artist. But Vincent Longo is the real deal.
Last week, the Australian native — who bears more than a passing resemblance to Richard Gere — was in Florida, where he did singer Tori Amos’s makeup for a Vanity Fair shoot.
But this week, he was wearing his cosmetics-entrepreneur cap. He squeezed in a quick chat about his company’s immediate future before flying to Italy to meet with his manufacturer. “I’m going to finalize the color aspects of some exciting new stuff we have coming out,” he said.
Concerned about his competitors, Longo would say only that the new line is called Ultrafusion and that it’s for cheeks and eyes. He was, however, happy to talk about his new tester units.
“We’ve invested a lot of time and money in this,” he said. “It’s brushed nickel, and it’s due in early September. We felt it was time for something that could house the expansion of the range. We’re getting to the 200 sku mark.”
Longo said sales for the line have been strong, both online and off line. “Our growth rate at Barneys has been phenomenal, up triple digits,” he reported. “Overall, it’s going to be a fabulous year. We’re looking at a 60 and 70 percent increase over last year.”
Currently Vincent Longo is sold on eve.com and sephora.com, and both rank among the brand’s top 15 outlets. “I foresee them going into the top 10 next year,” Longo said. “I’m looking at other Web sites, but our strategy is to keep distribution tight. I’ve been cautious about expanding too fast and too early.”
It’s going to be a weird second half for Poppy, the Australian cosmetics company led by the irrepressible Poppy King. But in a good way.
“Our business will be eclectic in every way, shape and form,” reported King via e-mail from Down Under. “What a diverse portfolio — Harvey Nichols, black swirls and gymnasts. What next?!”
The company, she explained, is in talks with Harvey Nichols and other exclusive stores in London. “We’re also launching in Japan for the very first time,” King reported. “The world is getting smaller — at least it is for an itty, bitty brand like ours.”
As for the black swirls, that is a reference to Poppy’s newest product: “We have gone to the extreme this fall with a lipstick straight out of the Twenties. It is called Bete Noire, and it is a wicked red lipstick with a black swirl down the center that mixes on your lips to give you the look of a decadent flapper.”
As for the gymnasts, that of course refers to the Summer Olympics taking place in Australia this September. King has created a lipstick for some members of the Australian gymnastics team to wear during competition. Called Grace, it will be sold for a limited time starting in September and will retail for $12.50.
This second half will be as competitive for the indie brands as it will be for the Olympians, but King believes companies like hers will thrive.
“Quirky and personal has been a trend for some time now, and the independent brands will continue to star — even though they may not have the financial muscle,” she said. “The more overwhelmed people feel by technology and globalization, the more they look for the human touch. Gone are the days when customers sought perfection; now they look for a message they can relate to.”
Scarlett Messina has a reputation that belies the size of her empire. She regularly appears in the media as a makeup authority, yet she has only one store — a beauty boutique in New Hope, Pa. And she stubbornly refuses to sell her signature line of products anywhere else.
But this fall, the world of Scarlett will begin to expand. On Sept. 1, she will open the second Scarlett location, a 1,400-square-foot shop at 104 South 13th Street in Philadelphia.
“With the Republican convention and the restaurant renaissance, Philly is becoming a very hip city,” she said.
The store will carry many of the same beauty and clothing brands found in the New Hope location, but there will be more of a focus on services, like makeovers and eyebrow maintenance. “I’m striving for exclusivity,” Messina noted. “I’ll be the only one in Philly to carry Naturopathica and things like the Garren hair products.”
Messina’s distribution division, KMR, also is expanding. Its hottest new product is Kiss Me, a Japanese mascara that doesn’t smear or smudge. Removable with water and friction, it comes off in long strands. It comes in black, brown and “a killer blue.”
KMR also reps Comfort and Joy from England and Imago from Switzerland. In the fall, Messina will add a nail line and two additional skin care lines. “The distribution business would do better if I gave the products to everybody,” she admitted. “This was really a backlash against those distributors who give anything to everybody. This is a luxury distribution service.”
Her fall makeup collection, called Centerfold, just went on sale in her boutique. It includes Jet Set Black cake eyeliner, Boudoir Blush, Lip Pouts gloss, Bedroom Eyes shadow and, of course, false eyelashes. Messina expects it to be a best-seller. “The Scarlett Collections do really well,” she said. “I can’t keep the last one, Beauty-a-Bowl, in stock.”
Overall, business was up 17 percent for the first two quarters, and June and the beginning of July were also up double digits. “Business is really good right now,” she said. “After being in business for four years, the store is coming to where I want it to be. I don’t feel stressed about opening in Philly. I have a great manager there and a good staff.”
Messina revealed that she might sell her signature makeup line to other stores. “It’s getting to the point where I may be putting a line together for retail within the next six to eight months,” she said. “I’ve got so much experience, because I was a buyer. I know what stores expect.”
It most likely will be an edited version of the existing line. “We have so many sku’s,” she said. “I’m not going to feature all 70 of my lipsticks. Of course, I’ll be picky and choosy.”
Tony & Tina
Thanks to some some hot products introduced in the spring, this New Age cosmetics company has had a terrific year, reported president Andrew Auwerda.
“Things are really starting to go well for us,” he said. “This spring, we turned the corner. We introduced lip glosses, and it was an easy sell. It was right for our market. It was a whole new category that blew out like our glitter did. We also have two nail colors that we launched that became immediate best-sellers.”
These are Charisma, a sheer, glittery, peachy orange, and Unconditional Love, a glittery pink.
“Business is up between 50 and 100 percent, and that’s based on what we’ve done this spring,” Auwerda said. “We’ll be up 50 percent for the year.”
This fall, Tony & Tina will introduce more than 30 new sku’s, including Universal Color Dusts, which are high-pigment light powders, and Herbal Environmental Rescue Foundation.
The company will discontinue its color compact. “This was something that needed to be sold by a consultant,” said Auwerda. “To me, this is an opportunity. The compacts took up one shelf in every Sephora store. We could fill that space with items that are 10 times more sellable.”
On the distribution front, the brand will go into the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship in New York. Tony & Tina will be carried on the fifth floor, where the younger, hipper clothing and shoe brands are featured. Other new outlets include Nordstrom locations in Chicago and San Francisco, and the DFS Galleria in San Francisco.
Auwerda is very excited about the launch of the company’s first catalog. “It’s 60 pages, and you can order from it,” he said. “We’ll reference all our major accounts in it.”
This Los Angeles-based, kitschy-glam makeup brand will launch several new categories this fall, reported co-owner and makeup artist Jerrod Blandino. There is Gossip Gloss, a lip-gloss wand that comes in shades like Tabloid, Backstabber and Snitch.
“It looks like a piece of sculpture. Totally chic!” raved Blandino. “It is a full-coverage sticky formula that stays put. It’s so Hollywood.”
There will be four glitter pencils that can be used as eyeliners, shadows or lipliners. Lastly, there are Blenders, double-sided foundation sticks that allow the user to custom-blend a perfect shade.
These come on the heels of other introductions in the face category, such as Absolutely Flawless, a foundation powder with matching cream concealer in one compact; Flushed, a double-sided blush; and After Glow, a pure mineral and glitter powder that Blandino said is Too Faced’s most successful product to date.
All this newness plus a planned launch into Europe will contribute to a phenomenal year for Too Faced, predicted Blandino. “With the fantastic business we’re experiencing in the states, Japan and Canada, we’re planning a 300 percent increase.”
Blandino said he has noticed a disturbing trend lately.
“It seems there is a total panic among many of the companies,” he said. “Everyone is trying to buy their business by saturating stores with so much artistry they are losing money. Some of them think they can pay artists to try and make unrealistic goals with hopes that the momentum will continue when they have exhausted their funds. We know this is suicide for a company, because we saw this done numerous times when we worked behind the counter.
“Companies that don’t grow their business by strategic planning, hard work and a commitment to quality will crash and burn once they can no longer afford to pay $21 an hour to their hordes of artists that can only sell at an average rate of $15 to $18 an hour, if that,” he noted.
That said, Blandino thinks the indie category will continue to invigorate the industry.
“The trend companies are a huge influence on the cosmetics industry,” he said. “Like the cool bands that currently dominate MTV, we are young and creative and ahead of the fashion curve. Those of us who survive will continue to grow and dominate.”