STILA’S SPORTY TAKE ON COSMETICS

Byline: Julie Naughton

NEW YORK — Jeanine Lobell is getting ready to give birth — and we’re not talking about the baby she’s expecting in six weeks.
Instead, she’s preparing to launch her newest addition, Stila Sport, which she calls “the perfect thing to wear when you don’t have the time or the inclination to wear a ton of makeup — it’s a line for people like me.”
It may be somewhat disillusioning to know that Lobell, the Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist who founded Stila in 1994, doesn’t wear much more than mascara, cheek color and lip color. But, as she points out, in between creating new products, doing magazine spreads and raising two — soon to be three — kids, she’s your “typical mom.”
Well, not exactly. Most average homemakers didn’t sell their companies to the Estee Lauder Cos, as Lobell did with Stila last August, for an estimated $25 to $30 million. Before the acquisition, Lobell ran both the business and product development sides of Stila. But after the sale, Lobell — who assumed the title of president and chief executive officer last August and who retains creative control over the brand — is proceeding full speed ahead on product development.
Stila Sport is the first collection to be introduced since the Lauder acquisition, and Lobell is proud that it’s a variation from Stila’s traditional line in many ways.
“It offers a different attitude, lower price points and a new logo,” she pointed out. “All of the things are either multi-use, or they give a lot of effect for little effort. They’re all long-wearing. It’s not a tae-bo mentality — it’s an urban mentality. And I wanted to have more of the products to have more of a disposable quality. You know how you have sturdy things you can put in a bag? I wanted a line you could feel comfortable putting in the ashtray of the car. It’s a little more irreverent.”
The line includes 28 stockkeeping units, nearly all suitable for use anywhere on the face. They include five Color Courier shades, $20; three Color Push-Ups, which resemble tiny deodorants, $20; 10 Pivotal Skin sku’s, a foundation sku that resembles an ink pad, $25; eight Bare Color sku’s, which resembles a ChapStick container, $12, and one Lash Visor mascara, $16. One product in the line, H2Off, debuted in May. An easily toteable package of 40 green-tea infused cleansing cloths that are reminiscent of baby wipes, H2Off retails for $18. Not only does the line have a new attitude, it introduces new, lower price points for Stila.
The Stila classic brand, for the most part, is packaged in eco-friendly, colored cardboard and coated-paper containers. The Stila Sport line uses plastic — a boon for users who can find that the trendy cardboard containers can get a bit beaten up in a purse or tote. The minimalist packaging — clear, white and gray containers with a white and orange Stila Sport logo — is intended to be easily portable.
“It’s a totally new thing for us,” she said. “People hear the word sport, and they think that this is a young athletic-girl line. It’s not; it’s really just more alternative, more edgy, more urban. Nearly every product can serve more than one purpose, which means you don’t have to tote everything around with you. And it’s slightly more casual. Let’s face it — if you’re going to the Hamptons for the weekend, you’re not going to run around in your shorts with a full face of makeup.”
The complete line will launch in Stila’s U.S. doors, which include 155 specialty store doors, including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Sephora, in September. There are already plans to expand it next spring. “I want to go further into skin care, and add sunscreen things,” said Lobell. “But really, we don’t need another sunscreen unless it has a twist. I’m always staring at things, trying to figure out how I can do them better — whether it’s the packaging, the color or the way that you apply it.”
While Lobell wouldn’t talk projected numbers, industry sources put the number at $8-to $10-million. While Lauder doesn’t break out sales figures for individual companies, Stila’s wholesale volume reportedly hit $26 million in 1999, up from some $15 million in 1998. Those estimates include revenue from the catalog mail order business.
An “aggressive” print campaign is planned, including ads in women’s consumer magazines throughout the fall, said Lobell. While she wouldn’t comment on the ad budget, sources said it could top $2 million.
Globally, Stila continues to add doors. Stila was formerly handled in Japan by Shiseido; Lauder has just completed bringing its distribution in-house, said Lobell. The brand is also being sold in France, the U.K., Australia, Hong Kong, Sweden and Ireland, and may soon launch in Spain. And that’s not all, said Lobell. “They [Lauder] have so much going on internationally, and they have their Internet project, which will offer even more possibilities for Stila.”
Lobell is enthusiastic about a few other Lauder things. “I like to keep the intuition alive, but it’s great to have so much access to information,” said Lobell. “Before, I did so many things that were not based on charts and graphs — but I have to say that it’s nice to be able to look at them. And Leonard [Lauder] just blows my mind — he’s an amazing man and simply being around him is an incredible education in this industry. I’m just a big old sponge — I want to learn more and more.”

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