GIRL TALK: REFOCUSING A BRAND

Byline: Katherine Bowers

LOS ANGELES — Ask Girl Cosmetics founder Shawn Haynes how business is and he’ll tell you he has hit a milestone: He can now afford to hire his father.
Then he’ll tell you that the company reached $2 million in retail sales, doubling industry predictions from a year ago. Bloomingdale’s, Sephora, Liberty House and Nordstrom carry the line, as well as other specialty retailers in the U.S. and abroad. Fans of the three-year-old line include Britney Spears and Courteney Cox Arquette, who sends thank you notes for gift packages. Still, Haynes has long had his eye on bringing the elder Haynes, who is a veteran cosmetics distributor and sales rep, on board to help coalesce the brand’s image and help it grow.
Step one for the Haynes family: Redesign the packaging for brand cohesiveness. The Los Angeles headquarters speaks volumes about how seriously the younger Haynes takes the branding initiative. The place is small but immaculate, with plummy velvet chairs and a curvy chaise that match the Web site and the new boxes. Cantaloupe-size disco balls hang from new display units and sprinkle light over redesigned cases and compacts.
The new boxes are deep purple — one of fall’s hottest colors — with a streak of silver holographic paper for sparkle. The logo has gone from a Seventies’ sans-seraph bubble font to a Fifties’ style script that appears to press slightly forward. “It looks kind of timeless to me,” said Haynes. “Like the lettering on an old Cadillac.”
The new cases are brushed silver with accents of purple. Chubby compacts feature hinged compartments — the top holds color, and the bottom holds an applicator and a mirror.
Step two: Relaunch the Web site to focus on e-commerce and new, interactive content, including step-by-step makeup application instructions to create certain looks.
“We’d like to advertise, but we’re not at that level yet. The Web site is a good start, though,” said Haynes.
The site was relaunched in August and sales have quadrupled since then, according to Haynes.
The new packaging and redesigned Web site come after what Haynes calls a branding misstep. In 1998, the company introduced the Velvet Goldmine collection that featured gold casing and packaging with the words “Velvet Goldmine.” It was inspired by the movie of the same name, which happened to be written by Haynes’s brother, Todd.
Haynes said the collection confused consumers who didn’t associate it with Girl Cosmetics. Haynes said the company still holds Velvet Goldmine inventory, which it plans to sell off.
The company is backing up its new look with more international business. Haynes has inked a deal with Sephora Japan to carry the line starting in January 2001. House of Fraiser, a U.K.-based retail chain and Rustan’s, a Manila-based retail chain, also carry the line, and the company is in negotiations with The Bay, a department store chain owned and operated by Toronto-based Hudson Bay Co., Canada’s largest retailer.
Girl will also be launching products targeted to the spring, fall and holiday selling seasons. The company’s holiday collection, featuring mascara in gold and silver and lip liners, will hit retail in October. For spring, Haynes is planning to add matte lipsticks, pressed powder foundation, concealer, potted lip gloss and more neutral shades of eye shadow.
Retail price points range from $10 for loose glitter to $18 for blushes and highlighters.
Despite the renewed focus on strategy and growth, Haynes said his heart is still with the creative side of the business.
“I love developing and I’d love to continue to create and not worry about anything else,” he said.

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