LOS ANGELES — Working as beauty editors brought Belén Aranda-Alvarado and Anna Lisa Raya to two admissions: They really did love makeup, and the market is saturated with options either for girls who glitter or women preoccupied with age-defying potions.
“There are great brands out there we love, but there’s this bipolar state in the beauty industry,” said Aranda-Alvarado. “There’s all this focus on either the teen market, with all this fun, gadgety packaging — but colors I’d never wear. I don’t want to look like a glam rocker.” Added Raya, “Then with the ‘adult’ stuff,’ well, I can’t even get to the colors, because so much of the packaging out there is so dull. I want fun. I want color. And I’m not interested yet in refining lines. There’s so much complication out there. You get to the counter and you don’t even know where to start.”
With the aim to offer products that are “fun, fast and wearable,” the duo founded Wink Beauty late last year, with the first stockkeeping units delivered this season to boutiques such as Maskim Spa in New York and Oranje in Milwaukee. The pair also immediately set up an e-commerce outlet at winkbeauty.com.
The rollout collection is Double Trouble, a four-sku line that could have easily been called Double Duty. Boxed in pink and white polkadots with a printed-on black ribbon, each item is actually two products in one: a lip gloss with a pearl-tipped lip liner that pulls out of the tall and skinny cap, or a pearl-tipped eyeliner pencil paired with the mascara. The three shades of glosses are a pinky nude called First Date; Second Date, a berry shade, and Take Me Home, a hot fuchsia. The shimmery black pencil-black mascara combo is called Bad Ass. Each retails for $18.
“It was very key that they were in two-in-one, very compact and easy to put in your back pocket or in a tiny purse,” said Aranda-Alvarado. “As editors, we can look at the market, see the weak points, the strong points. It’s our job to siphon things out and determine what’s good and relevant for the reader. It’s a great background for doing just this.”
Despite having a fan in teen actress Evan Rachel Wood, who wore Wink glosses during the recent run of award shows, the line is targeted at women ages 25 to 45.
The founders met a decade ago during a social protest while they were undergrads at Columbia University. The English majors segued their friendship into an internship in the beauty department at Elle magazine, where they said they realized their futures. Raya returned to her native Los Angeles, where she co-launched Scoop at People magazine, then moved to Angeleno, Movieline and Variety, where she helped start up the consumer lifestyle-entertainment sister pub Vlife. She continues at the helm of the bimonthly magazine.
Aranda-Alvarado spent the five years after graduation as beauty editor at Latina magazine. She followed that up in 2000 by authoring the first beauty book for the U.S. Hispanic market, “Latina Beauty: The Get Gorgeous Guide for Every Mujer.” Two years later she finished Harvard Business School with an M.B.A. and the idea to launch her own cosmetics line.
More products are slated for the coming months, and first-year company sales are projected at $500,000.
“We not in this to grow quickly,” insisted Aranda-Alvarado, who lives in Maryland with her husband and infant daughter and continues as a beauty contributor to Allure, The Washington Post and other publications. “And that’s a key role independent retailers play in helping to cultivate a brand. We’re not going to put another sku out there just because.”