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Madison Reed Builds Distribution by Launching on QVC

The San Francisco-based hair-color company is on track to triple or quadruple its business this year.

Madison Reed is heading to QVC to convince women to upgrade their at-home and salon hair-color routines.

The launch on the home-shopping network this week on the Friday Night Beauty Show is the latest push by the San Francisco-based brand outside of the direct-to-consumer space. Last year, it broke into physical retail with Root Touch Up, which will be centerpiece of the QVC appearance as well, at Sephora, where the brand is rolling out to 300 doors by the end of May.

“Our customers are everywhere. They are shopping online for things; they are watching QVC; they are going into Sephora stores and are on; and we need to be everywhere she is to give her exposure to the brand,” said Amy Errett, cofounder and chief executive officer of three-year-old Madison Reed. “In all our channels, our sales are strong. It is all additive, not dilutive. We believe offline and online together is a way to build a profitable, large company.”

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Madison Reed is bringing Root Touch Up, a product Errett described as makeup for hair, to QVC because she suggested it’s easy to demonstrate its quick ability to conceal unwanted grays and roots. Available in seven shades, the product contains keratin, argan oil, ginseng root and micro-milled pigments, the key to the formula withstanding rain, sweat and sleep. While half of Madison Reed’s customers come to the brand dyeing their hair at home and the other half at salons, Root Touch Up applies to them regardless of their hair-coloring history.

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“The root touch-up category two years ago didn’t exist, and now it is flourishing. We think we are a leader in the category. We have very natural-looking shades,” said Errett. “I’m blonde and, when my darker roots are showing, and I’m a week late getting my hair colored, I need something to cover my roots, and I can throw this [Root Touch Up] compact into my bag and use it on the way to the gym. It’s a very approachable product as well as being very prestige. It comes in a compact that’s beautiful and weighty.”

Madison Reed’s assortment extends beyond Root Touch Up. It sells 34 shades of permanent hair color that will soon climb to 40 shades. To refresh color-treated hair, Madison Reed also has a line of eight sheer tints recently introduced on called Color Reviving Gloss. Rounding out its product portfolio are hair-coloring tools, styling products for colored hair, shampoo and conditioner. Prices range mostly from $7 to $37.

Madison Reed’s digital flagship remains the biggest portion of its business, but the brand’s distribution is diversifying immensely. In addition to Sephora and QVC, it has spread into close to 70 spas and salons. “This year, we will grow between 3.5x and 4x. Our subscriber base has been growing dramatically. The majority of our subscribers are subscribing for permanent color every six weeks,” said Errett.

Investors have been bullish on Madison Reed, pouring around $32 million into the company and placing high expectations on its performance. “We have to be a well-run company that shows a path to profitability. We are focused on metrics and all the things that good financial stewards are focused on,” said Errett. “The challenge is: how can we scale? We are no longer really a start-up. We are a company that is shipping thousands upon thousands of units daily, and we have to earn our right to compete with the big guys.”

Competing with the big guys means first succeeding on QVC. Errett will be the face of Madison Reed on the channel, and she’s busy perfecting her pitch. “I probably have watched 60 to 70 hours of QVC in the last 30 days,” she said. “It isn’t really about sales. This is about an opportunity to have a personal relationship with the customer. The most important thing is to speak authentically from our heart about the virtues of the product, and the rest will follow.”