I just returned from 4 days in Las Vegas. My feet hurt, and my head is spinning with new ideas. Indeed, I just returned from Cosmoprof/PBA. I have been going to Cosmoprof for the last few years. While I don’t exhibit, I find walking the floor stimulating and the breakout sessions fascinating. I also find that some of the most important meetings in terms of moving Alchimie Forever forward happen at Cosmoprof. And of course, my favorite thing ever, I get to see celebrities. Not Hollywood actresses, but beauty CEOs and personalities. During these past four days, I saw Tabatha Coffey, Antoinette Beenders, Essie Weingarten, Jane Iredale, and more. Love, love, love it!
Most importantly during this show, two breakout sessions truly inspired me.
The first was entitled Look Back, Look Forward, and was moderated by Jeff Falk of GCI Magazine. Three experts in the beauty field shared their vision of the current beauty landscape. My favorite speaker on this panel was Alisa Marie Beyer, of The Benchmarking Company. The Benchmarking Company (Alisa’s latest company in a series of successful entrepreneurial ventures) focuses on providing beauty brands with the most current and relevant consumer research and trends. Alisa knows what women want. She identified six trends that illustrate the shift in the beauty consumer’s perspective, under the theme “she’s come undone and she’s not coming back.”
- Self renovation fascination: She likes self-help, and my brand has to play a role in “making her a better her.”
- Outsourcers-r-us: My brand has to become her “expert peep.”
- Me-moments: She likes “special me time” and doesn’t feel guilty about it. She craves peace, purposes, and passion in moments during which she severs herself from her ever-growing lost of responsibilities. “Mommy-free” zone.
- Home base: locavore living; importance of local communities. How does my brand make her feel she is supporting her local community?
- Entitlement: youth on demand. She wants products that work, and that work immediately. She wants to look younger now, and is starting at an increasingly younger age to believe that “young-looking is my right.”
- Rolling Holy: Faith. Personal responsibility. Forgiveness. Generosity. Gratitude. Love. How does my brand embody these attitudes and beliefs?
The following day, I attended a panel on Niche Beauty Breakthroughs. I mean, which niche brand doesn’t need help from those who have “been there, done that” and have successfully gained traction in the marketplace? This panel was comprised of three speakers, among whom Jane Iredale herself. She spoke for twenty minutes in her delightfully sophisticated English accent, and told her story. She started with a great quote by Winston Churchill: “Never give up,” and told the audience about her arrival in the US from the UK, with 40 pounds in her pocket and 6 antique watches she was hoping to sell. No one bought them, which forced her to find a real job. After a career in show business, she experienced what she termed “showbiz burnout” which led to the creation of her makeup line, initially called Innovation. Among her key learning experiences:
- Collateral material has to be authentic to be effective; we all know of the famous ½ made-up photo of Jane herself. Abandon hyperbole in your claims.
- Seemingly useless or unrelated experiences accumulate to the point where suddenly you’re actually equipped for an opportunity.
- Relationships are important. Especially the one with your banker – tell him/her the good stuff, but also the bad stuff.
- Passion and a good product are the two key ingredients to a successful beauty brand.
- Transparency will get you everywhere: she put her training manual online and all other makeup brands copied it, but she didn’t mind.
- Limitations create style: it’s easy to throw money at a problem to fix it; when there is no money, limitations kick in the creative juices.
- Growth is expensive: the seemingly logical thought “sell more and you will make more money” doesn’t always hold; think of it as “it takes more money to sell more.”
- A partnership is a marriage, and then some. And a distribution partnership is harder than a marriage. As is the divorce from that relationship. (She has been through both, so she knows!).
- Don’t start a company if you don’t want to work hard. In the last 16 years, Jane Iredale admitted (at the risk of sounding obsessional) that there has not been a day during which she has not done something to move her business forward. Indeed, she admitted that such a day would be akin to “a day without sunshine.”
- The key to success in business is doing what you say you are going to do. Amen.
Back in DC after these two inspiring talks, I look at Alchimie Forever and my business plan anew, with fresh (although tired) eyes, with renewed passion, and with a more educated perspective. And off to work I go to implement what I learned. Coffee, please…