Quip, Oral-B And Boka Sell Replaceable Toothbrush Heads. Now, Beautiac Is Bringing The Refill Concept To Makeup Brushes.
After a particularly bad bout of breakouts three years ago, a friend told Drea Gunness-Groeschel that her dirty makeup brushes could be to blame. Like most friends, Gunness-Groeschel’s was right, and she pledged to wash the brushes regularly to keep them from getting grubby.
The best-laid plans of makeup users often go awry, though. Then CEO of a candle and home décor company, Gunness-Groeschel was frequently on the road and couldn’t maintain the brush-cleaning routine. Dermatologists recommend washing makeup brushes every 10 days, she says, but Gunness-Groeschel wasn’t doing so nearly enough.
“There’s no way! I’m traveling all over the world and, when I’m on the go, I’m not going to clean my brushes, never mind that, but the cleaners you can buy, I don’t want to lug them around,” she says. “I was like, ‘There’s got to be a better way.’” Pondering a possible better way, she mused, “If it was just like a razor blade, and I could pop on a new head, that would make my life so much easier, and that [was] really the aha moment.”
After studying the market and asking the opinions of women she ran across, including strangers at restaurants and stores, Gunness-Groeschel concluded there was a genuine void for an interchangeable alternative to standard cosmetics brushes. So, she quit her day job and got to work.
Gunness-Groeschel’s previous supply-chain management experience and roughly $1 million in seed funding expedited the development timeline. Once she began to turn her idea for replaceable makeup brush heads into merchandise, it took nine months to create Beautiac, Gunness-Groeschel’s new brand. The nine-month process, however, wasn’t perfectly smooth. There were plenty of hurdles.
“If it was just like a razor blade, and I could pop on a new head, that would make my life so much easier.”
“To be honest with you, I underestimated what reinventing a makeup brush would be like,” says Gunness-Groeschel. The biggest challenge was pinning down a universal handle that would adapt to several brush heads, a dexterity that makeup brushes never had before. Gunness-Groeschel says, “I had literally a team of five guys on it that were struggling. Eventually, they threw up their hands.”
A second team, which boasted 50 years of experience engineering beauty consumer goods, couldn’t execute it either. “I was very discouraged,” admits Gunness-Groeschel, who thought, “Maybe that’s why it hasn’t be done. Maybe it’s just too difficult, but you just keep barreling forward if you have the vision and you have the gut for it. Following the first two teams’ failed attempts, she connected with a plastics engineering team in Ohio. Fortunately, the third team was the charm. Its members understood her vision.
The next challenge was identifying the right brush manufacturer. To do so, Gunness-Groeschel headed to China. Unimpressed by conditions in many of the beauty product manufacturing facilities she toured, Gunness-Groeschel decided to take her search out of the beauty market completely. She landed on a Chinese factory that services Tesla and Quip. Part of the reason finding the right manufacturer proved to be difficult was due to the way Gunness-Groeschel sought for the brushes to be made.
“We wanted to make the hairs of the brush out of the same material that we make the ferrules, which is the cuff that the hairs sit in,” explains Gunness-Groeschel. “This creates a single material item that is 100% recyclable.”
“We wanted to make the hairs of the brush out of the same material that we make the ferrules, which is the cuff that the hairs sit in. This creates a single material item that is 100% recyclable.”
Beautiac has teamed up with recycling specialist TerraCycle on its zero-waste box program. A recycling bag comes with the brand’s starter kits that can be sent back to it with products that it makes sure are recycled by TerraCycle. Components can also be tossed into the recycling bin with routine household recyclables.
“A lot of beauty companies are using TerraCycle because literally they 100% guarantee that, if it is sent back, they will recycle it,” says Gunness-Groeschel. “For our particular product, they’re able to chip them [the old brush heads] down, and they re-melt them into planters, picnic tables, park benches [and] community beautification project items. So, dirty brush heads are getting a full circle.”
Beautiac’s brush sets are sold online via subscriptions priced from $16.50 to $20 per month. Its VIP Kit includes three brush refill heads (one for foundation, one for powder and one for blush), one Blur Sponge, three Universal Handles, one Smart Stand to hold the brushes and one Safe Bag. Beautiac plans to introduce a customized system soon allowing customers to alter delivery dates based on their shipment scheduling preferences. By Jan. 1, customers will also be able to choose the exact brush heads they want replaced. The brush heads currently come as a full set.
Gunness-Groeschel projects Beautiac’s sales will cross the six-figure mark by the end of the year. For 2020, the brand’s goal is to explore retail and draw 15,000 direct consumers. That’s a lot of Beautiacs. On the topic of the brand name, Gunness-Groeschel’s husband came up with it. “He thinks us ladies are a bit nuts when it comes to our beauty routines and that we are maniacs about our beauty products,” she says. “Then, to be funny, he said, ‘You all are Beautiacs.’ We both looked at each other, and I was like, ‘On my God, that’s an awesome brand name!’”