Eight Hot Takes From Indie Beauty Brand Founders And Retail Buyers Speaking At BeautyX Retail Summit

From CBD to inclusivity and DTC to temporary stores, retail buyers and beauty entrepreneurs speaking at the BeautyX Retail Summit on Monday in Dallas touched upon several significant forces shaping the contemporary beauty industry. They didn’t shy away from tough topics like product failures and the complicated road to retail success, but underscored the continued momentum pushing indie beauty forward at stores. Here, we narrow the wide-ranging discussions held during the first day of the two-day educational conference to eight key takeaways.

1. The End Of The Division Between Mass And Prestige Beauty Is Nigh

Brandy Hoffman, co-founder of Volition Beauty

“In the past, there was mass, and there was prestige. That’s going to be gone. They’re going to be blended. I think you can see it now. You see Ulta bringing in different price points. I think it’s because the barrier to entry in the market is so low. One good thing about digital is that you really get a view of how behavioral patterns are changing rapidly. There’s not necessarily brand loyalty. There’s product loyalty.”

2. Pop-Ups Can Be Counterproductive

Zahir Dossa, co-founder and CEO of Function of Beauty

“I generally do not like pop-ups. They’re very short-lived, so you have to really figure out what it is that you want to share with people in a physical format. Sometimes they do work, but more often than not they don’t because of the cost and time necessary to execute them. If I spent that time online, I could have shown [what I’m showing at a pop-up] to tens of millions of people, not just the thousands of people that are going to come through the store.”

BeautyX Retail Summit
At the BeautyX Retail Summit in Dallas, Brandy Hoffman, co-founder of Volition Beauty, spoke on a panel focused on executing a winning channel strategy.

3. Diverse Staffs Are Crucial

Trinity Mouzon Wofford, co-founder and CEO of Golde

“You have to make sure you have diversity on your team. It’s really impossible, even for me as someone who identifies as a black woman, to make sure I’m checking boxes for every other person. The greatest challenge lies when you have a large team that’s very homogenous that’s trying to speak to different types of people.”

4. DTC Isn’t What It Used To Be

Mouzon Wofford of Golde

“We had a really great moment around the sexiness of DTC where you were cutting out the middleman, but today there are so many costs associated with it that the middleman is becoming Facebook or Google. We are happy to have a high amount of our revenue coming from our retail partners: 80% of our revenue stream comes in from our retail partners.”

BeautyX Retail Summit
Mouzon Wofford, co-founder of Golde, told the crowd of more than 100 beauty industry insiders at BeautyX Retail Summit that these days her preferred partners are retailers, not Google or Facebook.

5. Sustainability Helps Sales

Kendra Kolb Butler, founder of Alpyn Beauty

“The consumer is becoming more and more educated, and she wants the companies [she buys from] to be responsible about the environment and social issues. Formula is the gold standard, of course, but environmentally-friendly practices, sustainability, keeping up with technology and really listening closely to her [the consumer] are important.”

6. The Onus Is On Founders To Propel Their Brands’ Revenues At Retail

Kim D’Angelo, cosmetics buyer at Neiman Marcus  

“As a brand founder, you have to drive the brand, not us. Romance it, win over our sales associates. Sampling is a must, and be active on social media. In-store founder appearances are always great. Work with the beauty sales associates on the floor.” She continues, “You have to have samples, otherwise you can´t [drive] business with us. If you are an unknown brand, there is no other way to get the message out there. We have different promotions and events where we give out 5000 samples. Our PR department is extremely supportive, so they are constantly asking for products they can share with the media. We are very supportive, but it is your responsibility to drive the brand.”

BeautyX Retail Summit
Golde CEO and co-founder Trinity Mouzon Wofford emphasized the importance of brands having diverse teams to create products and campaigns that resonate with varied audiences.

7. Being A Clean Brand Isn’t Enough

Muffy Clince, director of emerging brands at Ulta Beauty

“Nowadays, you have to have multiple attributes. You have to have the killer story. You have to be unbelievably authentic. You can´t just be a person trying to create a brand to fill a white space. We have new brands that are doing really well, and it is because they have an authentic story, different packaging and innovative formulas that have never been done before.”

8. Don’t Hide Your Distribution Strategy From Retail Partners

Clince of Ulta Beauty

“Be very open about your distribution strategy. As we invest in our business together, we want to make sure we are aware of anything you are looking at. We may encourage some [retailers] and may have hesitation with others, but we would love to work through it with you. There could be other opportunities on your or our side. Be clear what your brand positioning is.”