Hero Cosmetics’ Mighty Patch Is Fighting Pimples And Winning Over Retail Partners
The latest accessory that’s all the rage has nothing to do with jewelry, handbags or shoes. It’s acne stickers from Hero Cosmetics.
The rising brand’s Mighty Patch zit remedy entered Anthropologie in January, and is set to premiere at American Eagle and Riley Rose by July. With the product also selling on Amazon in the U.S. and U.K., and at German e-tailer Niche Beauty, Hero Cosmetics is on pace to break into the seven figures in sales this year.
“It feels like everyone and their mother is creating their own beauty brand. As the beauty space becomes crowded with cleansers and moisturizers, an acne patch stands out, and it’s a solution to a problem that works visually,” says Ju Rhyu, founder of Hero Cosmetics. “The U.S. consumer has never seen anything like this and, to retailers, it’s a totally new product category. Buyers have noticed a growing trend in acne patches and have really wanted to add something like this to their assortments.”
Rhyu, CEO of the firm Inside The Raum and former head of marketing for online K-beauty destination Peach & Lily, first spotted acne patches while she was living in Korea from 2012 to 2014. She was drawn to them because salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide spot treatments had been too drying for her sensitive skin. The patches are made from hydrocolloid originally intended for wounds that soaks up water and pus.
“People would wear around acne patches in broad daylight. I tried them, and they really worked. I asked myself, ‘Why aren’t these available in the U.S.?’ They’d do so well,” recounts Rhyu. “I noodled around and did research, but then put a pause on the project and joined Peach & Lily before starting my consultancy working with Korean clients that want to grow in the U.S. and Western clients that need a K-beauty perspective. I still felt the patches could do well here. So, I leveraged the marketing and distribution advice I was giving to clients for my own product and brand.”
“It feels like everyone and their mother is creating their own beauty brand. As the beauty space becomes crowded with cleansers and moisturizers, an acne patch stands out, and it’s a solution to a problem that works visually.”
Rhyu identified possible patch producers for Hero Cosmetics by scouring manufacturer listings on products in Korean stores. She notes beauty brands in Korea are required to disclose manufacturers on their products. Manufacturers, however, weren’t keen on taking a chance on Rhyu’s idea, and she received countless rejections and no responses from them. Finally, a manufacturer agreed to produce patches for Rhyu, and she honed in on getting the size, firmness and stickiness of them to her liking. She estimates it took less than $50,000 to develop Mighty Patch.
“I didn’t like the smaller ones. They were a waste of money because they were too small to be effective, and sometimes they didn’t stay on. In other ones, the adhesion wasn’t great and, if you had oily skin, they’d slip off,” says Rhyu. “I came up with what I think is the perfect acne patch. It’s 12 millimeters in size, and it adheres well so, if you’re someone with oily skin, it will stay on, and it has the right absorption power.”
Hero Cosmetics launched Mighty Patch in September of last year on Amazon, which is currently the brand’s largest revenue driver. Rhyu says the e-commerce giant provided a platform to test the product. Within a month of it being on Amazon, she knew Mighty Patch was a stellar performer. It’s priced at $12.99 for 36 patches on Amazon.
“I buy everything on Amazon, and I think a lot of people do. It might not be a channel for everybody, but, for our product and our brand, it made sense. Our goal is to make it accessible to everybody,” says Rhyu. “My philosophy is that, if you have a popular product, and you aren’t on Amazon, your product will end up on Amazon anyway. I prefer to be on the offensive rather than on the defensive.”
“My philosophy is that, if you have a popular product, and you aren’t on Amazon, your product will end up on Amazon anyway. I prefer to be on the offensive rather than on the defensive.”
Hero Cosmetics hasn’t fielded complaints from brick-and-mortar retailers about its Amazon presence. “I’ve been surprised by that,” says Rhyu. “But, when you have a pimple, you need something for it now and, in that case, nothing can replicate being in stores. That’s a reason I want to continue to grow our offline distribution. I want to make Mighty Patch available for emergencies.”
The popularity of Mighty Patch has led to supply hiccups. Rhyu acknowledges Hero Cosmetics has dealt with inventory shortages on occasion. With her Hero Cosmetics partners Dwight Lee and Andrew Lee, however, Rhyu is addressing the supply issue by building out technology to carefully monitor inventory. The brand attempts to consistently have a three-month supply of Mighty Patch on hand.
The inventory dilemmas haven’t impacted Rhyu’s ambitions for Hero Cosmetics. She’s interested in cracking a major beauty chain next year and, the year after, she’d consider creating a lower-price offering for mass retailers. A premium version of Mighty Patch is expected to be released in July.
“The name Hero Cosmetics came from the fact that, when you have skin trouble, our product is your hero. It’s a save-the-day type of product,” says Rhyu. “I really want all of our products to have that hero element. Whatever problem you have, Hero Cosmetics will offer a really strong solution to it.”