How Beauty Brand Founders And Executives Are Handling The Omicron Variant

Almost two years into the pandemic and it’s starting to feel like March 2020 all over again as the Omicron variant overtakes Delta and cases spread across the country and world. We wondered how beaty brand founders and executives were handling the new coronavirus wave.

So, for this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions relevant to indie beauty, we asked 51 of them: How do you think the Omicron variant will affect your business, and have you made any operational changes?

Britta Chatterjee Co-Founder, Odele

Omicron, Delta, any variant has continued to impact our business. We have cancelled a team offsite more than once and continue to move from in-person meetings to virtual often last minute due to an exposure or positive case.

It’s hard for our team. While virtual can accomplish a lot of things, there still isn’t a substitute for being together in person. We have to be that much more thoughtful about how we manage morale, build relationships and keep spirits up in addition to accomplishing our day-to-day work.

Shrankhla Holecek Founder and CEO, Uma Oils

We've had to institute operational changes to vary up filling shifts in order to minimize contact between team members who are fully vaccinated, which is always inefficient and slows things down, but we must play it safe given the number of breakthrough infections we are hearing about.

Further, we are already also seeing a delay in package movement and delivery, leading to more customer grievances around the arrival of packages, and we've definitely had to resend/expedite packages or offer additional complimentary gift cards to make right in situations where carriers are not meeting committed deadlines.

Rooshy Roy Co-Founder and CEO, Aavrani

One of our biggest learnings over the last year is to always be ready to adapt. We strive to support our team in a way that empowers them to work safely and effectively. I find the best way to support our team during these uncertain times is by empowering them to work safely yet giving them the resources they need to also work effectively.

Our key to continued growth through constant uncertainty is believing in our people. When change is the only constant, our hiring process is of even greater importance. We look for passionate, professional and dedicated individuals who can grow and adapt with us.

Sébastien Tardif Co-Founder, Veil Cosmetics

The latest variant will certainly impact the makeup business in the sense that women may have to work from home again, may be attending less social events, which, in turn, means wearing less makeup or slower turnover of existing makeup.

In terms of our operations, we have been vigilant and have exercised a lot of caution since the very beginning, so our productions are running smoothly. There has been no shortage of ingredients or packaging at this point.

Ju Rhyu Co-Founder and CEO, Hero Cosmetics

We have already postponed our holiday party, which was supposed to be December 16th. We were expecting about 100 people, including the Hero team and their plus-ones as well as vendors and partners. With the Omicron variant rapidly changing the health environment and with the holidays on the other side, we decided it was for the best to postpone.

It was a hard decision at the time, but, in retrospect, the right one as we had two folks in our Hero ecosystem test positive right after when the holiday party was supposed to be. We may also close our office in January depending on how bad things get and CDC guidance.

We all know the ropes now, so there is nothing surprising. We will just do our best to deal with the current health guidances. Our team is very flexible and adaptable.

Regis Haberkorn Co-Founder and President, Priori Skincare

In the event Omicron becomes a factor, we leave all options open as far as where customers can experience Priori products. So, we can decide to focus on one channel if we experience lock downs in 2022. Our products are currently available through DTC, the professional skincare market and specialty retail.

For now, most of our trade shows are placeholders. We allocated some budgets, but have not booked them yet. We continue to travel as usual, but will be ready to pivot to remote meetings for events and education if needed. We have also shot a lot of educational video content that will be available soon.

As for procurement, we’ve already established a safety stock as far as long lead inventory so that, if production and shipping issues worsen, we can tap into our inventory and make more finished products.

Janel Luu Founder, Le Mieux

In the skincare realm, the Omicron variant will impact aestheticians who sell our products to clients because these customers might cut back on visits to spas for facial treatments. Instead, these consumers will tend to buy skincare products online for DIY facial treatments at home.

In the operational realm, the pandemic has caused delays in the supply chain, notably in the ports, where there are strict checks of the cargo and crew on ships to prevent COVID cases from coming into the country. This impacts our business because we manufacture our products on-site. For example, when thousands of bottles and jars are stuck on container ships, our filling schedule is delayed, and a new product launch would be postponed.

There are still many unknowns about the virus, but one thing is certain—there will be more variants in the future, and we all will need to learn how to adjust to and bounce back from setbacks and delays.

Ellen Marmur Founder and Dermatologist, MMSkincare

Very sadly this variant is already causing palpable changes here at MMSkincare. Our team is double masking, even when boosted. We are not seeing unvaccinated patients for elective treatments unless we can ensure safety (if they are seen after hours in well-ventilated space with their masks on), we spaced out appointments and have our air filters on maximum.

We screen all patients and take their temperatures. We do not allow patients to eat or drink on the premises to ensure they keep their masks over their mouth and nose. I think people are emotionally exhausted, and the panic is simmering close to the surface.

Anne Nguyen Olivier Founder, House of M Beauty

As a founder, I have noticed the effect of the new variant based on the absence of staff everywhere. That paired with the continuation of supply chain issues, products and ingredients will just take much longer to produce, from manufacturing to shipping and receiving.

For the past 20-plus months, we have been forecasting and submitting component and product orders further out than we had traditionally. It affects our cash flow directly, but we are working hard and thoroughly to balance the effects as much as possible.

Frederic Fekkai Founder, Fekkai and Fekkai Salons

At our Fekkai salons, we are seeing hair and makeup cancellations from clients either due to holiday events being cancelled or because they or someone in their immediate family were exposed to a COVID-positive individual. Very few of our clients have cancelled because they are nervous about being in our salons as we have always had elevated air filtration and ventilation systems that continuously draw in fresh air from the outside. I did this years ago so that our clients would not be surrounded by the scent of hair dyes, keratin treatments or styling products—turns out this is an important preventative strategy recognized by the CDC.

As a preventative measure at our corporate office, we did make the decision at the beginning of December to cancel the holiday celebration as well as gave all corporate employees the option to work from home the week prior to the holidays to minimize exposure risk on all fronts. When we return to work in January, we will require all employees to provide negative COVID results prior to coming back into the corporate office.

Kenny Leung Co-Founder, Rèphr

As Omicron triggers infections in record numbers, we expect to see disruptions in global supply chain and logistics networks that will impact businesses and consumers alike. Production lead times will be longer, ocean freight prices will likely remain high, warehouse output will be limited and last-mile deliveries will be slower than usual.

The good news is we’ve all had close to two years of experience in how to manage a similar situation. On the company side, going fully remote makes sense and allows us to reduce the likelihood of workplace infections and maintain up-time. On the customer side, it’s important to be transparent and upfront about delays. In our experience, we find that customers are incredibly sympathetic as long as they’ve been kept in the loop.

Tisha Thompson Founder,  LYS Beauty

The Omicron variant has not had any noticeable impacts on our operations at this time. Thankfully, my team was able to gather for a small, intimate holiday dinner as we are all vaccinated and boosted. This, along with other precautions, allows us to continue shipping orders, creating content and operating smoothly as a small team.

Christian Karavolas Founder, Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal

We feel that the Omicron variant will affect businesses as clients are a little scared about interacting with people, but it has not affected our business as of yet. We have been quite busy and take all the necessary precautions, and our entire staff is vaccinated. However, we wanted all our technicians to be re-tested to make sure that we eliminate any possibility of possible infection of our staff as well as our customers.

We decided to push our holiday break to begin on December 21 and are reopening on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021. There has not been any known exposure to our technicians or our customers. This was a precautionary move for the safety of our fully vaccinated staff as well as our clients.

Cindy Barshop Founder, Vspot Sexual Health Spa

The Omicron variant evidently is spreading fast and is continuing to affect businesses as of last week. Vspot had to close for three days and cancel appointments as one of our employees was exposed to the virus. We now have backup schedules for staff, medical assistants on call, daily employee testing and limiting the number of clients in the spa at one time.

In addition, we have been prepared for the psychological effects that it imposes on the staff and clients and are doing weekly meetings for mental health wellness checks.

Janine Mahon Founder, Dr. Janine Mahon

As the Omicron variant is sweeping through our communities, we are making quick adjustments within the clinic, supporting patients with herbal formulas. We are still planning on in-person press events in late January, but keeping them very small with extra precautions taken.

Navigating shipping delays and supplies have been even more unpredictable than they were a year ago. Launching new products and keeping up with increasing demand has been and continues to be challenging.

Anisha Khanna Co-Founder and CEO, Sonäge Skincare

As an eternal optimist, my rosy view is that our DTC clients are cancelling their Christmas travel plans and will reward themselves by recreating the Sonäge spa experience at home. We are a nimble organization that adapts quickly to the changing environment.

We are planning a small group event in our spa in February. Our space was recently built with maximum ventilation and HEPA air filtration. We are hoping for the best, but are also watching case counts and county guidelines to determine what is safe for our employees and guests.

Stacy Blackman CEO, Stryke Club

Our operations pipeline has been consistently and significantly impacted by COVID since mid-2020. We have now over-invested to mitigate inventory shortages. It is certain that Omicron will not help, but we hope that we are prepared.

We also know that campuses and events are shutting down. There may be a greater surge in online shopping, so we are thrilled to be expanding our online presence to Urban Outfitters, Walmart and Amazon in 2022.

Bayly Ledes President and CEO, Fashion Fragrances & Cosmetics Co.

We already had to change so much when COVID started that we are used to a super stealth operating paradigm. The only thing that would really be dramatic is if physical deliveries stop happening and our warehouse closes down. Even so, we have taken the pandemic as a lesson to be on top of inventory and anticipate sluggish supply chains. We fulfill everything ourselves and have backed up our component ordering to reflect major delays. All said, even if things grind to a halt, we should be OK—at least for a while!

Reuben Driggers VP of Business Development, Bellasonic Beauty

Generally, COVID has affected our business significantly in terms of delays caused by disruptions in the supply chain. We have missed out on sales opportunities several times because we just didn’t have inventory. There has been a silver lining to the COVID cloud because we saw increased interest in our nail file because salons closed early on and, even after they reopened, there was some hesitancy to go back into salons.

Although we never could have anticipated this major COVID resurgence because of the Omicron variant, fortunately, we did increase the amount of inventory we are holding. We are already hearing from suppliers in China that they are shutting down temporarily because of the new COVID flare-ups. This will definitely delay the launch date of new products on order, but we know the inventory we have on hand of existing products will carry us through deep into 2022.

Yvonne Perez Emerson Founder, Make & Mary

I own a shop in Portland, Oregon. Our state has always been pretty strict with masking indoors during the last two years, and we have been happy to comply. We will continue to wear masks inside and ask folks to be vaxxed and masked for our indoor private events. Our staff is fully vaxxed with the booster, too, and we limit the number of customers in at a time.

We are going to keep doing what we’ve been doing. Maybe we’ll make more luxury hand sanitizer. However, we are also looking to expand our offerings online in the new year and, if we can’t meet in person, we might do a few online events. But our hope is that we can continue smaller events until warmer weather rolls around.

Aleena Khan Co-Founder, CTZN Cosmetics

Global activations and press meetings ahead of our anticipated new product launch in February is currently what we feel we may need to pivot our strategy on due to the unpredictability of travel with the new variant. We have started to weigh out which of our press meetings and initiatives can be conducted via Zoom. Our team is deep in creative brainstorms for effective ways to announce a new launch virtually, while still making an impact and powerful impression.

Janelle Hailey VP of Marketing and Innovation, Olika

While we are concerned about the rise of Omicron, we've remained committed to ensuring our clean, sustainable and safe sanitizers are at the ready when our consumers need them so they have one less stress. All of the operational changes we've made this past year continue to strengthen our ability to consistently deliver healthy hygiene for all.

David Perez CEO, Daily Dose

COVID-19 has become predictable in the way it impacts Daily Dose sales. During COVID case spikes, we see a significant increase in e-commerce sales coupled with a decrease in retail sales. With Omicron, we should see this pattern repeat itself as we experience a spike in cases in January/February 2022.

Andrea Lisbona CEO, Touchland

Our company develops essential goods. So, with the Omicron variant arising, we have to ensure we've built all contingency plans from a production standpoint to guarantee product availability for our customers.

In regards to our day to day, we are limiting all of our in-person meetings in our offices and moving them to conference calls to ensure everyone's safety.

Diipa Büller-Khosla Founder, Indē Wild

With the unpredictability of the new virus variant, one of our main concerns is shipping delays. With this challenge, we are trying to internalize customer care through the consumer's order journey, ensuring radical transparency, which is a key brand pillar, throughout the process.

We are also rethinking our strategies around community engagement and building as in-person and physical events are currently on pause.

Christina Kao Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Le Mini Macaron

At the moment, we are monitoring Omicron developments day by day. Our office and team are based in Barcelona and, during the past year, we have been mostly WFO (work from office) as much as possible. This has allowed for rich collaboration and culture building for our team during this hyper-growth stage. This was made possible due to vaccinations and safety measures. However, Omicron could change things drastically.

We have been wanting to increase our brand presence at in-person events in 2022 as we know our consumers are craving experiential marketing again after two years of COVID. Our team has an influencer event planned in January along with planned attendance at the Asos Beauty Awards in London and Cosmoprof Bologna during Q1 to grow both consumer and industry relationships. We’re essentially on standby to see if we can greenlight these activities over the next several weeks.

Wendy Jules and Carla Nelson Founders, Fleur De Lis Beauty & Esthetics

As clinicians, we are committed to ensuring extra safety measures for our clients and staff as Omicron cases have began to spike again. As far as operational changes, we’re still requiring temperature checks, hand hygiene and wearing a mask when you are not receiving a service. Our waiting area is disinfected often throughout the course of the day and after each client, with all rooms being disinfected and steamed. We keep records of all our clients, in the event that there is exposure, we can contact everyone and inform them to get tested.

We as staff get tested weekly, and staff is encouraged to stay home if they are not feeling well. Additionally, we are confirming appointments 24 hours prior to an appointment in the event we are alerted of a potential exposure.

We have increased our inventory for IV hydration services to assist our clients boost their immune system, particularly the Tri-Immune Booster and Fleur De Lis Immunity IV. Lastly, we’re also requesting our clients offer us the same courtesy of not coming in when they’re sick or have any cold or COVID symptoms.

Kayleigh Christina Co-Founder, CLEARSTEM Skincare

As new variants have come out, we have seen delays in lead time due to understaffed manufacturers, warehouses and cargo ships. Since lead times can vary so much, we have been placing larger inventory orders with our lab and manufacturer.

We have also made a shift to focus on what we can control which is communication and value to our community. With uncertainty, it is extra important we are continually updating our community with what we are experiencing and hosting more online masterclasses, IG lives and opportunities to educate about skincare and wellness that is not product-driven.

Connie Lo Co-Founder, Three Ships

The new variant has further highlighted the importance of working on longer lead times on our backend. What once used to take three months to produce now takes six months or more. Because of the new Omicron variant, we've increased our inventory buys to cover us for all of 2022. Luckily, we had the foresight this year to apply for a larger line of credit to fund our operating costs, which definitely came in handy.

We have also extended out our product launch dates for 2022, providing two-month windows for buyers as opposed to the typical launch date. This gives us flexibility depending on how Omicron will impact our manufacturers' capacity and throughput as we foresee our manufacturers potentially being short-staffed.

Another change is to our travel plans for next year. Originally, I had budgeted time for buyer meetings in the U.S., but have since pivoted Q1 meetings to virtual. Finally, while we had a few months this year of working as a team from our Toronto office, unfortunately, we have had to reinstate a work-from-home policy as of last week. Ensuring the safety of our team is of the utmost priority, and we look forward to having all of this behind us in the near future.

Dr. Anne Beal Founder, AbsoluteJOI

I have a very specific view on this, not just as a brand owner, but as a physician trained in public health. The early reports from New York showed that this virus was spreading faster than other variants, and in the early days, there was not a lot of good information on the level of protection against Omicron from our current vaccines or whether the variant was as severe as other COVID variants.

Since there was so much uncertainty, I decided we would limit travel and potential exposure until we knew more. This meant canceling trips to New York and Europe that were planned for December. The good news is we are already set up for virtual meetings, so the business did not lose any momentum.

One lesson I’ve learned from this pandemic is we need to be flexible and ready to adjust our plans. I don’t mind changing plans, but I do mind having a lot of uncertainty and waiting too long to make a decision. I think it’s better to make a decision—like not going on a trip—than spending energy to work on that decision rather than wasting time going back and forth. I think things will settle down in the next 30 to 60 days, and we will know better what adjustments—if any—will need to be made as a result of this new variant.

Ada Polla CEO, Alchimie Forever

We are closely following the new developments of Omicron, including the return of the mask mandate in Washington, D.C., as of Dec. 21. We never returned to events and travel remains limited, so we have not been faced with the need to make immediate operational changes.

We are, however, preparing psychologically rather than operationally for the potential of a challenging couple of months ahead, whether limited lockdowns or a decrease in demand in some of our channels, more specifically the spa channel.

Deida Massey Founder, Bixa Beauty

I don’t think the Omicron variant will affect the beauty business or even mine. At the height of the pandemic, beauty sales were up. More Zoom meetings were happening, and women wanted to still feel and look beautiful.

There have been no operational changes within Bixa. Because our products are made to order, we have always taken the necessary health and safety precautions to ensure an optimal product.

Kerrigan Behrens Co-Founder, Sagely Naturals

At Sagely Naturals, we haven't changed any processes at the warehouse, but we are continuing to see delays in domestic trucking. While we hoped this would get better in 2022, our assumption is that Omicron will cause trucking delays for the foreseeable future. We are planning ahead for purchasing as much as possible and engaging expedited trucking service where needed.

Irina Gottesman Co-Founder, House of Grō

Omicron has sent us back in retreat for the time being. This, of course, will influence commerce and the global marketplace.

Our business is beauty and wellness. That consumer is now seeking immune boosting ingredients, prevention, recovery and overall wellbeing benefits in almost anything she buys. Our pursuit of wellness now dominates most shopping decisions, and in this regard, House of Grō is well-positioned.

From a manufacturing supply chain position, we are preparing ourselves for longer delivery lead times. We are having honest conversations about production deadlines with our retailers. Our in-person appointment with a buyer for this coming Thursday was just switched to a Zoom, so we are definitely feeling a resurgence and a wave of caution from our community.

Vance Soto President and Owner, Ole Henriksen Spa

The Omicron scenario is an interesting one and also a little different than before. I believe that guests are exhausted and tired and, therefore, still seeking relaxation, pampering and self-care. We are seeing record-breaking interest in our services including in-spa and at-home services. In addition, our online searches, website visits and social metrics are still extremely high, which tells us that guests are still seeking spa treatments even with the unknown of Omicron.

With widespread vaccination, required vaccinations of all staff, strict mask enforcement and strict safety guidelines, I believe guests have learned that we are a safe alternative during these times. If you look at the higher risk activities per health officials, most spa services are not listed as high risk. In West Hollywood, anyone coming into our spa both staff and guests do have to be fully vaccinated, which does help put clients at ease. In addition, our team is highly boostered as soon as we became eligible. Masks can only be removed for services that require them (ex: facials). We have, however, started spacing clients further apart again for precaution and their comfort level.

I could potentially see operations changing in an environment or spa that is more indoor- and amenity-driven like large-style communal jacuzzis, hammams, steam rooms, saunas, etc., simply where a guest might want to remove their mask or you’re mixing with guests for a prolonged period of time that you do not know. Many of our guests come to us for our sublime services versus large-style amenities.

I believe, even in the face of Omicron, that you can still provide spa services and/or events that are properly spaced out, vaccinations, rapid testing on-site and proper distancing. In previous waves of the pandemic, volume did slow down because guests were afraid and widespread vaccination wasn’t available. That hasn’t been the case for us with Omicron or Delta.

We have seen a large uptick as well in services that do not require a service provider, so we continue to expand our offering with more treatments that are you alone in your treatment space or limited time with a service provider. To state whether or not spas will be required to heavily pivot their model or enforce former guidelines of capacity limitations or distancing is too early to say. We simply do not know enough (as of today) about the Omicron variant.

Our model at Ole Henriksen Spa is to always operate from a place of safety and to follow the guidelines that have proved for us to be a safe relaxation haven this entire time. We know that, by strictly following the safety guidelines and vaccination requirements, we are able to continually operate safely. Obviously, as we learn more, our operations will adjust accordingly, but, for now, we are following what has been tried and true.

Brianna Arps Founder, Moodeaux

The new Omicron variant coupled with the regular cold/flu season has challenged us to revisit how we’ll “show up” both online and offline in early 2022. Because safety is of the utmost importance, so far, operational adjustments will involve communicating new shipping policies in addition to pausing plans for a multi-city pop-up tour.

Rather than mailing out orders upwards of five to six days a week, we’re considering temporarily cutting back to three to four days to minimize direct contact with our parcel carriers. Likewise, rather than focusing on creating in-person experiences at this time, we’re optimistically exploring live shopping and more traditional avenues like direct mail advertising to maintain traction.

Rachel James Founder and CEO, Pear Nova

As an e-commerce business, with the nail studio opening seven years after Pear Nova launched, I don’t foresee too much change. We will continue to cater to our customers who were figuring out how to do their own nails. We released classic lacquer and gel lacquer essentials kits plus we include how to’s for the perfect manicure with every order to make sure our supporters have what they need to receive salon results at home.

Evelyn Subramaniam Founder, Bija Essence

Safety and pivot are two words we have learned from COVID-19 and all their variants. Bija Essence has certainly made some operational changes due to Omicron. For example, for everyone’s safety, we have postponed indoor in-person events until March or until Omicron subsides.

In order to increase sales and growth for Q1, we have invested in marketing with a new firm. And, finally, we are trying new alternative ways to stay connected with our loyal and new customers. One thing we learned from 2020’s quarantine is that people want to stay connected to their communities. Bija Essence is here to do that and wishing everyone a healthy and safe 2022 winter.

Lindsey Martin Founder, Kiramoon

Production timelines are already so long, but with more people testing positive and unable to work, it will become more and more difficult to source product components overseas. This is especially difficult for smaller brands whose supplier options are limited due to MOQs. As a brand, we are having to make tough decisions such as over-ordering or ordering components way ahead of time when that capital would otherwise be used in a different area of the business

With cases rising and people having to take time off work, we can only assume that we will see a drop in sales as a result of a drop in consumer income. We may have to offer more frequent discounts or special offers to maintain sales online.

On the bright side, with more people staying at home, we may see another uptick in skincare sales as the at-home self-care trend continues. We can leverage this in our marketing and product development to cater to the needs of the current COVID climate.

Ann Frossard Chief People Officer, SkinSpirit

As a medical facility, we maintain the highest safety standards, including use of medical grade PPE, air filtration systems and disinfecting protocols. But, with the emergence of the Omicron variant, we are taking additional precautions to prevent spread. We have postponed our company-wide holiday employee events and have restricted corporate travel. We have also placed restrictions on use of common spaces in our clinics and are closely screening and monitoring employees and clients for symptoms and potential close contact exposure.

Julia McClure Co-Founder, Navinka Skincare

At this point, we will not be changing much. We launched Navinka just a couple of months before the pandemic started in 2020. So, from the moment we began to sprout as a company, we had to weave this situation into our foundation.

We had to minimize staff and streamline production, while also navigating through all creative and marketing challenges via Zoom meetings. All launches and sales and photo shoots have been done remotely. This is a new way of doing business for many companies, but for us, it is the only way we know how to function.

Krystal Vaquerano Co-Founder, Sheabrand

Fortunately, we have established a work-from-home environment to protect us from unnecessary exposure to Omicron. Given it's the holiday season, we are thankfully not doing many events. We have also planned ahead of time in terms of production of our products in case there is exposure at our manufacturers.

Ultimately, we hope everyone is valuing the importance of everyone's health over the production of products because that is the most important thing.

Paula Floyd
Founder, Headkount

It will impact the business if it ramps up to be where COVID was a year ago with higher restrictions. We paused with our clients last year when it was originally at its worst and everything shut down.

We will do the same thing if that happens again, but, for now, we are moving forward with a few key updates: Mandating all of our employees be vaccinated for the safety of the consumer and themselves, continuing to practice safety following retailer guidelines and the bottom line, now more than ever, is that every single physical in-store visit matters because you just don't know what's ahead of you. We are more intentional than ever before when we go into a store because we have to make the most of the visits.

Brittany Lo Founder, Beia and Beautini

The positive is that we have had other variants prior to this one to learn how to adapt during this pandemic as much as we can. This variant is forcing us to think differently on how we launch our new products in a safe environment, whether we hone on a virtual launch event or allocate budget to creating a more meaningful gifting experience to our editors and influencers.

The biggest takeaway has been that there is no sense to plan too far ahead right in this ever-changing environment, and to be as flexible and adaptable in order to still achieve the main objectives.

From a backend perspective, our team has learned to collaborate without being in person and to dedicate time learning how to best utilize email marketing, social media and e-commerce rather than in-person events and networking to build our brand awareness.

Dani Kimiko Vincent Founder, Kimiko

We may see a temporary slowdown in wholesale business to brick-and-mortar in early Q1, but we think this will ease as conditions hopefully improve, and we are still expecting our DTC channels to continue on their trajectory. We’re also starting to explore livestream selling to continue reaching and connecting with new consumers. We are taking a wait-and-see approach for our early year live events to ensure they can be held safely.

Amy Chou Granger Founder, M2Ü NYC

Our brand launched in March 2020 just before COVID hit the U.S. So, in the last 20 months, we have continued adjusting our business to fit into this new world. For example, we had to postpone our campus ambassador program after college campuses shut down and moved to online classes.

Now, with Omicron, instead of just relaunching the same ambassador program, we scratched the original plan and pivoted it to a digital ambassador platform so we can still engage and communicate with hundreds of our ambassadors closely to discuss future launches and all things beauty in a more systematic way.

Other critical operational changes we have made since COVID is how we reach out to retailers. Instead of trade shows, which were all canceled during COVID, we started to use online platforms to connect us to potential retailers. With Omicron, we will continue to use these alternative channels instead of the IRL meetings.

David Gaylord

CEO, Bushbalm

The Omicron variant is leaving our business in a lot of uncertainty. Similar to the start of COVID-19, we are unsure what will happen when it comes to consumer demand. Will e-commerce see another boom? Will advertising costs go down

These are all the questions we are facing on top of canceling conferences, sales visits and closing our newly opened office. To give us the most flexibility, we’ve moved forward with large purchase orders on our most popular items above our usual orders and contacted our 3PL to understand what processes we need to put in place to ensure our shipments can continue.

Luckily, during the rise of COVID-19, we only saw one of our manufacturers shut down for an extended period of time, but, since then, we’ve diversified our options for manufacturing, just in case.

Niye Aniekan-Attang Founder, Ace Beauté

If the Omicron virus spreads as fast as it is being predicted, I foresee more supply chain issues, higher container costs, even more backlogged ports, which will then ultimately lead to a scarcity of supplies. Unfortunately, there isn't much we can do to control these issues.

Bianca Edwards Founder, Beauty Done Right

It hasn’t affected our business yet, but I am uncertain about the coming months. For example, the NYC IECSC show cost me about $10,000 to exhibit at. When COVID first struck, every exhibitor was already in NYC, booths were set up and the show was to start the next morning. At 6 p.m., they canceled the show and told everyone that they had to be out of the Javits Center by 10 p.m.—no refunds, no nothing—just a promise that you’ll have your booth next year when the show returns. It’s been two years with no show, and March is slated to be the first one in three years. So, I’m nervous about that because I can’t afford a hit like that.

Melissa Baker Director of Education, Merle Norman Cosmetics

At Merle Norman Cosmetics, we have a legacy of high standards and practices for studio cleanliness and product demonstrations. It’s an essential part of our studio and beauty consultant education curriculum. At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, I immediately understood it would be important for our franchisees to clearly communicate hygiene practices to their customers. And I knew it could be a point of difference for the customer, whenever shopping "returned to normal."

I quickly found a partner in Sanitation Conversation, a third party that specializes in health-grade sanitation protocols specific to makeup application. The online courses are based on science, not a specific sanitation product, easy to access and affordable. We were their first beauty brand to partner and provide our franchisees with the opportunity and resources to up-level and certify their staff, creating a point of difference in their local market. Almost two years later, surprisingly, there isn’t another cosmetics brand or retailer, that I know of, that has certified their staff at this level.

Jordan Lim Co-Founder, Beaubble

The Omicron variant will further accentuate the need to displace legacy business models and channels while placing heavier emphasis on fine-tuning the digital, direct-to-consumer experience. At Beaubble, from the start, our focus has always been on delivering such experience with innovative techniques and approaches, so we don’t expect to make any drastic operational changes in response to the Omicron variant. However, because we are aware of the importance of IRL, direct interactions in creating a holistic brand experience, we did plan to open pop-up stores in LA and NY, but with the new COVID surge due to the Omicron variant, it seems like we will be postponing indefinitely for now.

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