Ipsy Alums’ New Text Commerce Platform 213Deli Is Aimed At Gen X Beauty Shoppers

213Deli wants gen X to shop for beauty at the tap of a text.

Launched in July, the SMS commerce platform texts weekly product drops to customers who place orders by responding with the number of products they’re interested in. So far, U Beauty, Osea, Kosas, Mutha, Bioeffect, Kjaer Weis, NatureLab Tokyo, Volition Beauty and Retrouve are among the brands that have jumped on the concept.

“Early indicators say that our hypothesis that people, particularly gen X women, are looking for a new way to discover and purchase beauty products is accurate. Gen X women spend the most on personal care,” says Corey Weiss, co-founder of 213Deli. “They have the most buying power, but marketers aren’t marketing to them, which is crazy.”

Nicole Collins, another 213Deli co-founder, says, “If you are busy with all of the things in life and somebody reminds you, ‘Hey, by the way, you need this eye cream or you need this mascara or whatever,’ and you quite literally just have to text back, it’s a total no brainer. The ease of it all is a slam dunk for me.”

Jules Camposano, former creative director at Nutrafol and The Honest Co., joins Collins and Weiss on 213Deli’s founding team. The co-founders met at beauty subscription service Ipsy, where they previously worked. 

“We grew the business to a billion-dollar business,” says Weiss, formerly VP of business development and marketing partnerships at Ipsy. “Nobody was used to subscriptions then, and we helped educate and really be on the bleeding edge of a category. So, for me, it’s all about disruption and innovation and really changing with the times.” 

Intrigued by mobile shopping experiences in China, Weiss and Collins were inspired to develop 213Deli after serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk introduced his SMS commerce company, WineText, in 2020. Weiss says, “He’s not going to jump into something if he doesn’t think that it’s the latest and greatest way to move product.” 

To resonate with gen X beauty shoppers, 213Deli strives to deliver on credibility and convenience. The platform partners with two beauty experts per week to produce content that accompanies each product drop. Influencers, makeup artists and beauty editors such as Kirbie Johnson, Jamie Greenberg, Kelly Atterton, Dhavi Shira and Kayla Greaves have been 213Deli content contributors. Timed with the platform’s launch, Greenberg held a giveaway on Instagram featuring products from 213Deli’s brand partners. 

“They don’t have to have 5 million followers,” says Weiss. “They need to be credible, and they need to be authentic, that’s more important here. Is this a trusted source that knows what they’re talking about or someone that’s relatable? 

Text commerce platform
Launched in July, 213Deli is a beauty text commerce startup from Ipsy alums Nicole Collins, Corey Weiss and Jules Camposano. The name is a mashup between Los Angeles’s original area code and the get-anything fun that a traditional delicatessen evokes.

Customers can sign up for free on 213Deli’s website to start receiving texts. At the moment, it’s in beta mode and invite-only. Customers are asked to input their credit card and shipping information prior to their initial purchase. The text for each weekly drop features an image of the product as well as copy that details the product’s benefits. New users can opt to receive a $1 welcome gift, which is currently NatureLab Tokyo’s Scalp Balancing Saki Rinse. Orders ship out the same day from 213Deli’s West Coast warehouse at no charge.

Collins admits she was nervous leading up to the platform’s launch about customers’ understanding and connecting with 213Deli’s concept. She says, “You have to be a little bit ahead of the customer or you’re not doing anything interesting, but you can’t be so far ahead that they don’t get it.”

So far, 213Deli reports it’s picking up steam. A few product drops have sold out before the next drop has been revealed. For instance, Kosas’s Air Brow sold out last month. Other product drops include Coola’s Dew Good Illuminating Sunscreen Serum SPF 30, U Beauty’s Resurfacing Compound and Mutha’s Up All Night Eye Cream. 

213Deli declined to comment on projected sales or user numbers. Without sharing the platform’s repeat customer rate, Weiss describes it as encouraging. “This isn’t a novelty or a fad,” he says. “People really like it.”

213Deli isn’t the only retailer betting on the future of SMS commerce. Marc Lore-backed Wizard raised a $50 million series A round to bring its conversational commerce concept to market in 2021. Digital media company PureWow premiered Wowtext last year, and Walmart entered the text commerce market in December with its Text To Shop feature.

213Deli targets best-in-class prestige and luxury beauty products that have preexisting buzz. “I’ve been a merchant for well over a decade, and when you are trying to get in front of a new customer, you have to get in front of them with something compelling,” says Collins. “It might be new to them in that they haven’t tried it before, but not that they’ve never heard of it before.”

Moving forward, Collins hopes to integrate more product launches into the platform’s drop schedule. Two of 213Deli’s drops—Kopari’s Golden Aura Body Oil and Retrouve’s Balancing Face Oil—have coincided with global launch dates. Two more launches are planned for this year with another two scheduled for January.

Self-funded by Collins and Weiss, 213Deli will soon offer a loyalty program and enhanced text message personalization. The platform is reviewing different ways to incorporate artificial intelligence, but Weiss suggests only those that yield exchanges that feel human will pass the muster. He says, “We have good pedigrees, but we also know we don’t know everything. So, we’re also taking feedback from our partners and learning along the way, but we will hold true to our disruptive, innovative approach.”