Makeup Artist Brit Cochran Uses Her Discerning Eye To Cultivate New E-Tailer Launch Party’s Prestige Indie Beauty Selection
Brit Cochran isn’t a fan of beauty retail chains. “I find the big stores to be dirty, and I think they’re overwhelming. They don’t have a strong aesthetic vision,” says the makeup artist. “I wanted a place that has a boutique feeling that would bring together all these exciting new brands under one retail concept.”
Cochran has created such a concept in Launch Party, her online beauty boutique that went live late last year and is slated to add a brick-and-mortar incarnation down the line. It’s kicked off with 18 brands spanning skincare, makeup, fragrance, bath and body, and tools, including Botanica, Alder New York, Glam & Grace, Spela Cosmetics, The Tart Peach, Ouli’s Ointment, Bathing Culture and Earth Harbor.
“The name Launch Party indicates something that’s new and that you haven’t heard of. That ties back to the brands that I’m carrying that maybe a customer hasn’t heard of yet,” says Cochran. “Also, I wanted Launch Party to have an element of fun, cheerfulness and levity to it. This is about expressing yourself. It’s like going to a launch party where you want to learn new things and meet new people.”
Launch Party guides customers through the shopping experience by labeling products eco-friendly, organic and vegan, and indicating whether they’re women-owned and give back to society. On top of icons illustrating these attributes, product descriptions cover key ingredients and expected results. Cochran describes her makeup style as natural with pops of color, and Launch Party doesn’t stray from that style. It has a clean layout with vibrant photos and hues to inject punches of excitement.
Asked about Launch Party’s target consumer, Cochran responds, “She’s on a journey to discover something new that she feels speaks to her values and also speaks to her aesthetics. She’s not going to be interested in the traditional brands that her mom was into. She’s looking for something more artisanal, local or natural.”
“I’m a really discerning customer myself. So, when I choose brands, it’s because I’m really passionate about their products.”
Launch Party has a preference for brands with prestige presentations. To curate its selection, Cochran examined their ingredients to determine if they’re effective, the design of their packaging to make sure it stands out on the digital page, and positioning. “I want to read the brand story and see that they’re doing something different. I want them to have a hook I can use to sell to my customers. It can be that they use all organic ingredients or have products that benefit people with eczema,” she says, stressing, “I’m a really discerning customer myself. So, when I choose brands, it’s because I’m really passionate about their products.”
Originally from Cincinnati, Cochran lived in New York for 14 years. She first worked as a trend analyst, visual merchandiser and creative director in the city before transitioning to makeup artistry. In her over a decade as a makeup artist, Cochran has handled makeup on campaigns for brands the likes of Alice + Olivia, Kate Spade and Suno. Currently, she estimates she spends 10 to 15 days a month on set as a makeup artist and dedicates the time she’s not on set to building Launch Party. In 2018, Cochran moved back to Cincinnati, and the move has helped her save money to put toward the e-commerce platform.
Cochran remains on the hunt for brands to grow Launch Party’s assortment. In particular, she’s planning to expand its makeup repertoire. At the moment, she’s stayed away from complexion products in favor of lip, cheek and eye products, but she’s keen on plunging into complexion with the right brand. Cochran says, “A lot of indie makeup brands go for the 18-color eyeshadow palette Instagram look. That’s not my aesthetic, and I don’t think that’s most people’s aesthetic. That’s my biggest challenge.” She’s searching for CBD and sun protection products, too. Cochran is largely sticking to minimum order quantities as she purchases brands for Launch Party. Early on, Alder New York’s Black Obsidian Facial Roller, Earth Harbor’s Celestine Hydra-Plumping Peptide Serum and The Tart Peach’s Beam Lip Tint & Highlighter are among its bestsellers.
Amplifying Launch Party’s audience is Cochran’s principal objective for 2020, and she’s begun to dabble in social media advertising to raise consumer awareness. She’s spotlighting the e-tailer’s indie focus in its ads. For example, a Launch Party ad that touts it has “indie beauty gems for the casually gorgeous” spiked traffic to its website tenfold. However, Cochran notes in-person events lead to far greater sales conversion than social media ads so far, suggesting to her that a physical location could be a boon to business.
Cochran is considering opening a store in Cincinnati’s historic neighborhood Over-The-Rhine, which has been called “a grand tale of urban revival” by Forbes, perhaps later this year. “I started online because it’s easier for me to fund, but, especially in beauty, a brick-and-mortar store is essential. Beauty is a sensorial, tactile thing. I think the online store will eventually serve for reorders,” she says. “I wanted to have fragrance really badly, but it’s hard to sell online. Having a store allows you to get the product in people’s hands. Having a beautiful bottle in your hand can be very seductive. It’s not as seductive as an image on a website.”