This New Brand Provides Tweens And Teens Makeup That’s On Par With Urban Decay And MAC
Samantha Cutler believes kids shouldn’t be stuck with cheap beauty products made from cheap ingredients and components. Her new brand, Petite ‘n Pretty, gives them cosmetics with the quality expected from the likes of Stila, Smashbox and MAC, not coincidentally brands she worked at before venturing out on her own.
“My friends that are 35, they say to me, ‘I’m wearing your products, and they’re better than the products I normally use.’ I tell them that’s because they’re better than any of the products I’ve created my whole career,” says Cutler, who’s specialized in product development for more than a decade in the beauty industry. “We’re working with the best suppliers, and the raw materials are just better.”
Petite ‘n Pretty is starting with a cheek and highlighter duo, eye and cheek palette, lip gloss, hair and body glitter, and dual-ended contour brush. The idea behind the palette is to deliver the tools teens and tweens need to replicate makeup looks they might be spot their favorite social media gurus experimenting with on YouTube or Instagram.
“When you see the palette, it feels very on-trend with what you’re seeing in the prestige beauty space. It could live at Sephora,” says Cutler. “Your mom may not buy you an Urban Decay palette, but she may be OK with a palette from Petite ‘n Pretty that feels like it.”
The brand’s products, which are aimed at girls and boys aged 6 to 15, run from $16 to $34, prices Cutler selected to be 25% below the prices of products from upscale beauty brands directed at adults. Petite ‘n Pretty isn’t for bargain hunters searching makeup in dollar bins.
“We are for the in-the-know mom that shops at Sephora or Ulta. She’s on social media. She wants her child to have the best food and cool clothes. As much as we want to have our product available for the masses, we really can’t do that and provide the best.”
“We are for the in-the-know mom that shops at Sephora or Ulta. She’s on social media. She wants her child to have the best food and cool clothes,” says Cutler. “As much as we want to have our product available for the masses, we really can’t do that and provide the best.”
The process to obtain the best ingredients and packaging encompassed extensive testing and consultation. Petite ‘n Pretty, for example, conducted heavy metal tests on mica it was considering putting in its formulas. The mica didn’t pass the tests, and the brand passed on incorporating it in its products. Instead, it depends upon a high-grade, pure mica that’s considerably costlier than the mica it originally considered.
Petite ‘n Pretty also assembled a board of advisors with occupational therapist Jean Pacifico-Banta, pediatrician Maria Garcia Lloret and pediatric psychologist Marissa Feldman to vet the safety and function of its offerings. Products endured patch, stability and compatibility testing as well a pediatric clinical perception test demonstrating they help with teen and tween confidence and creativity. Petite ‘n Pretty asserts its products are vegan, and gluten-, paraben-, nut- and phthalate-free.
Tapping Pacifico-Banta’s expert advice, Cutler chose packaging with small body parts in mind. Petite ‘n Pretty’s lip-gloss container is round rather than rectangular because round containers are easier for young fingers to wield. The sizes of the cheek brush and doe-foot lip-gloss applicator are a quarter smaller than the sizes of such elements in products for older customers. While those elements are smaller in Petite ‘n Pretty, Cutler underscores the formula amounts the brand includes in its products are equivalent to the amounts widely found in beauty merchandise.
“There’s nothing for kids at places their parents shop. At Sephora, time and time again, we see moms going in saying, ‘Do you have an eyeshadow my daughter can use for her dance recital? What’s available for my son or daughter that is age-appropriate?'”
The testing, premium ingredients and packaging, and attention to detail sent Petite ‘n Pretty’s expenses soaring. Cutler shares it took in excess of $1 million to get off the ground, and she turned to family members to support the business. She doesn’t anticipate Petite ‘n Pretty breaking even during its first year on the market. At the moment, the brand is available only online, although Cutler envisions retail distribution in its future. She foresees the brand entering traditional beauty specialty retailers, not children’s stores.
“There’s nothing for kids at places their parents shop. At Sephora, time and time again, we see moms going in saying, ‘Do you have an eyeshadow my daughter can use for her dance recital? What’s available for my son or daughter that is age-appropriate?’” says Cutler. “The quality of our products is truly artistry level. We should be living with other prestige brands.”
Getting word out about Petite ‘n Pretty has been a tad tricky. The brand has focused heavily on YouTube and Instagram, but not all teens and tweens have regular access to a cellphone, tablet or computer. For customers without digital access, Petite ‘n Pretty invites them to contact it via snail mail. A note card in the packages it sends out informs customers of the snail-mail option, and the brand has received letters from kids dispensing product and logo ideas.
Still, influencers are impactful, and Petite ‘n Pretty has amassed 23,000-plus Instagram followers early on in part due to them spotlighting the brand. When 11-year-old YouTuber JessaLyn Grace posted a video about Petite ‘n Pretty, Cutler reports the video racked up 1.5 million views in four weeks. “All these kids went to our website. We had hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential sales, but the sales weren’t followed through on because the kids have to talk to their moms, and their moms might say, ‘What’s this brand?’ Or moms will say, ‘Let’s wait for your birthday,’” she says. “We hear all the time, ‘My mom won’t let me wear makeup. Can you talk to her?’ Or we hear, ‘I will get it on my birthday or Christmas.’”
Product development isn’t as tricky as marketing for Cutler. It’s her passion and pastime. Petite ‘n Pretty’s product pipeline is bursting through 2020. A Halloween shade extension of its body and hair glitter is up next, and a clear mascara is in the product plans. Cutler says, “We’ve been developing products that are what our users really want for their first experiences with makeup, and we’ll grow with them as their beauty journey grows.”