Attention British Natural Indie Brands: Rare Beauty Is A New E-tailer Dedicated To You
Rare Beauty offers a rare online stage for British indie beauty brands.
The e-tailer carries around 50 face, body and hair products from eight natural brands: Alexa Sky Botanicals, Bloom Remedies, Freyaluna Skincare, Magical Tree, Myroo, Supernatural Beauty, Mallow+White and Nakin. Founder Corinne Thomas estimates another 25 brands are eager to launch on Rare Beauty, and she will be introducing two to three brands to the website monthly.
“Although the natural beauty market is growing and gaining traction every day, there hasn’t been a marketplace in the U.K. catering to small, independent brands and giving them a platform. There’s a genuine opportunity there that’s quite exciting,” she says. “My vision for Rare Beauty is to be the go-to marketplace for brands that are just starting up and want to gain a stronger online presence. I want to keep it very niche and based on U.K. brands.”
Besides being located in the U.K., brands on Rare Beauty have to avoid potentially harmful and irritating chemicals, be cruelty-free, depend on eco-friendly packaging and espouse ethical supply chain standards. The website has a preference for products incorporating certified organic ingredients and that are vegan or vegetarian. Rare Beauty holds inventory and takes a 50% margin on sales.
“My vision for Rare Beauty is to be the go-to marketplace for brands that are just starting up and want to gain a stronger online presence. I want to keep it very niche and based on U.K. brands.”
Thomas’ road to Rare Beauty began with her mother giving her the book “All Natural Beauty” by Karin Berndl and Nici Hofer. The book led to her reassessing conventional beauty products and making natural beauty products herself. Thomas considered creating her own brand, but decided her strengths were better put to use selling multiple brands.
“With the social and political challenges that we face with Brexit, it’s important to champion U.K. brands and show that they can compete on a global level,” says Thomas, adding about Rare Beauty, “I genuinely don’t know how it will grow and develop, but 95% of the brands I approached about it said, ‘Where do I sign up?’ Some of them may eventually move on to larger marketplaces when they get larger, but there will always be new brands coming along to showcase.”
Thomas is upfront with brands that Rare Beauty’s business may be slow initially. “We are not pretending that we are going to sell hundreds of units of their stock in the first month, and they respond to that realism,” she says. “Any small organization needs to diversify its revenue stream. Hopefully, this will become one income stream for them among many. The brands that have really responded to our opportunity are the ones that are quite savvy about that.”
“With the social and political challenges that we face with Brexit, it’s important to champion U.K. brands and show that they can compete on a global level.”
Rare Beauty is designed to look clean and place the spotlight on the merchandise. Thomas asks brands to supply product photos with white backgrounds. “We really want the products and the brands to be the stars of the show,” she says. “We will leave as much website real estate to them as we can.”
The products sold by Rare Beauty are reviewed by so-called residents. The residents are women selected to represent different demographic groups and skin types. Claire Stone, for example, is a 43-year-old nutritional therapist and mom living in the city Bristol with sensitive and mature skin while Hannah Stark is a 26-year-old Glasgow resident and pet sitter with combination skin, and Helen Webster is a 35-year-old writer in Bristol with dry and sensitive skin.
“We are looking at these residents as your trusted friends. You will get to know them, their tone of voice and the products that they like,” says Thomas. “It will give customers a sense of confidence that the product they’re buying has been tested by a real person. Although they may see brands on the shop they’ve never heard of before, they will be able to read reviews from these women that they hopefully relate to.”
“Ideally by 2020, we will be as zero waste as we possibly can be, and have no plastic whatsoever in our supply chain and that includes the products themselves.”
While Rare Beauty only launched this week, Thomas has her sights on its future endeavors. She’s sketched out a five-year plan with plenty to do. In the relatively near term, Thomas expects to host events in Bristol, where Rare Beauty is headquartered, that could be replicated elsewhere, and release collections of trial-sized products and beauty boxes to encourage customers to experiment with unfamiliar items. Longer term, she aspires to produce Rare Beauty makeup and promote product refills.
“Ideally by 2020, we will be as zero waste as we possibly can be, and have no plastic whatsoever in our supply chain and that includes the products themselves,” says Thomas. “About 90% to 95% of our products now are in glass or recyclable materials, and that’s a differentiator because most other marketplaces have a lot of plastic. That’s a key issue for consumers and will continue to be. We want to be at the forefront of that and, when you work with small brands, you can be agile in order to do that.”