Last week, Valdé Beauty did what many beauty brands do when they have a big product launch: It held a party.
Like your typical launch events, the evening event on January 25 featured a live DJ, product displays and influencers who turned heads with their elaborate outfits. But some aspects were a bit more on the surreal side: One influencer flew in on a broomstick. Some wore glowing sets of floating wings or crowns that hovered over their heads, while others wore animal heads.
The laws of physics did not apply in the event’s location: the Ainsley Gallery in the Sims-esque virtual world Decentraland, a metaverse where investors are rapidly scooping up “real estate” for future virtual storefronts.
“This event and the exposure have allowed me to potentially build connection and community with other people that are not necessarily my Valdé [customer] base,” said Margarita Arriagada, founder of Valdé Beauty.
The Valdé Beauty event was held to celebrate the launch of three limited-edition luxury lipstick cases (called lipstick “armor” by the brand), which were displayed on the walls of the NFT gallery venue. Clicking on an image led to a link to purchase the product — not through the brand’s website, but through NFT platform Bitski. A purchase of a $1,200 lipstick case in rose quartz, amethyst or white quartz comes with the brand’s full collection of lipstick shades, as well as a matching NFT art piece that was also on display in the gallery. All were collectibles, with only nine editions of the white quartz case available and 12 each of the other two options.
“What you’re paying [for] is really the crystal armor, and then you’re getting a digital artwork,” said Arriagada. “I know that for so many people that are not in the NFT space, [an NFT] is such a skeptical investment because it’s not a physical piece of art.”
Brands in the metaverse have been tapping into a community of NFT devotees who socialize in the virtual world. A purchase of a limited-edition Valdé Beauty piece includes a lifetime membership to the brand’s newly created Valdé NFT Collective. Members will be treated to VIP community experiences and perks, including access to the brand’s Discord and chat channels, as well as invites to exclusive talks with the brand’s founder, celebrity makeup artists and musical artists. Members will also receive a special digital wearable to show off at future metaverse social events.
“The most compelling aspect is the [Decentraland] community,” said Arriagada. “I received such an incredible amount of encouragement saying, ‘Yeah, you’ve got to do the [NFT] project. We will help you. We will support you.’ And I don’t necessarily get that on social — [not] on Instagram and certainly not on TikTok.”
“You have the games, but you also have the socializing” in Decentraland, said Rayan Godoi, co-founder of AR beauty tech brand PulpoAR. “This is one of the key differences between Decentraland and the other metaverses.” Sandbox, for example, is much more focused on gaming, he said.
More beauty Decentraland events are on the way: PulpoAR is in the process of developing NFT technology for beauty and currently working with an unnamed major beauty brand that will make its Decentraland debut in the first quarter of this year. And fashion brands have already gotten on board: The first Metaverse Fashion Week in Decentraland will include participation from Hugo Boss’ Gen-Z-focused spinoff brand, Hugo.
Among the roughly 500 guests that made their way into the Valdé Beauty party, influencers in attendance included Decentraland-famous NFT aficionados including Elise Swopes and Kelly Ann Collins, as well as beauty influencers from mainstream social platforms like actress Denise Vasi (263,000 followers on Instagram).
So far, Valdé Beauty has successfully auctioned off one NFT for charity, for $2,600, and sold eight of its available limited-edition lipstick case-and-NFT sets.
“No one knows what this is going to be,” said Arriagada of the future of the metaverse. “My most important priority is to build community and then hear from the community, and see what their appetite is and what they would love to see from the brand.”