Welcome to the Glossy 50, our first annual list featuring men and women contributing to the transformation of fashion, luxury, beauty and technology.
The industries are being turned on their heads. The heat is on to ship faster, lower prices and be first to market with trends. Those driving these modern strategies are the people we’re recognizing. They’re insiders from 10 categories we cover daily — including platforms, wearables, startups and streetwear — who captured our attention in the past year.
In this feature, we dive into their contributions to their industries’ new directions. Below are the honorees in the New Face of Beauty category. See honorees in other categories here.
Sephora has ridden retail’s shift to digital without many missteps. The beauty retailer has launched augmented reality try-on tools for mobile, incorporated tutorial videos to all of its product pages and brought popular user-generated content into stores by way of digital screens, all while continuing to drive sales for its parent, LVMH.
The company makes these digital executions look as effortless as a swipe of mascara, but these launches fall on the shoulders of Lucinda Newcomb, the retailer’s vp of digital product.
What falls under your purview at Sephora?
When the business dreams up crazy, audacious goals, we take those big ideas and turn them into reality. If someone says, “Hey, we should launch an Android app,” it’s my team who figures out what needs to be in there and designs an experience that will connect with our clients. We take the “What could we do?” and turn it into what’s tangible and realistic for the company.
How do you balance executive-team demands with what the customer is asking for?
Client experience is queen. If the customer is going to be somewhere, we want to be there first. As new opportunities start to arise, we’re there, learning and offering experiences that make sense. New channels don’t worry us.
What’s something you expect to take up a lot of your time and energy for the foreseeable future?
We recently launched an online Beauty Insider community, so we’ll be expanding that. The purpose of digital is to make the customer experience at Sephora more than transactional. Community is a great opportunity to drive a connection and to get people in front of others who have things in common with them. Digital doesn’t take the place of personal interactions; we’re heading to a place where we can help [the customer] feel understood online.
Siblings Laura and John Nelson have beauty in their blood. The founders of Seed Beauty — behind Kylie Jenner’s uber-successful Kylie Cosmetics line — were weaned at their father’s beauty industry supply store, Spatz Labs. It was there that the two decided to leave behind their executive roles to launch a digitally native beauty incubator, one that would be bent more on Instagram influence and YouTube videos than drugstore ubiquity. Seed’s first brand launch was ColourPop, whose products are directly inspired by online beauty trends. ColourPop now boasts 4.9 million Instagram followers, which is almost five times more than Revlon and CoverGirl. For a successful road map, those traditional beauty brands need not look further than one of the Nelsons’ core tenets for developing fast-selling products: to listen to their audience’s needs far more than they dictate.
When Shashi Batra died in May, the industry lost not just a stalwart but an innovator with infectious creativity and passion. Having founded Credo Beauty — the natural beauty spin on Sephora (where he worked on the founding team from 1998 to 2004) — in 2014, Batra was 10 steps ahead his colleagues, who have only recently begun embracing the natural movement. Batra was keen to push them in the right direction, once telling The New York Times he deliberately placed Credo stores near beauty chains that weren’t eco-friendly or organic. Today, the company has four locations in New York and California, with more on the way. “What really set Shashi apart was that he was so bright and could articulate anything with such passion,” says Annie Jackson, his former right-hand woman and Credo’s chief operating officer. “People were inspired by him to do better — to do more.”
Glossier has seen consistent success since launching in 2014, and 2017 is set to be a standout year. The beauty brand is on pace to match its 2016 revenue growth, which spiked 600 percent, and it’s expanded to international markets, including the U.K. and France. SVP of marketing Ali Weiss has helped drive this, pinpointing opportunities and keeping Glossier on course.
How has Glossier maintained its momentum?
First, we focus on what we’re building toward rather than get distracted by how quickly we’re growing. Our true north is building the first true beauty lifestyle brand that’s community-driven. The second piece of it is relying on our community. At the end of the day, the people who are heard the loudest are the customers and the community.
What are your thoughts on the power of social media?
There are really two perspectives on what social media can do: It can drive growth, or it can drive brand identity and community creation. We’ve definitely skewed toward the latter throughout the evolution of Glossier. We launched on Instagram because we knew it was a platform people were going to for information and inspiration around beauty and personal style. We were able to have conversations with our community there, and that’s where we brought Glossier to life.
What is your growth strategy?
I think about it as where we play and how we win where we’re playing. Where we play is in beauty, in a digital channel, driven by brand building and peer-to-peer recommendations. We’ll grow from there by building out our core — we’re doing that now with new products and category expansion within the beauty space — and also looking for adjacencies. We still have a really large market opportunity out there. We just launched in Canada, and we’re launching in the U.K. in the fall.
Korean beauty is ubiquitous in the U.S., thanks in large part to Sarah Lee and Christine Chang. The co-founders of Glow Recipe, who hail from South Korea, first brought their skin care sensibilities to the States while working in separate departments at L’Oréal in New York City. There, they played integral roles in launching K-beauty-inspired products such as cushion compacts and facial essences for brands including Lancôme and Kiehl’s. Now leading their own e-commerce company, Lee and Chang continue to pave the way for K-beauty through a partnership with Sephora. Not only does the beauty retailer sell Glow Recipe products, but it also consults with the duo on other K-beauty products and trends it should sell to stay ahead of the curve. Now, they’re focused on expanding the Glow Recipe experience, with recent pop-up shops and physical retail experiences at department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue.