Beautycounter, which launched March 4, is the first beauty brand in a long time to eschew the traditional shopping method (read: Sephora) from the get-go. Instead, the company is grooming a new generation of chic, health-conscious Avon-ish ladies to sell its stylish, non-toxic products to their friends and family. (It’s a model used by Arbonne and even Neal’s Yard in the U.S.)
The brand is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based Gregg Renfrew (a New York expat), who became passionate about cleaner beauty products after watching a documentary and reading Stacy Malkan’s Not Just a Pretty Face.
“I became really focused on a personal level on the whole healthier, non-toxic movement. But I felt like I had to choose [between] chic products or products that were good for me,” she says. “Women shouldn’t have to compromise their health in the name of beauty.”
Beautycounter (which obviously has no counter, but does have a retail website) currently offers an essential skin-care line of seven products ($22–$42) plus three gorgeous facial oils ($175 for the set), and a body-care line that includes shampoo and conditioner ($18 and up). Makeup will debut in the fall, followed by an anti-aging collection by the end of the year.
Some brands go for organic seals. “Our platform has really been built on safety rather than natural or organic,” Renfrew says. To make the products as safe as possible, she hired Mia Davis, the former organizing director for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
The team created a “comprehensive ingredient screen” that doesn’t necessarily ban chemicals, but that evaluates each one before determining whether to allow it. All of the chemicals banned in the EU (most of which are used in the U.S.), for example, were immediately off the list.
“It was a painstaking process going ingredient by ingredient, not just in isolation but in combination. And it’s an imperfect world with lots of data gaps,” she says. “We’re just trying to focus on the safety angle and marry that to performance.”
On that front, Renfrew brought in Christy Coleman, a clean makeup artist who has worked with celebs like Emmy Rossum and Heidi Klum, to help vouch for how well the products actually worked.
MAKING SOCIAL SELLING CHIC
You won’t find Beautycounter’s products at Sephora—or on store shelves anywhere. Instead, Renfrew is tapping the woman-to-woman sales model used by Avon and Mary Kay.
Except, instead of calling it “network marketing,” she’s dubbed it “social selling.” And via mobile technology, social media, and tapping healthy, passionate women, Renfrew’s attempting to give the sales model an upgrade and some cosmopolitan cache.
“It’s a way for us to share our story while educating and empowering women with the awareness as well as the economic opportunity,” she says. “We’re making it so that you can do this in a totally classy, exciting way.” —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information, visit www.beautycounter.com