3 makeup brand founders reveal their covid focus as well as post-covid opportunity and plans.

Below is an in-depth Q&A with Manna Kadar-founder, Manna Kadar Beauty, Heather Fink-founder, The Sexiest Beauty and Ravit Darougar-founder, 4 Ever Magic Cosmetics on how they adapted to COVID and their focus going forward.

1. What was the biggest impact of COVID on your brand? Please elaborate on the consequences of that impact on your business?

Manna Kadar-Manna Kadar Beauty 

A large part of the business at Manna Kadar Beauty (MKB) is retail distribution to 40,000 doors.  We had millions of dollars of canceled orders.

Heather Fink-The Sexiest Beauty

The biggest impact initially was the halt of brick & mortar businesses and the uncertainty of the situation for consumers, whether to spend money, which affected all channels.  Then another layer of complexity transpired as makeup usage patterns changed with quarantine, the WFH situation plus a face mask being required to go outside. We are primarily a lipstick brand. This impacted us heavily financially.

Ravit Darougar-4 Ever Magic Cosmetics

Since my brand focuses on sales to direct consumers online, we have seen an increase in sales, people prefer to shop online, rather than go to the stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, because we sell eyebrow kits, even though with mandatory mask ordinances have become the norm for many of us, people use more eyebrow and eye makeup. With our eyes and eyebrows being the only part of our face exposed while wearing a mask, it is the perfect opportunity to let our eyebrows make a statement.  By focusing on our eyebrows, we can appear put together while wearing a mask and no one needs to know what’s going on underneath it! Also, the increase is due to store mandatory closures and some even out of business.

Q2. How has your response evolved from when COVID first hit to now and what have been the results?

Manna Kadar-Manna Kadar Beauty

I have a close relationship with many of my buyers and have kept in constant contact to work cohesively to best forecast what customers will be purchasing in the near future and adapt to how behaviors may change in the future.

Heather Fink-The Sexiest Beauty

We always want to be in the solution. How can we help and be of service. Hand sanitizer sold out?  We downloaded the FDA formula, made it, and gave it away.  Health care workers in need? We sent out hundreds of care kits. 

In terms of product, fortunately we had some new formulas already in process that are at-home treatment, self-care-oriented, balms and masks. This put us in a position to service our customers evolving needs in the midst of it. We launched them in March and April, and they have been a well-received addition to our line.

We have made a focus on lipstick and how to work it back into your daily routine with our #BeSafeBeSexy campaign highlighting the mask-proof benefit of our Mattesheen liquid lip formula. Our Matteshine formula is ideal for getting Zoom-ready in a flash. We even launched new shades. It is important to be optimistic and service the needs of our customers.

Collaborations are so important for us and this time has provided an opportunity to make new connections and alliances that may not have happened otherwise. It feels like we are all putting ourselves out there a little more and yearning for that connection.   In August we launched a collaboration with Sue Phillips Fragrances called ROSES ARE RED Perfume & Lipstick Escentials. The concept is an uplifting burst of confidence and empowerment, an antidote for the “new normal” (because who wants to be normal anyway?)!   We have gotten incredible feedback from so many who are telling us they are ready to spray on their perfume, swipe on their lipstick, and go back out in the world!   

Another collab debuting this week with Nailcon and Naomi Nail Polish is our LIPS & TIPS feature, it is another way of helping our community feel polished and put together.

At retail, we launched at Beautyque NYC on their opening day May 15th. They are a new virtual store retailer who also pivoted quickly, and we connected with early on. They are building a community of like-minded brands and founders and engaging with the customers in a new way and we are thrilled to be a part of their platform.

We’ve been putting a lot of effort and resources into our website and DTC strategy and other retail channels of distribution. The results thus far are promising. 

We have a 360 global strategy that we are nurturing constantly and making progress. Onward and upward.

Now that I look at it, we have packed a lot into 6 months!

Ravit Darougar-4 Ever Magic Cosmetics

At the beginning, it was a shock for everyone and we were trying to see where it was going. We didn’t invest in new inventory. But pretty quickly, I understood that we should invest more in marketing, since people sit at home more and on social media more hours than they used to be. And the results were more visitors and sales on our website.

Q3. How do you expect makeup as a category to evolve due to COVID?

Manna Kadar-Manna Kadar Beauty

Makeup is still a major category in the beauty space  Now more than ever, people are seeing each other on zoom and need to be camera ready.

Heather Fink-The Sexiest Beauty

Clearly it must evolve to the current conditions, so I think transfer-proof makeup will be an ongoing trend, not that it is new, but it is especially relevant today and into the foreseeable future.

Ravit Darougar-4 Ever Magic Cosmetics

I expect makeup/cosmetics brands switching or adding their manufacturing to produce hand sanitizers, more basic color cosmetics products especially that focus on the eye area. Many companies that haven’t focused on their online and social media presence until now, will change their strategy to increase their social media proof and on online/ influencer marketing.

Q4. What changes in consumer behavior have you observed impacting makeup consumption and which behaviors are likely to stick post-COVID?

Manna Kadar-Manna Kadar Beauty

There has been a shift in what people are purchasing.  With fewer social gatherings and the use of masks, people are purchasing less lip products and more eye focused items.

Heather Fink-The Sexiest Beauty

We have been wearing makeup since Cleopatra. Through good times and bad. At the end of the day we all want to feel that transformative power of beauty products to uplift our spirit.  For me, it’s a lipstick, that will never change.

We’re talking a lot about self-care; it’s become a more mainstream concept that I believe will endure and consumer demand for those types of products like nail care and masks will continue.

Ravit Darougar-4 Ever Magic Cosmetics

The changes that I see in consumer behavior impacting makeup consumption are that people want more clean, safe makeup/cosmetics products to use on their face, and they want to support products that are Made in USA. Also, I think the behavior of carrying and using hand sanitizers in your purse, office, and car will stick after the pandemic is over.

Q5. What do you view as a golden opportunity for makeup brands in the post-COVID world?

Manna Kadar-Manna Kadar Beauty

I think each Brand is different.  I would say this is a time to innovate.

Heather Fink-The Sexiest Beauty

Personalized service. Get to know your customers better.  Talk to them one-on-one. Engage with them on a more personal level.  I personally read and respond to all our reviews, social media, live streams, and customer service inquiries. I’m touching customers (virtually) and helping them select the shade and formula that will be the perfect match for them. Addressing their concerns. Bringing the store to them wherever they are, whenever and however they want to shop.  Go back to the beginning.  I’m reminded of Estee Lauder in the department store touching and listening to her customers. Now we can do it virtually as well.

Ravit Darougar-4 Ever Magic Cosmetics

The golden opportunity is to focus on producing products that are Made in USA with safe ingredients and creating smudge proof/ water resistant makeup products that are suitable for events/parties, since people will go back to attend events/ parties.

Q6. What recommendations do you have for other makeup brands during these turbulent times as well as post-COVID world?

Manna Kadar-Manna Kadar Beauty

Listen to what your customers are saying and watch what they are doing- therein lies the answer to what your customer will want in the future.

Heather Fink-The Sexiest Beauty

Stay focused. Listen to your customer and the needs of the market. Think about the consumers’ problems and how you can solve them. Don’t be afraid to pivot or try new things if indicated.  Look at your brand mission, your core DNA, and stay true to it.

Ravit Darougar-4 Ever Magic Cosmetics

Keep being positive and focus on developing new products, now it’s the time to be creative and once the pandemic is over, you are ready to launch new products.

key takeaways 3 make up founders covid strategy

While makeup is one of the hardest hit categories by COVID, all three founders recommend listening to your consumers and innovating to win in the new normal.

Heather thinks lipstick will bounce back, Manna vouches for eye products whereas Ravit cites Made in USA and smudge-proof makeup products will be clear opportunities post-COVID.

What matters the most is that you listen to both your consumers and non-consumers and come up with different scenarios for the post-COVID opportunity, and then ready your brand to win the future. Knock Knock!

Need help in defining future scenarios to win the future, book a free strategy call here!

ROHIT BANOTA, Founder of StorySaves, has transformed dozens of beauty brands with brand story, strategy and innovation for *10X organic growth delivered from day 1 and powered by direct to consumer.

He has over 17 years of marketing and business experience growing consumer packaged brands including with startups and MNCs like P&G Beauty and Grooming.