The New Zealand Herald


Janetta Mackay talks to two in­no­va­tors who just might help you launch your own beauty prod­uct

- Cosmetics · Beauty · Consumer Goods · Fashion & Beauty · Persia White · Mecca · North America · United States of America · Sephora · United Kingdom · New Zealand · Australia · The Cult

If you’ve ever wished to have your own cos­metic prod­ucts made to or­der, then look out for two Amer­i­can fairy god­moth­ers who could make your dreams come true. The only catch is their com­mu­nity in cy­berspace will de­ter­mine whether the founders of Vo­li­tion Beauty wave their glit­tery wands your way.

Pa­tri­cia San­tos and Brandy Hoff­man got to­gether to start their own busi­ness af­ter long ca­reers in the beauty in­dus­try. They both reck­oned it was time to shake up the sta­tus quo with a way of work­ing where con­sumers not only had more say in what they were able to buy, but ac­tu­ally in­vented it.

Their “out­side-in” ap­proach in­verts the tra­di­tional model of prod­uct cre­ation by brands. In­stead, con­sumers are in­vited to pitch an idea for a beauty prod­uct that does not yet ex­ist but meets a real need. They do this via the brand’s web­site and, if the idea makes the cut, it is voted on by Vo­li­tion’s beauty com­mu­nity to see if it has enough sup­port to pro­ceed to de­vel­op­ment and sale.

There are a few guide­lines: that prod­ucts fol­low clean beauty prin­ci­ples and are no-fuss in style, with Pa­tri­cia and Brandy say­ing they are sick of over-priced prod­ucts that make over-hyped claims. They say they want to em­power women through crowd-sourc­ing.

Four years af­ter found­ing their busi­ness, they are bring­ing their prod­ucts to Aus­tralasian stores, where they will be stocked at Mecca.

The en­trepreneur­s are keen to get New Zealan­ders’ ideas to add to their next round of wand-wav­ing.

In North Amer­ica, Vo­li­tion is stocked at Sephora and in the UK at Cult Beauty, plus it has half a mil­lion fol­low­ers on­line. We asked for a lit­tle more in­sight into how the busi­ness works.

What’s the usual time to mar­ket from sug­ges­tion to com­ple­tion?

It’s a lot shorter than tra­di­tional beauty brands and we can typ­i­cally ex­e­cute in any­where from four-six months upon its suc­cess at the cam­paign vot­ing stage.

What’s your per­sonal favourite prod­uct across the range?

Pa­tri­cia: So hard to de­cide. My whole skin­care rou­tine is, of course, Vo­li­tion. But Turmeric Bright­en­ing Pol­ish is my go-to face scrub.

Brandy: Ev­ery­one on our team knows this an­swer! Straw­berry-C Bright­en­ing Serum. I re­mem­ber the first time I tried the pro­to­type and im­me­di­ately saw a dif­fer­ence. My skin is no­tice­ably duller when I stop us­ing it reg­u­larly. It is my favourite prod­uct [of those] I have helped for­mu­late.

Have you de­vel­oped a prod­uct of your own?

No. We do not in­ter­fere with the process by ca­ter­ing to our pref­er­ences. Ev­ery­one has to sub­mit the ideas and get com­mu­nity sup­port for it to be suc­cess­ful. The ideas we are get­ting are so ground­break­ing they would beat ours for sure. We get enough sat­is­fac­tion mak­ing sure that the for­mula qual­ity is su­pe­rior and it ex­ceeds the innovator’s ex­pec­ta­tions. It is ex­cit­ing to bring th­ese amaz­ing ideas to life. Those be­come our ideas too, be­cause we were part of the jour­ney, which is what is unique about Vo­li­tion.

What per­cent­age of ideas goes for­ward for com­mu­nity vot­ing?

We’re pretty strict and have a stan­dard that we only make the best, so only about

5 per cent of ideas sub­mit­ted make it to the vot­ing stage. Of the ideas that are not se­lected it is mainly be­cause the prod­uct al­ready ex­ists and we point them to those brands.

How big is that com­mu­nity?

We’re grow­ing con­stantly and we have al­most half a mil­lion com­mu­nity mem­bers.

When did you launch and how?

We started from scratch with our com­mu­nity. From the very be­gin­ning, all the prod­ucts went through the same process and were crowd-sourced. We launched our plat­form in 2016 re­quest­ing sub­mis­sions. It quickly grew to five suc­cess­ful prod­ucts, which be­came our ini­tial as­sort­ment. We had close re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple who were sit­ting on amaz­ing, in­no­va­tive prod­ucts that we wanted to show­case. We now carry 25 in to­tal on our e-com­merce site.

Tell us about any stand­out prod­ucts?

We re­ceive a lot of sub­mis­sions based on skin con­cern (i.e. “I have wrin­kles and fine lines or hy­per-pig­men­ta­tion or dry­ness” etc). A lot of our in­no­va­tors do their own re­search for which in­gre­di­ents can help with th­ese con­cerns. Skin con­cerns are faced by ev­ery­one and it’s usu­ally an on­go­ing search un­til it’s solved. Some­times we see waves of in­ter­est about a par­tic­u­lar in­gre­di­ent, lately seen with clas­sic skin­care in­gre­di­ents like hyaluronic acid and pep­tides, which are he­roes, but not nec­es­sar­ily new. But when com­bined with the next beauty break­through, cel­ery, now we have some­thing spe­cial. That is what hap­pened with Nas­tia’s Cel­ery Green Cream.

Why do you think women have re­sponded to the con­cept?

Ev­ery­one has had a beauty idea be­fore or a “why doesn’t this ex­ist?” thought be­fore and they usu­ally love to share them.

It helps to cre­ate mi­cro-en­trepreneur­s in a space where it can be dif­fi­cult to suc­ceed. We give them an op­por­tu­nity to be heard. As for de­mo­graph­ics, we’re def­i­nitely pri­mar­ily women-cen­tric al­though we of course ac­cept (and have had) male in­no­va­tors.

In terms of age, race, back­ground, etc, it re­ally varies — which we love! We serve ev­ery­one’s needs, and no idea is too nar­row be­cause any­one can par­tic­i­pate with the brand. In fact we don’t ever use the term “niche” at Vo­li­tion, as we pre­fer to use the term “un­der-served” or “un­der-rep­re­sented”, which is what the Vo­li­tion com­mu­nity has come to ex­pect from us.

Have you had any sug­ges­tions from New Zealand or Aus­tralian con­sumers yet?

Yes, they have been slowly trick­ling in and we’re so ex­cited about it. We re­cently opened up all votes on Vo­li­tion cam­paigns from Aus­tralia and New Zealand. Now we are ac­tively re­cruit­ing for idea sub­mis­sions from Ki­wis and Aussies be­cause — who knows? — the next big beauty prod­uct on the shelves at Mecca might come from an idea from a beauty en­thu­si­ast in New Zealand!

What’s next for Vo­li­tion?

We’re con­tin­u­ally grow­ing our com­mu­nity and our in­no­va­tors so we ex­pect a con­tin­ual sup­ply of in­no­va­tion and amaz­ing ideas and we’d love for some of that cre­ativ­ity to come from New Zealand. We’re ob­vi­ously ex­pand­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally so that more peo­ple can ex­pe­ri­ence Vo­li­tion Beauty best-sell­ers and our unique prod­uct de­vel­op­ment process. Flag­ship stores? Stay tuned.

• Find an edit of Vo­li­tion prod­ucts at Mec­ca­

• If you’re keen to see your pet idea on a shelf, then go to Vo­li­tion­

 ??  ?? Pa­tri­cia San­tos and Brandy Hoff­man of Vo­li­tion Beauty. Photo / Sup­plied
Pa­tri­cia San­tos and Brandy Hoff­man of Vo­li­tion Beauty. Photo / Sup­plied
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