Covid changed just about everything, including the way we experience beauty. We became accustomed to learning about, shopping for and buying makeup and other beauty products all virtually. Zoom lessons on how to apply makeup and do our hair became the norm. Simply put, the business of beauty has changed.
No one knows that better than Natasha Cornstein. The CEO of Blushington, a female-founded leader in makeup classes and curated beauty products, is a case study in not only how to pivot your business when life throws you a curveball, but how meaningful changes now will actually enhance your business when the dust settles.
“I knew beauty was here to stay,” reflects Cornstein. So rather than close up shop and wait out the storm, she reinvented the brand. “We did it with an eye for longevity post pandemic. How could we meet the changing needs of our customers, our expert beauty professionals and our curated brands during and after the pandemic?”
Her astute observations of changing consumer habits and the resulting strategic decisions not only saved her business but modernized the way consumers shop for and buy beauty products. She’s also launched careers and accelerated the earnings potential of more than 1,000 expert makeup artists (60% of whom are of color and 95% of whom are women!)
How The Beauty Business Has Changed
Consumers now seek one-on-one relationships with beauty professionals. Thanks to YouTube tutorials and influencers, today’s consumers are far more knowledgeable than ever before. Plus, they want authentic relationships with trusted experts who know them and their beauty needs. Blushington, for example, took inspiration from the one-on-one business model of iconic brands like Mary Kay and Avon, offering personalization and relationships, but added in expert, certified makeup artists. “For our makeup artists, this isn’t just a casual side gig. They form relationships with their clients and have a deep understanding of color theory, skin care and makeup,” says Cornstein.
Consumers want more control of their environment. Social distancing and capacity controls have changed the way consumers think about shopping. Browsing in crowded stores and sampling products are of little interest. Instead, consumers are seeking unique shopping experiences. Brands that let consumers learn about and buy products wherever they want—in their homes, offices or virtually—are doing it right, meeting their customers where they are.
Employees want entrepreneurial opportunities. The work-from-home environment has shed light on the flexibility and income earning potential available for entrepreneurial beauty experts. Hybrid platforms that allow employees to work both online and in person, and make incremental revenue through sales, are appealing.
Yvonda Smith, a Blushington certified makeup artist in Atlanta, feels empowered by her ability to make money through her virtual storefront. “When I apply or recommend products for a client, I can now give them the link to my cart, and they can buy it from me. That’s where empowerment comes from.” Hybrid platforms also enable employees from small towns to access larger markets and generate meaningful income, both in person and online. Certified makeup artist Ann-Marie Mitchell lives in tiny Dexter, Missouri and is booked through October. “You no longer have to live in New
York or Los Angeles to be a makeup artist and thrive,” says Mitchell. And she appreciates the flexibility in her schedule that will allow her to be a hands-on grandmother for a baby expected in August.
Virtual employees still crave connection. While working from home or online is great, employees still want the support of community. “Being a freelancer can be lonely,” says Britt Scott, a self-described “makeup nerd.” The Blushington Director of Artistry emphasizes the importance of having a community of like-minded people to share experiences, ask questions and have your back. “Here no one has to feel like they have to have all the answers on their own—you have a community,” she says.
Beauty brands are seeking diversified distribution channels. Even before the pandemic, makeup counters in department stores were ghost towns. Covid, and related safety concerns, only exacerbated the problem. Beauty brands are being forced to find new, creative ways to get their products to consumers. Expect to see more brands put products directly in the hands of trusted makeup artists. That way consumers can purchase confidently after having tried the product and received a recommendation from a trusted source.
Brands are seeking to limit risk and exposure. Most beauty retailers were founded as brick and mortar businesses. Brands that were able to successfully pivot to virtual models during the pandemic likely won’t go back. “By developing a virtual platform, we can engage with customers anywhere and certify makeup artists all over the world,” says Cornstein. Also, expect to see creative partnerships like “Blushington Beauty That Will Blo You Away,” a collaboration between Blushington and Blo Blow Dry Bar. By educating Blo employees at the Blushington Academy and selling a finely curated edit of their products in Blo locations, it has created a huge opportunity to expand the brand while limiting exposure and risk.
The pandemic changed the way many industries function, and the beauty business is no exception. Fortunately, companies like Blushington enable women to do what they love on their own terms with the potential for big payoffs. For brands, it provides new sources of exposure. And for customers…it provides a safe, easy and familiar way to shop, all while helping them look and feel their best.