It’s been a transformative year for the fashion and beauty industries: Direct-to-consumer brands moved further into traditional-brand territory, streetwear and luxury became increasingly intertwined, and wellness’s impact on beauty became apparent industrywide. At the same time, widespread movements toward authenticity, transparency, sustainability and diversity took shape, forcing strategic updates across departments, at brands across the board.
In our second annual Glossy 50 list, rolling out all week, we’re honoring the industry insiders responsible for driving these important shifts. Below are the honorees representing Legacy Beauty’s Leaders.
Danielle Azoulay only joined L’Oréal USA as head of corporate social responsibility and sustainability in May 2017, but her work has a had profound effect on the company at large.
After L’Oréal USA reached an 86 percent carbon emissions reduction in 2017, Azoulay helped the company find a unique renewable natural gas solution for 19 of its U.S. manufacturing and distribution facilities to achieve carbon neutrality by 2019. Through her work, L’Oréal USA introduced its Sustainable Products Optimization Tool (SPOT), which is designed to measure the environmental and social impacts of all L’Oréal products internally.
“It’s something consumers can feel good about when buying from our brands,” said Azoulay. — Priya Rao
Since 2012, Guive Balooch has been at the helm of L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator, helping the 99-year-old company produce technological innovations that will fuel its next 100 years of growth. As vp of the tech incubator, Balooch is responsible for leading the development of new consumer products in-house. The incubator has been pumping out new innovations since The Makeup Genius app first debuted in 2014, letting users virtually try on makeup with AR.
Other incubator-born products since have focused on problem solving and customization, with 2018 seeing the launch of a battery-free electronic wearable called My Skin Track UV in January, informing wearers of how much UV exposure they are receiving. This was followed by the unveiling of Custom D.O.S.E (Diagnostic Optimization Serum Experience) in March, which can scan and evaluate a customer’s skin and combine active ingredients into a tailor-made serum in three to five minutes. What began as a team of 10 people with a focus on roughly 10 product launches using augmented reality and connected devices has since expanded to 33 people in offices in San Francisco, Tokyo and Paris — that includes data scientists, UX designers, biologists and industrial designers, among others. It plays into L’Oréal’s Beauty for All mission, which details the company’s initiatives around technology, diversity and sustainability as it moves forward in modernization.
The guiding principle behind each of the incubator’s projects is using technology to solve real customer problems, such as finding the right shade of foundation, or creating meaningful behavioral changes, like informing people of when they’ve been exposed to too much to the sun so they know to apply sunscreen, Balooch said. He was particularly proud of the My Skin Track UV launch this year, which will be put into production in early 2019.
“We have to make sure we have the right values in everything we create,” he said. “We wanted people to live healthier lives in the sun and be able to provide them with information that could help them change their behavior.”
All of the product developments also reflect the understanding that personalization, automation and virtual reality will dominate the future of beauty, according to Balooch. But the technology required to act on these three pursuits is still in nascent stages, which can make the incubator’s ability to address them and its guiding principles more difficult.
“You have to listen to the consumer,” Balooch said. “But you also have to be clever about what those projects could be, because a lot of times, you can’t just ask consumers questions about something that is completely new.” — Emma Sandler
Ulta Beauty is investing heavily in its brick-and-mortar retail strategy, opening 100 new stores in 2018, with more physical stores to open in the coming years. And Prama Bhatt, Ulta senior vice president of digital and e-commerce, has significantly elevated the company’s online experience.
In her role, Bhatt, who has been with the retailer since 2014, oversees online merchandising, digital marketing, site experience, mobile apps and e-commerce operations. Through her efforts, she has driven the Ulta business forward this last year. In 2017, Bhatt increased e-commerce sales by nearly 65 percent to $569 million, and now, Ulta’s online business accounts for 10 percent of company sales — a goal the retailer hit two years earlier than planned.
Part of it is Bhatt’s keen merchandising sense. This year for the online-only assortment, she brought in new brands, including Storybook Cosmetics, Sugarbear Hair, Too Cool For School and Winky Lux. “We wanted to think strategically about where our customer was discovering products, and how to make her excited and not disappointed when she came to us online,” Bhatt said.
Additionally, Bhatt has also been forward-thinking when it comes to the Ulta mobile experience. “Companies and people are always trying to be mobile-first, and if you think about how wedded people are to their phones, this very personal device, we want to always be part of those experiences,” she said.
Bhatt pointed to the Ulta Beauty app, which underwent a major redesign last year — it is currently ranked 40th in the App store’s shopping category and has 4.9 rating out of 5, with over 304,000 reviews. “It’s been a big part of our growth story, and it’s not just an app with experiences like augmented reality — you can scan products in stores, you can search for a product and you can use voice. The app has become a customer’s very own personal shopping assistant, whether they are in our stores or online,” she said. “We want to continually be where our customer is and understand how she is shopping.”
Facilitating that easier shopping experience has been important to Bhatt, despite her digital focus: She helped increase the percentage of loyalty members who are omni-channel shoppers to 10 percent and is testing a new buy-online, pick-up-in-store initiative this year. That is an extension of her other successful store-to-door program that allows customers to order online in physical stores and have products shipped to their homes. According to Bhatt, this has been particularly successful with brands that aren’t available in every Ulta door, like ColourPop and MAC, as well as digitally native brands that are in high demand but in limited distribution.
“We want to connect the dots on where our customer is getting inspired and then convert on that inspiration,” said Bhatt. “I don’t think of what’s happening at Ulta Beauty as being a digital-only story, though it’s definitely a driver, I think of what is happening as an Ulta story – the improved value, awareness and experience is something we are all striving for.” — Priya Rao
Kate Oldham knows first-hand just how important the in-store experience is, having started her career decades ago on the selling floor of Saks Fifth Avenue. Now the company’s svp and general merchandise manager of beauty, jewelry and home, Oldham is responsible for keeping up with rapidly evolving categories.
Most recently, Oldham steered the ship around Saks’ updated beauty floor, which debuted in May and was the first part of a $250 million renovation in the Manhattan flagship. Not only is the new space on the second floor versus the ground floor, where most department stores house beauty, but, at 32,000 square feet, it’s 40 percent larger than the previous space.
What was the impetus in updating Saks’ beauty floor?
There is always so much happening in beauty, and the categories within beauty have been responsible for such explosive growth. When we started thinking about the renovation, we realized we were quite land-locked on the first floor. We wanted to think of new ways to engage our consumers, not only in a competitive way, but in a luxurious way. Before, if you were on the first floor, you might feel a bit conspicuous getting a makeover or a massage, or even a consultation. We thought we could do better.
Why did Saks focus in on beauty treatments, as well as designer beauty brands?
We believed we had to have differentiators to draw people back in. Service has always been important to Saks — we felt no other department or specialty store had done it right or in a big way. We brought in Face Gym from London, Martine de Richeville from Paris, Blink eyebrow bar and Skinney Medspa, but we also included 15 spa rooms. We wanted the customer to experience products and services in a high-touch way.
Why is luxury still so important to Saks?
For us, it’s about the environment you are coming into as well the educated, expert associate. We also built out an events space, so brands and founders can talk about what their products are and what they can mean to the consumer. By having all of these experiences alongside beauty product, it makes customers want to stay and play for the entire day. — Priya Rao
When seasoned beauty industry veteran Jill Scalamandre was tapped to be president of the Global Makeup Center of Excellence for Shiseido Americas in 2016, she wanted to create a “think tank” across the company’s brands like Shiseido, Bare Minerals and Buxom. It was a way for Scalamandre to leverage not only best practices, but also innovation and creation among the Shiseido business’s wide-ranging and large teams. “We wanted to encourage global interactions among a diverse pool of talent within makeup,” she said.
Cosmetics was top of mind for Scalamandre, and she made that clear with the relaunch of Shiseido color this past August. A two-year project in the making, Scalamandre led the New York and Tokyo Shiseido teams across product development, marketing, communications, artistry and visual merchandising to bring the debut to life. Subsequently, the 146-year-old Japanese beauty brand stripped all of its existing cosmetics from retailers and e-commerce channels, and introduced a new makeup range based on the four distinct textures of the products: inks, powders, gels and dews.
“What we’ve learned throughout this launch process is women are not afraid to wear color,” she said. “They want to express themselves through makeup, but they don’t want their makeup to feel too heavy on the skin.” Thus, Scalamandre ensured the new lipsticks, eyeshadows and more were performance-packed, but light to the touch and feel.
To create even more excitement around the color cosmetics launch, Scalamandre utilized a newer marketing strategy for the company: tapping a bevy of influencers. To boot, 200 macro- and micro-influencers were seeded the new product, 40,000 micro-influencers were invited to Sephoras around the country for in-store activations and reviews, and another 15,000 influencers were geo-targeted during New York Fashion Week for a pop-up. While all were novel tactics for the company, the pop-up in particular was a way for Shiseido to flex its experiential muscle — no product was sold in the space — as a way for customers to re-engage with the brand without feeling pressure to purchase.
As if Scalamandre didn’t have her hands full with Shiseido alone, she was assigned to be the president of Bare Escentuals, overseeing the Bare Minerals and Buxom brands, in June. Bare Minerals, which is in the process of closing company-owned stores, is using some of Scalamandre’s energy to its advantage in its “reboot.” Most recently, the beauty brand unveiled its “Power of Good” campaign with celebrities like Letitia Wright, Hailey Baldwin and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, hoping to further the ties Bare Minerals has within the clean lifestyle space. “Bare Minerals is the original creator of clean makeup, and the opportunity to express this is endless,” she said. So far, the campaign is working: The brand has increased online site orders by 20 percent.
As for how Scalamandre approaches the various brands and their respective businesses within the Shiseido Group portfolio, she strongly emphasized brand identity. “When working across multiple brands, I always focus on the fact that every brand has their own identity, their own set of values and characteristics,” she said. “Bare Minerals, Buxom and Shiseido are all very different than one another, with different character traits and very specific objectives within the beauty space.” — Priya Rao
As vice president of video, games and advertising in news feed at Facebook, Fidji Simo has had a active year at the social media platform. In November 2017, Simo debuted the company’s Creator App, which helps influencers grow their communities and build businesses on Facebook. And in August, Simo spearhead the international expansion of Facebook Watch, the platform’s video-on-demand service — at the time, Watch already boasted more than 50 million viewers a month in the U.S., according to the company. In turn, Watch has become a prime destination for beauty creators looking to expand internationally. The platform introduced shows like “Huda Boss” with beauty influencer and mogul Huda Kattan, and “#ComingAtU100” with influencer Dulce Candy.
What was the original idea behind video on Facebook?
The vision for video on Facebook was, and still is, to bring people together around the content and ignite conversations. Facebook Live — which started as a way to help celebrities engage with fans in more authentic ways and ended up being much broader than that — showed us what the experience can be when you’re watching content with others, instead of having a passive, solitary experience. It gave us confidence in making our video destination, Watch. Live broadcasts generate six times more interactions than other videos, increasing the opportunity for beauty and fashion fans to have richer experiences.
How have fashion and beauty brands and influencers responded to the increased video presence on Facebook?
FabFitFun just launched FFF Live, a new slate of live programming on Facebook Live featuring beauty demos, DIY projects and a gameshow. On Watch, beauty creators are connecting with their fans — Dulce Candy asks her fans what topics she should cover in the next episode of her Watch show, “#ComingAtU100.” Beauty creators are also using Facebook Live to complement their shows on Watch. For example, Huda Kattan uses Live between episodes of “Huda Boss” to take fans behind the scenes.
Why do you think this format on Facebook resonates with influencers?
The interaction between creators and their fans is critical. Huda Kattan and her sisters [Mona and Aly Kattan] were already [responsible for] the No. 1 beauty brand on Instagram, so getting them excited about Facebook Watch and interacting with their global community there was a natural step. Now, more than 4 million people have watched at least one minute of “Huda Boss” — the top five countries in terms of unique viewers are the U.S., India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, so it’s quite a global audience. — Priya Rao
With its first collection, including 40 shades of foundation, six shades of highlighter and three luminizers, Flesh Beauty aims to be a powerhouse of beauty’s Fenty era. Developed by Linda Wells, the founding editor of Allure and current chief creative director at Revlon (where the brand was incubated), Flesh has become an early hit, with its first product, a primer, selling out on Ulta.com in one day.
What would you attribute to Flesh’s initial success?
It always comes down to a really strong story, a point of view and excellent products. No matter what you do, the products have to be the best they can be. And they have to make sense with our story, which is about this notion of sensuous, inclusive beauty and style mixed with something very personal.
What were the biggest learning experiences you had when launching Flesh?
There are so many things I learned that I didn’t know, like working with suppliers, packaging developers and retailers. These are things that were never a part of my experience. But creating Flesh was so similar to what I did at Allure. Flesh is the expression, in products, of what Allure had been under my vision of it: that combination of practicality, purpose and absolute pleasure and self-expression.
How do you view the beauty conversation around inclusivity, and how it has changed over the years?
It’s a conversation about [what] beauty [is.] Beauty is so personal, you need to see yourself in the products and in the media and in the Instagram feed — you need to identify. It goes beyond having enough foundations, although that is crucial; it’s also about the whole product assortment, where you have all the highlighters for different shades and lip products that work on everyone. There’s also inclusivity around accessibility and messaging. People need to be able to use your products and not be confounded or confused by them. There’s also inclusivity of age and body type now. — Emma Sandler
Almost two years ago, Deborah Yeh, svp of marketing and brand at Sephora, helped the retailer overhaul its influencer program for its in-house makeup brand Sephora Collection. The goal was to refocus the marketing strategy on building long-term relationships. Under Yeh’s guidance, the program now refreshes every year with a new group of influencers, has expanded from four people to 10 since the beginning of 2018, and includes in-store meet-and-greet events with fans. “We have created a deep set of content on YouTube and we built out our Instagram content, and we have really started to bring these influencers deeper into our world,” Yeh said. “It’s been fun to bring together these ambassadors, who are really exposed to the consumer mostly through digital channels, and take advantage of Sephora’s digital assets, in-store [experiences] and physical experiences, and pull them together.” Following these recent developments, Sephora will now look at creating makeup collaborations with its influencers, taking the relationships to the next level. — Emma Sandler