As clean ingredients in beauty products become table stakes, brands are looking at new avenues for growth and engagement.
For Gucci Westman, founder of Westman Atelier, the solution to grow both her nascent beauty brand and public persona lies in content creation. On Thursday, Westman is launching her own YouTube channel, where she will post beauty tutorials and product recommendations, alongside other wellness-focused videos. YouTube is already a saturated place for makeup tutorials and beauty content, especially among influencers and digital upstarts.
Westman hopes she can use the platform to fill a gap in the YouTube beauty world: living clean from the inside and out. It may also help her attract a young audience. As of May 2018, 85% of teens said they watch YouTube, according to a report from the company, 80% saying they use the platform to learn something. Statista reported that in 2018 beauty-related content generated over 169 billion views on YouTube.
“It’s fun to be able to be as transparent as possible and share some of the obstacles I’ve come across during my journey, creating this brand. It’s not as easy as people may think,” Westman said.
With the YouTube channel, Westman is hoping to take advantage of the growing interest among consumers in physical health, mental health and wellness, in addition to clean beauty. For example, from 2016 to 2018, facial cosmetics went from being 43% paraben-free to 54%, per a report from Nielsen. Westman Atelier’s line includes six clean color products and three brushes.
“It’s a natural progression that if you’re interested in those things in your day-to-day life, you’re asking questions about what you’re putting on your skin,” said Westman. “There is a space for that in the YouTube world. I want people to know what it looks like behind the scenes, what clean beauty means and why it’s so challenging.”
Currently, Westman posts many makeup tutorials on Instagram to the brand’s 31,600 followers via her #ThursdayTutorial series. One video on how to use Westman Atelier’s blush stick has over 12,000 views on Instagram. Another featuring the brand’s kabuki brush and the tinted highlighter has close to 19,000 views.
While Westman said she will use YouTube to promote products from her namesake collection, she plans to also incorporate other brands and focus on educational content.
The move will likely generate greater brand awareness for the young brand. Westman Atelier first debuted in July 2018, selling only at Barneys New York and Violet Grey. This January, the brand launched its e-commerce platform in the U.S., then expanded it in the U.K. in early June. The brand, which declined to share revenue, it received a minority investment from Prelude Growth Partners in May.
Westman is working closely with her brand’s head of creative content and former Vogue.com beauty director, Catherine Piercy, to develop a content plan for the channel. She’s also collaborating with YouTube on the launch. When Derek Blasberg, former host of “CNN Style,” joined YouTube last year to head up fashion and beauty for the platform, YouTube began working more closely with brands, celebrities and influencers to educate them on how to create premium content for YouTube, Blasberg said at YouTube’s Fashion@Google event earlier this month.
“What we’ve found is that a lot of brands treat YouTube as an archive for content they’ve created elsewhere, which is not the best practice,” Blasberg said at the Fashion@Google event. “YouTube is harder than other platforms. You need sound, you need production, an editor, you need personality-driven content. And what you get in return is obviously much bigger. You get an engaged audience that is twice as big, looking for inspiration or service.”
Blasberg and his team have teamed with hairstylist and founder of beauty brand Ouai, Jen Atkin (77,734 subscribers), as well as supermodel Naomi Campbell (142,775 subscribers), providing feedback and ideas to grow subscribers and connect with viewers. Other makeup artists-turned-brand founders are also seeing success on YouTube. Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, who was reportedly in talks to sell to Estée Lauder, joined the platform seven years ago and today has 711,957 subscribers. Some videos for the brand rack up as many as 2 million views.
“It’s taken me a while to process the power of social media and how you can really use it as a profound platform, in terms of creating a community. That kind of connection you can establish is really something else. It can add so much value to the overall brand, because we can be nimbler and react quicker,” Westman said.