There is no telling if beauty has reached its peak celebrity brand moment. But Lisa Sequino, co-founder and CEO of JLo Beauty, said that doesn’t matter; her company doesn’t solely trade on Jennifer Lopez’s famous persona. In fact, Sequino said JLo Beauty is as much about pro-living as it is about Lopez.
“Over the past four years, at my old seat [at Estée Lauder Companies] — where I would sit and look at brands to potentially acquire [and see] where the market is going, where the customer is going — I always went to the same conclusion,” said Sequino on the most recent episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast. “Most companies are focused on a certain customer who’s younger, [ages] 18-25. They ignored the subset, which I became part of: the power 40- to 50-year-old. To me, [that consumer] is at the peak of their power.”
At 53, Lopez is arguably the most famous person exuding that power, making the thread of skin care and aging all the more impactful for JLo Beauty. Since launching in January 2021, the line, which is sold at Sephora and its own e-commerce site, has tripled in size, said Sequino. And it has over 1% market share.
“Any brand, whether it’s celebrity or not, if it doesn’t have a strong connection or reason for being with the consumer, it’s not going to be as successful,” said Sequino. “For us, one thing that rises to the top for Jennifer is her authenticity, in the sense of never giving up but also having a tremendous sense of self-worth, which took a long time for her to have and many of us can relate to. It’s about making a discernible transformation in people’s lives with an amazing product that works hard, feels good and makes a difference.”
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
Stepping into center stage
“I think a lot of people can talk the talk, but what it requires to run a business, whether your business is a $10,000 business or a $10 billion business, is grit. You need to be able to have the vision, but you also need to be able to roll up your sleeves and get it done. I’m getting knocked down and I keep going, getting back up; the resilience and the grit is the difference. I think the reason why Jennifer and I get along so well is we both come from self-made backgrounds. Nobody was there saying, ‘Oh, hey, here’s an opportunity for you.’ And nobody gave that to her, either. So [it’s about] overcoming doubt, having more self-worth, knowing that you deserve a seat at the table and, if someone’s not going to put you at the table, making your own. These are all things that I learned the hard way. I’m 40. Now, my 20-year-old self didn’t know that; my 30-year-old self didn’t know. I just wanted to keep moving forward. I was exhausted doing [night] business school, but I knew it was going to help me in some way get where I wanted to go and have a skill set or [be] given an advantage of knowing a little bit more … in situations that got really hard. And it did.”
A modern customer
“Women at 40 have a lot going on, so if [a product] is not giving an incremental benefit, then what’s the point? That’s really been our focus. We’re not a celebrity beauty brand; we’re a pro-living brand and a lifestyle business that goes beyond to make people feel great, look good and enable them to have limitless potential. … When you’re hitting 40, you don’t want to look older or like a grandparent. You’re dressing like most 20-, 30-year-olds. … I don’t want to be spoken to where I’m talking about anti-aging. I have all these great things happening in my life — give me something that speaks to that. … I did a ton of consumer research when I first started to understand who our customer is, and I’ll tell you that our customer is doing it all. She’s in her 30s, 40s or 50s, she’s got a job, she’s got kids, she’s got responsibilities, she’s exhausted, she’s lonely, she feels underserved — yet she still wants to feel fun and sexy.”
The three pillars of community
“We have a significant amount of owned customers that we’re able to tap into, given the size of our DTC business and the overall size of the consumers we’ve captured. We are constantly speaking with them, either testing new ideas or hearing from them about what they want, what they like and what they dislike, and about tensions, and opportunities in their life. It’s not just about the product, but it’s also about everything that they’re doing. There’s constant communication, community forums, in-person digital zooms, events — all of that, to treat our customer base like a family. The ‘On the JLo’ newsletter has been a rabid success because Jennifer has offered a very exclusive point of view on what’s happening in her life. … And the other community that we’re very, very proud of and we’re continuing to develop is what I like to call our Seriously Sexy Science community. I’m a big believer in women in all industries. I consistently meet with amazing, kickass developers, scientists, doctors and formulators throughout the world that are doing amazing things in beauty and outside of beauty, in wellness and longevity. We’re cultivating a community, a board and a squad, if you will, of these amazingly talented women who are doing things differently in science for the betterment of health, wellness and overall appearance, both inside and outside.”