For as many brands as Sephora carries — and as many influencer brands that exist today — it’s surprising that just a few influencer-founded brands are carried at the beauty retailer. A new addition, however, is joining the ranks today. Refy Beauty is the creation of influencer Jess Hunt, (1.4 million followers on Instagram) and her business partner Jenna Meek, already the founder of makeup and hair brand Shrine. Refy launched as a direct-to-consumer makeup brand just six months ago in November. The brand immediately caught the attention of celebrities and celebrity makeup artists alike — its fans include actress Shay Mitchell, influencer Desi Perkins and makeup artists Patrick Ta and Hugo Vango, all of whom fueled the brand’s virality. The e-commerce stock sold out in six weeks.
“Jess Hunt is known for her feathered brows … [and] Refy delivers bold, powerful formulas that help promote and celebrate confidence,” said Jennifer Cohen, vp of makeup merchandising at Sephora, in a press release. The brand, with its minimal packaging — Hunt’s name is nowhere to be found — launched on Sephora.com on Tuesday. It will launch in 320 stores across the U.S. and Canada on June 11. Sephora is the U.K. brand’s first international partnership.
Sephora has been building out its assortment of influencer-driven brands. The retailer carries a large handful of traditional celebrity-founded brands, including J.Lo Beauty, Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez, Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin. But the influencer brands it’s stocked so far have largely been from longtime influencers, like Summer Fridays by Marianna Hewitt and Lauren Gores, and One/Size by Patrick Starrr.
Hunt told Glossy she’d always wanted to start something but, as her social content is split between fashion and beauty, she wasn’t sure if she’d launch clothing or beauty products. She met Meek on a photoshoot, and Meek immediately noticed her extensive brow routine. “It was something ridiculous, like five different eyebrow gels, multiple brushes, and then a pomade and a pencil to do my brows every single day,” she said. Her followers, too, constantly asked about what she uses on her brows, so creating a streamlined but thorough brow collection made sense.
Meek was able to utilize her contacts and experience to help build Refy.
“I never had a brand that I was very loyal to,” said Hunt. “After speaking to Jenna, I realized that there is a gap in the market for a brand for people like me who are not incredible makeup artists, but want to have those insane makeup artist results.”
The same day, the founding duo started to plot out their brow-setting gel-wax hybrid, Brow Sculpt ($23), which has since sold over half a million units. It took over a year to nail down the formula, Hunt said. Because Hunt had formerly used multiple brushes to do her brows, and Brow Sculpt features three brushes in its single tube. The brand launched with three products, sold both separately and in a $57 kit. It just launched a subsequent three products DTC, including a cream blush in three shades, a cream bronzer in three shades and a universal highlighter. Those have not launched at Sephora.
Launching at Sephora is a dream come true, Hunt said — even though the store is not in the U.K., where she is based. Months ago, before the brand had even launched DTC, Hunt filmed a video she never posted, saying. “Hey guys, so excited to tell you all Refy is now available at Sephora.”
“I’m a big believer in manifestation,” she said. Sephora then reached out, within two months of the brand’s launch. The buyers told her they’d actually purchased the products themselves and they requested a Zoom call. “As you can imagine, I was just screaming with excitement. I could not believe it,” Hunt said.