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Clean or effective?
It’s a question that the beauty industry has tried to tackle for the last decade. For Tula, a probiotic-based, skin-care brand, it has attempted to combine its doctor-founded, science-backed approach with the appeal of being a modern, clean brand, said Savannah Sachs, Tula CEO, on the latest Glossy Beauty Podcast.
Sachs joined Tula in 2018 and has seen the brand through the rapid expansion of its team, expanded retail distribution and technological development, much of which transpired under a Covid-19 lens.
Though Tula launched with Ulta Beauty in 2018, its presence within the beauty retailer grew just prior to the pandemic. The brand launched its “Skin Bar takeover” in Jan. 2020. Although Ulta Beauty stores soon shut down due to Covid, Sachs said, “We retained our retail field sales team throughout the pandemic [and] cross-trained them to educate and serve customers via chat on our direct-to-consumer business.”
In addition to Ulta Beauty, Tula has also met its millennial and Gen-Z customer base on TikTok, where it has amassed 380,000 followers in the past year. “We have committed to being a positive force for change in the beauty landscape in social media,” she said. Tula’s commitment to unfiltered spon-con through the hashtag campaign #EmbraceYourSkin this September is just one way the brand has done so.
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
Clean vs. clinical
“The success and momentum have been because we’re uniquely positioned at the intersection of clean and clinical. It’s this idea of: Why choose between what’s healthy and what works? We are filling a unique whitespace as an entry prestige brand with our omnichannel strategy. [We’re] digitally native and social-first; direct-to-consumer is our top channel — it’s just about 50% of sales. And yet, [we’re] equally balanced at retail. It’s important as a brand to be incredibly transparent, explain your stance and empower the customer to choose what’s right for them in their clean journey. And one element that is important to us is that we do not fearmonger or greenwash or educate about clean in any judgmental way.”
Telling a different story
“In a recent survey this summer, we saw that, on average, our community says something negative to themselves 19 times per day. That’s more than one every waking hour. And less than 1% said they felt that social media inspired confidence. And that is what galvanized us to say, ‘OK, we need to shine a spotlight on this negative impact of our self-talk and inner monologue.’ We dedicated our first-ever brand campaign to unpacking that. We led with a full-page ad in The New York Times’ Sunday Styles section, and we launched a national TV campaign. We partnered with over 400 content creators and pioneers in the skin positivity, body positivity movement to convey this message — to shine a spotlight and force a conversation within ourselves in the social media landscape and as a beauty industry about how we can change the narrative.”
Skin care first, no-makeup makeup second
“Our customer wants to feel equally as beautiful with and without makeup, and that is our ultimate skin goal for our community. We launched our tinted lip balm called Lip SOS this fall, and that was one of the collaborations with Christina Milian, which we were thrilled about. That was our first foray into what we would consider no-makeup makeup as a category. Our Filter Primer is one of our top-selling products, and it’s this incredible complexion product that is skin care-first but gives you this gorgeous glow and no-makeup makeup look. Our customer asks us to be in complexion in a bigger way, and we’re thinking about what that looks like for next year.”