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Growing up in communities of color, Jeff Lee and Courtney Shields were both early to understanding the importance of diversity and inclusion in beauty. When they met virtually through peers during the pandemic, they instantly connected over a shared desire to create a multicultural collection of beauty products catering to all. Their mutual passions for making all women feel seen and beautiful birthed DIBS Beauty, short for Desert Island Beauty Status, in September 2021.
The co-founders secured $2.6 million in an initial funding round from Tula’s co-founders, as well as major stakeholders at private equity firm L Catterton, which also invested in Tula, and influencers. DIBS Beauty’s less intimidating and more inclusive approach to beauty also made it one of the fastest-growing brands in 2022, according to research firm Spate. Thanks in part to the virality of the brand’s hero product, Status Stick, average monthly searches for the brand grew to 2,470 in 2022.
“The mission of DIBS Beauty is desert island beauty status. It’s the makeup you would take with you to a desert island,” Lee said on the latest episode of The Glossy Beauty Podcast.
In January, the company reported 700% year-over-year sales growth. With expansion top of mind for the co-founders, creating new, innovative products and expanding to new distribution channels are the biggest priorities this year.
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
Converting influencer marketing to revenue
Shields: “The work the brand’s influencer team does to really know the influencer [is important]. … The more you know about the person that you’re actually talking to, and that you’re about to create a campaign with, the better you can target how that goes.”
Lee: “A big key, in terms of conversion, is how you present the product. The genuineness and the attachment the [audience] has [to the influencer and the product are all important]. People who consume this type of content on a regular basis can tell [if it’s authentic]. They have a ‘Spidey sense’ of whether the person truly loves it, and [they pay attention to] whether they’re seeing it on the shelf or on the sink in the background when it’s not being talked about. The customer has to be respected because the customer is smarter than ever, in a lot of ways.”
Revolutionizing the social shopping strategy
Lee: “We’re an omnichannel brand, and we’re designed to always be an omnichannel brand as DIBS grows. We’re also digital first. Social shopping is not going away. If nothing else, [social media] is possibly one of the most important touch points your customer will have with the brand before they make the decision [to buy], whether [through] Revolve or … brick and mortar. … In terms of the social shopping revolution, we are on every new platform. We’re exploring all of them, including live video streaming app Flip and Super Great, and [there are more] exotic platforms coming down the pipeline. We’re a small, scrappy team, and we’re very careful about how we leverage our resources. We’re going with partners that make sense for us.”