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Thirty-one-year-old Dani Austin has been an influencer for over a decade, getting her start on YouTube in 2012. In 2021, she launched Divi, a hair-care brand with a focus on hair and scalp health and preventing hair loss. She has full ownership of the brand.
Divi’s first product was its hero Scalp Serum, which sold out within hours of its launch. It followed that up with a shampoo and conditioner made to “hydrate + restore.” The brand, which launched at Ulta Beauty in 2022, has been growing quickly. In September, when Austin made Forbes Top Creators List, it was reported that Divi had reached $23 million in sales to date, according to industry sources it reached more than $25 million by the end of 2023.
Recently, Divi geared up to launch its second shampoo and conditioner, formulated to be volumizing. To do so, Austin settled on an untraditional marketing technique leveraging her 2 million Instagram followers: She directly called some of her followers who’d left negative reviews on her first shampoo and conditioner. Though the new formulas, better suited to those with finer hair types, were already complete, Austin had taken the negative reviews into account in creating them, she said.
“People with fine hair, or with different hair goals or preferences, [found the original] shampoo and conditioner to be heavy for their hair,” Austin said. While some products, like the brand’s serum and hair vitamin, work for “anyone and everyone,” Austin said she realized that, for shampoo and conditioner, different options were needed for different subsets of the brand’s audience.
Speaking about “too heavy” messages Austin said, “I actually appreciated the feedback. … My audience is very kind; they’re not super aggressive. I think they honestly want us to get better.” Plus, without their feedback, “I wouldn’t have known we needed to do something different.”
In September 2022, one reviewer on Divi’s website wrote, “I love Dani and Divi, so I really wanted to give this shampoo and conditioner a try. I’m so sad because after one wash I will not continue to use it. I did not like the texture of the shampoo. I washed twice and my hair was GREASY when I got out of the shower. I use a pre-wash oil treatment and it did not wash it out (never had a problem with my other shampoos). The conditioner has a nice, thick texture but it left my hair feeling dry and straw-like. I thought maybe it was just a fluke and was planning on using it again today, but after reading all these reviews, I will not be giving it another try.”
It is worth noting that, on Ulta Beauty’s website, the original shampoo has a 4.2-star rating, an average culled from 1,386 reviews, 807 of which are 5-star reviews.
“As a creator-founded brand, we can connect with our community in a personalized and heartfelt way,” said Lauren Bonfig, Divi’s senior director of brand marketing. Bonfig said her team reached out via email to the unhappy customers and let them know Austin would be calling them.
“We wanted to get to know their hair type and invite them to [a January 7] event where we could redeem ourselves and introduce a new formula, to show them that we listen to them and value their feedback,” Austin said. “I was excited to win these customers back.”
As of this week, Austin had begun to have some of these calls. In some cases, fans emailed the Divi team members who’d initially reached out to confirm that it had actually been Austin on the other end of the line, Austin said. It took a moment for people to become comfortable sharing their negative feedback, Austin said, but once she assured them that they weren’t going to hurt her feelings, they opened up. According to Austin, she’d tell them, “We’re both gonna win, because then I’m going to be able to change and pivot and create something you’re gonna love.”
At the event, held at the Goldie & Co salon in Frisco, Texas, the brand hosted around 20 formerly dissatisfied customers, treating them to complimentary blowouts using the brand’s new volumizing shampoo and conditioner, which launched January 5. They were also gifted the new products to take home.
2024 is set to be another year of growth for the brand, which will launch several other new products in the coming months. “The new [volumizing] line will help us achieve our goal of 60% year-over-year growth in 2024, while scaling revenue from new product development by more than 5X,” Austin said.
In part, Austin owed the brand’s growth, which has come faster than she anticipated, to the before-and-after images customers have voluntarily posted on social media — including by “people who don’t follow me,” she said. Many of the posts feature the positive effects of using the Scalp Serum among people experiencing psoriasis, postpartum hair loss, greasiness, patches of thinning hair and damage from hair extensions. In addition to helping the brand grow, Austin said they’ve also helped to decrease the stigma around female hair loss and associated issues, which are infrequently discussed. “It’s created this cool sense of community,” she said.
Spate Trend Watch: Rainbow eyeshadow
Consumers are embracing the ‘rainbow eyeshadow’ phenomenon on TikTok. On the platform, where makeup enthusiasts are showcasing their creativity, the colorful makeup trend is earning 1.3 million average weekly views and recently saw an 11,187% boost in monthly views.
One unique interpretation of the rainbow eyeshadow trend combines cheetah prints with vibrant rainbow hues. Another variation, the rainbow tape eyeshadow trend, uses tape to outline the eye area for the application of rainbow-colored eyeshadows, leaving clean lines when the tape is removed.
Makeup tutorials have driven the online conversation surrounding the trend, with professional and self-taught artists offering step-by-step guidance for those looking to master the art of rainbow eyeshadow. “Brands have an opportunity to mold evolving consumer preferences by diversifying their offerings to resonate with expressive looks, such as a rainbow eye or even a vibrant rainbow lip,” said Yarden Horwitz, co-founder of Spate. “The introduction of multi-use products, transcending traditional facial boundaries, not only showcases a profound understanding of contemporary beauty preferences but positions brands as innovative leaders finely attuned to the nuanced demands of the market.”