It wasn’t long ago that many in the investing world just didn’t get beauty. Over the years, I’ve heard stories from founders who left meetings feeling demoralized after explaining their brand to a room full of stone-faced venture capitalists. (Side note: A good number of those tenacious entrepreneurs now look at those experiences as a blessing in disguise, because they were pushed to bootstrap their businesses, ultimately retaining more control and equity.)
But today, the beauty industry is in the midst of a gold rush of sorts — even in a pandemic — spurred by stories of well-capitalized start-ups like Glossier, Huda Beauty, and Anastasia Beverly Hills. In recent months, we’ve seen a surge of celebrity founders including Selena Gomez, Halsey, Pharrell Williams, Taraji P. Henson, and three more featured on the pages that follow: Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, and Jenna Lyons. And it’s not just the famous faces. New launches don’t seem to be slowing, at least based on the not-so-scientific analysis of my FedEx deliveries.
Despite this flurry of activity, stay-at-home orders certainly did hit some businesses hard, especially those that rely on brick-and-mortar retail sales or services. But this sparked creativity for some entrepreneurs, like Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, founder of New York City’s Chillhouse, who quickly produced press-on versions of the brand’s nail art looks. Not to mention the many beauty brands that pivoted to soap, hand sanitizer, and other items, as well as those driving digital and retail innovations.
In this issue, the first Allure has ever dedicated entirely to the business of beauty, we explore many facets of that financial ecosystem. Some launches have big PR machines behind them, but there are lots of other stories to tell, like the local braid salons and the 24-year-old TikTok phenom who can make or break a skin-care brand with Gen Z shoppers. And while we’re talking founders, we must include the queen of makeup, our legendary cover star, Pat McGrath. McGrath is the rare, true artist who is as much a force backstage at, say, Valentino couture as she is on Instagram. With her brand, Pat McGrath Labs, she has demonstrated that artistry and business success can go hand in hand. In the current beauty gold rush, she is the mother lode.
This story originally appeared in the February 2021 issue of Allure. Learn how to subscribe here.
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