Covid has changed pretty much everything, including the way we experience beauty. We have become used to learning, buying, and buying everything about makeup and other beauty products virtually. Zoom lessons on applying makeup and hair care became the norm. Simply put, the business of beauty has changed.
Nobody knows this better than Natasha Cornstein. The CEO of Blushington, a women-founded leader in makeup classes and curated beauty products, is a case study that shows not just how to run your business when life throws you a curve ball, but how meaningful changes can make your business will actually improve now when the dust settles out.
âI knew that beauty would stay here,â says Cornstein. So instead of closing down the shop and waiting for the storm to come, she reinvented the brand. âWe did this with post-pandemic longevity in mind. How can we meet the changing needs of our customers, our beauty experts, and our curated brands during and after the pandemic? “
Their keen observation of changing consumer habits and the strategic decisions that ensued not only saved their business, but modernized the way consumers buy and buy beauty products. She has also started careers and has earned the earnings potential of more than 1,000 skilled makeup artists (60% of whom are colored and 95% are women!)
How the beauty business has changed
Consumers are now seeking personal relationships with beauty professionals. Thanks to YouTube tutorials and influencers, today’s consumers are much better informed than ever. They also want authentic relationships with trusted experts who know them and their beauty needs. For example, Blushington was inspired by the one-on-one business model of iconic brands like Mary Kay and Avon, offering personalization and relationships, but adding experienced, certified makeup artists. âFor our makeup artists, this is not just a casual part-time job. They build relationships with their customers and have a deep understanding of color theory, skin care and makeup, âsays Cornstein.
Consumers want more control over their surroundings. Social distancing and capacity controls have changed the way consumers think about shopping. Browsing crowded stores and trying products is of little interest. Instead, consumers are looking for unique shopping experiences. Brands that allow consumers to discover and buy products wherever they want – at home, in the office or virtually – get it right and meet their customers where they are.
Employees want business opportunities. The work-from-home environment has highlighted the flexibility and income potential for entrepreneurial beauty professionals. Hybrid platforms that allow employees to work both online and in person and generate additional income through sales are attractive.
Yvonda Smith, a Blushington certified makeup artist based in Atlanta, feels empowered by her ability to make money from her virtual storefront. âIf I advertise or recommend products to a customer, I can now give them the link to my shopping cart and they can buy it from me. This creates empowerment. âHybrid platforms also enable small town employees to access larger markets and generate meaningful income, both in person and online. Certified make-up artist Ann-Marie Mitchell lives in tiny Dexter, Missouri and is booked through October. âYou don’t have to live in New anymore
York or Los Angeles to be a makeup artist and thrive, âsays Mitchell. And she values ââthe flexibility in her schedule that allows her to be a practical grandmother for a baby expected in August.
Virtual employees still crave connection. While working from home or online is great, the staff still want the support of the community. âBeing a freelancer can be lonely,â says Britt Scott, a self-proclaimed âmakeup nerdâ. The Blushington Director of Artistry emphasizes the importance of having a community of like-minded people to share experiences, ask questions, and stand behind you. âNobody here has to feel that they have to have all the answers on their own – you have a community,â she says.
Beauty brands are looking for diversified sales channels. Even before the pandemic, makeup counters in department stores were ghost towns. Covid and related safety concerns only made the problem worse. Beauty brands are being forced to find new, creative ways to get their products to consumers. Expect more brands to put products straight into the hands of trusted makeup artists. This allows consumers to shop with confidence after trying the product and receiving a recommendation from a trusted source.
Brands try to limit risk and exposure. Most beauty retailers were started as brick-and-mortar businesses. Brands that successfully switched to virtual models during the pandemic are unlikely to return. âBy developing a virtual platform, we can get in touch with customers everywhere and certify make-up artists all over the world,â says Cornstein. Also expect creative partnerships like Blushington Beauty That Will Blo You Away, a collaboration between Blushington and Blo Bar Dry Bar. By training Blo Bar staff at Blushington Academy and selling a carefully curated edition of their products to Blo Bar -Locations created a great opportunity to expand the brand while limiting exposure and risk.
The pandemic has changed the way many industries work, and the beauty business is no exception. Fortunately, companies like Blushington allow women to do what they love on their own terms, with the potential for big profits. For brands, it offers new sources of exposure. And for customers … it provides a safe, easy, and familiar way to shop, and helps them look and feel good.