Was the BPerfect Megastore opening a PR disaster?

Was the BPerfect Megastore opening a PR disaster?

The Belfast born brand BPerfect Cosmetics owned by Brendan McDowell launched their first “Megastore” in CastleCourt Belfast on October 1st. This event was heavily promoted on social media across each of BPerfects online social media platforms, with former EastEnders star Jac Jossa attending to launch her first ever tan, tanning mit and facial tanner called the “Jac Jossa Collection”. Many famous beauty influencers such as “MMMitchell”, “Stacey Marie MUA” attended the store launch acting as the staff for the 4-hour opening. Combined each influencer equalled over 7 million followers.  The advertising and marketing carried out prior to the launch date was well executed with the BPerfect team launching their very own “BPerfect Megastore” Instagram page in which they provided every exciting detail about the store launch along with promoting the event on their existing Instagram, Facebook and website platforms . To compliment BPerfects Megastores launch, Jac Jossa and other successful beauty influencers all promoted the store opening night on their very own personal Instagram page, to ultimately bring more people to the not to be missed event.

The BPerfect team knew the megastore would attract many fans as they are a well-established brand, celebrities were attending and of course it was the launch day of the Jac Jossa collection. CastleCourt offered free parking to everyone, and all the BPerfect team arrived in a party bus to create an air of excitement and you guessed it, it certainly attracted a massive crowd. During these unprecedented times, Brendan McDowell and his team knew they had to be responsible and obey the COVID guidelines ensuring the opening was carried out safely and did not breach public safety guidelines.

As a further measure, McDowell posted on his personal Instagram, the megastores Instagram and on the BPerfects Instagram explaining that he had consulted with both the Public Health Agency and CastleCourt to put safety measures in place such as following the one way system while entering the store, wearing a mask in-store, or they would provide one for you, providing hand sanitising stations and a security team to ensure social distancing.

With all safety measures in place, what could go wrong?

On the night of the store opening, as anticipated hundreds of fans gathered from all over Belfast. Queues of people lined up for the must have beauty products and to meet the celebrity influencers, Jac Jossa, and of course get the all-important selfie of themselves instore.

However, the next morning BPerfect were slammed as a “disgrace” by other beauty bloggers. IRadio presenter Louise Clarke tweeted “How is this acceptable? As if it was ever going to be a controlled environment. Shame on the influencers who attended and promoted the event and massive shame on BPerfect for holding it. What’s with certain ‘influencers’ thinking they’re above Covid guidelines?” Ultimately, something that was meant to be a great achievement in the history of the brand backfired and ended up being slammed in the media as a “Total Disgrace” and “A joke”.

How could BPerfect come back from something so brand damaging?

Once Brendan and the BPerfect team heard about the backlash they received, a spokesperson for the brand issued this statement to the media “Before, during and after the opening of our new BPerfect Megastore, we made numerous public pleas to anyone shopping with us on our opening night to ensure they adhered to all social distancing guidelines at all times. This included asking everyone to be personally responsible for social distancing in the outdoor queue, wearing a mask when indoors, sanitising their hands and following all instructions from security.” Brendan posted on his Instagram stating that he was extremely sorry for any offense caused and him and his team really tried to make the store launch as safe as possible for everyone involved. A spokesperson for CastleCourt shopping centre said: “We thoroughly examined BPerfects event management plans and were satisfied with the measures outlined and the focused approach taken to address public health guidelines and to promote safety advice at all times”.

The BPerfect brand had to apologise to their fans. You could argue that it is not their fault as fans chose to attend the event having received the appropriate advice and knowing the safety measures in place. On the other hand, you could argue that their timing was off. Should a successful brand like BPerfect with hundreds of thousands of followers launch their first store knowing it will attract a large crowd in the middle of a pandemic?

The BPerfect launch is the perfect example of how something so exciting and ground-breaking for a brand can very quickly be torn to shreds by the media in the space of 24 hours.  I feel this was a PR nightmare because it happened during a global pandemic when the emphasis is on personal safety and social distancing. The brand cannot undo the damage but can demonstrate how they have learnt from it. I personally feel that despite the publicity drive for this launch and  given the unprecedented times we are living in, they  could not possibly predict the outcome, that hundreds would attend or even be interested in all things beauty related when social events  everywhere have been cancelled. While I’m confident the brand will recover, there is no doubt that their next move will have to be an outstanding PR success.

Tara Hamill is a final year student at Ulster University studying Communication Management and Public Relations. She can be found on Linkedin: @TaraHamill and Instagram: @TaraHamill.

The Secret World of Jeffree Star

Whether you’re into makeup or not, you will probably have heard the name Jeffree Star.

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Jeffree Star’s massive ego and personality undeniably made him one of the strongest names and forces on youtube, gathering a whopping 16.5 million subscribers. Even if you’re not interested in the beauty community, there’s no way you haven’t heard of Jeffree Star or missed his very public feuds with other celebs and makeup artists online.

The King placed back on his throne.

Jeffree Star’s past makes him one of the most controversial YouTubers of all time, you either LOVE him or hate him there’s no in-between. No one is perfect, even celebrities make mistakes. Jeffree made a BIG mistake, and in 2017 an old video resurfaced on the internet of Jeffree being a racist. Instead of Jeffree hiding from his past or hiring a major PR person to deal with the storm, he faced it himself. This revealed a lot about Jeffree’s character but it wasn’t enough to prevent the online hate and declining subscribers.

Jeffree Star was once the highest-ranked beauty guru’s on youtube until a younger more shiner version came along and knocked him right off his throne. Not for long though, poor James Charles came under fire from another beauty YouTuber considered to be his close friend, resulting in the loss of 1 million + subscribers in just 48 hours, putting king Jeffree right back on his throne.

His journey to creating a multi-million dollar makeup brand. 

Something Jeffree Star prides himself in is being ‘self-made’. Before Jeffree was a major makeup guru, he had a love for music. Unfortunately for him, this became short fated. It crashed and burned (for the best), but it wasn’t over for Jeffree. He then took his many followers that he had previously gained on a platform called ‘my space’ and combined them with his life savings to invent and create his first product line which was a HUGE success. Taking one of the biggest gambles of his life he said;

“It was either this was gonna work out for me or I was gonna have to go back to the mall… and work at MAC again,” – Cosmopolitan.

This was the first huge step Jeffree took in his career, but it paid off massively for the beauty guru. He then invented and created other product lines such as highlighters, foundations, eyeshadow palettes and so on, making Jeffree Star cosmetics the successful multi-million dollar company it is today.

 

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Money can’t buy class… 

It’s time to discuss the ‘Secret World of Jeffree Star’. Despite Jeffree Star growing a multi-million dollar company, he still left a sour taste in many youtube goers mouths. From his past to getting himself involved in many dramas and dissing Kylie Jenner, it didn’t matter how much money he was making, he was still hated by so many. People subscribed to Jeffree because of his rawness when reviewing other brands, he left no stone unturned. He went in on many brands, even his neighbor Kylie Jenner’s calling her products overpriced while throwing them in the bin. His dark humor left him very unliked in the beauty community, to the point where even people he considered his ‘friends’ turned on him. Even though Jeffree Star was rich to the point where he could cut a Chanel bag in half without thinking twice, he became not just unliked but unrelatable to.

What changed?

Jeffree Star met Shane Dawson.

 

 

So, who is Shane Dawson? In a world of unrelatable YouTubers and their Rolex watches, Shane Dawson is a beacon of light. Despite the fact that Shane has 15 million youtube subscribers and is considered an OG (he started his channel 8 years ago), he has stayed hilariously relatable and humble.

No one really knew what series 1 of the ‘Secret World of Jeffree Star’ was going to entail, but all I can say is it’s definitely not what anyone expected. Shane filmed a 5 piece documentary series on Jeffree’s life and without a doubt changed (almost) everyone’s opinion on the makeup mogul. Jeffree Star talks about many raw and personal things that he doesn’t share on his own platforms, all while giving a tour of his 7 million dollar closet. We see what Jeffree gives back to his fans, friends, and family, and it’s truly without a doubt it’s truly inspiring.

It starts with Shane taking a tour of Jeffree’s mansion in hidden hills and finishes with Shane surprising Jeffree to a visit of his first original apartment where he experienced some of his darkest times. Without ruining the documentary for those who have not seen it (highly unlikely that there’s many), Jeffree gets personal with money, business, life and let’s not forget his 6 dogs.  Shane and Jeffree’s documentary shook the youtube industry, and without a doubt helped many youtube goers fall in love with the ‘real’ Jeffree Star.

 

 

There was a massive want for a makeup collaboration between Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson, so fans got what fans asked for. They have just launched their ‘Shane x Jeffree Conspiracy Collection’ which covers lipsticks, eyeshadows, and more. It has sold to date 1.1 million palettes, and both youtube stars gained something amazing out of this. Jeffree received a massive amount of praise and acceptance from the internet and subscribers, while Shane received plenty of $$$ (even though we know he is merely interested)… Can’t relate.

 

 

For those who are interested in finding out more about the notorious Jeffree Star, you will be happy to know that Shane has just made and aired a second series called ‘The beautiful world of Jeffree Star’.

Let’s hope the tea is just as hot.

Rachael Diamond is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @diamond_rachael and LinkedIn @https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachael-diamond-31449b173

Colour Inclusivity in the beauty industry

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Make-up has been around for 7,000 years, stretching back to ancient Egypt when Cleopatra allegedly used crushed carmine beetles and ants to create the perfect rouge lipstick. For decades the beauty industry has been constantly evolving through producing new products for every inch of your face, discovering new formulas and the creation of new brands. It’s an ever-growing industry that is continuously growing more and more popular than it already was. Within the past 5 years the make-up industry has noticeably boomed and it’s became an even more popular trend that even your boyfriend can’t ignore. With thanks to the digital age I personally believe this increased popularity has been supported by the rapid growth of influencers and make-up artists posting videos on Instagram and YouTube. Influencers are consistently driving sales for brands through sharing reviews on their platforms to loyal followers, who then scramble to purchase all these products and further drive the consumer market in the beauty industry.

The beauty industry is rapidly growing with new brands, resulting in increased competition for the established ones such as, MAC, Nars, Benefit etc. therefore, the need for constantly releasing new innovative products has become more prevalent. It’s not uncommon to see the same make-up brand release a new eyeshadow palette every 5/6 months *cough* Morphe, Huda Beauty, Anastasia BH *cough* however, you can’t blame them as competition is so tough and consumers are always wanting more, especially better quality and a bigger range. In 2019 make-up couldn’t get any bigger, it’s a saturated industry with an endless list of brands to choose from. Majority of them have been around long enough to understand what works and what doesn’t, they’ve tried and tested every formula, they know what packaging works and they have a loyal group of influencers to turn to for positive reviews. Taking all this in mind, I’ve realised there’s one thing brands still aren’t getting right and that’s a colour inclusive foundation range.

To start I know you’re wondering how this even affects me for this to be a topic of discussion. We are sitting in Ireland where the opportunity for a sun tan comes around once every year (If we’re lucky) and my usual foundation purchases don’t extend beyond ‘Porcelain’ or ‘Ivory’, unless I’ve slathered myself in a bottle of dark tan lotion. However, in a time when representation for people of colour and other social issues are still a popular topic of debate, it’s always good to raise awareness and speak out when massive corporate businesses aren’t providing for an entire population; even when it’s something as a minor as make-up. After all, the power of a few voices on social media can make a difference – which I’ll cover later on.

 

The downfall of Tarte Shape Tape

If you’re a make-up lover I’m sure you’ve heard of Tarte’s popular Shape Tape Contour concealer, if you haven’t, well then… HOW?! Throughout 2018 this product was constantly on the lips of every social influencer or beauty guru. It was a much-coveted product with endless positive reviews and Tarte really seemed to have struck lucky with this one. However, this is the starting point for what got people talking about the non-inclusive culture in the beauty industry. Of course, this has been an issue when buying foundation for people of colour for years however, the Tarte controversy blew up for the fact it was 2018 and for a global and experienced brand to miss the mark that badly, showed it was time to talk.

In February 2018, following their Shape Tape concealer success, Tarte released their Shape Tape foundation *cue the eyebrow raises*. To the shock of the beauty community, Tarte announced they were releasing 2 formulas, one for people with dry skin and another for people with oily skin however, the big shock came with the fact there was only a 15 colour shade range and low and behold, only 3 shades for darker skin complexions.

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Tarte’s reveal for their hydrating and matte Shape Tape foundation ranges. Quite white if you ask me?

 

The uproar began and rightfully so, how could a multi-million dollar company founded in 2000 release a foundation in 2018 with a 15 colour shade range. Only 3 shades catered to people of colour (PoC). There was no way this could be excusable, especially when long-standing high-end brands like MAC, Nars and Bobbi Brown have provided extensive shade ranges for years – showing it’s not impossible to produce. blog post 1

Tarte were able to produce two formulas for their foundation but, they couldn’t produce more shades – how does this make sense? As you can see by the swatches, the representation for people of colour was abysmal. It clearly shows lack of care, awareness and attention to their consumer market. Why have they assumed these 3 shades are suitable for all PoC? It truly screams that Tarte had an evident bias towards one target market.

 

 

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Influencer Lustrelux expressing disappointment in Tarte for this missed opportunity for what could’ve been the biggest beauty launch in 2018.

 

Following the backlash on social media from consumers and influencers, Tarte were forced to release a statement. There’s no denying Tarte most likely did feel awful for their failed campaign and release, but we’ll always question whether they genuinely felt sorry for the right reasons. I say this because of their apology –

 

‘We all just got caught up in #shapetapenation and seeing your tweets asking for it… We wanted to get the product out as fast as possible, and we made the decision to move forward before all the shades were ready to go.’

 

My first thoughts that came to mind when I read their apology was, how could a brand evidently state that they favoured the release of their lighter and pale shades to cater to their Caucasian consumers before their PoC consumers? Why must Caucasian consumers receive priority treatment for the sake of satisfying a hype? Was a rushed release for quick profit worth alienating half your consumers? As I said before, we’ll never know whether they were sorry only because of the scrutiny they faced for their mistake. In my eyes this is a mistake that was hard to miss and surely one member of their boardroom alerted their team to this blatant snub.

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Following on from their statement, Tarte pulled their foundation from the market and planned for a re-launch with the complete 50 colour shade range. Unfortunately, the anticipation was never going to reach the initial reaction and people won’t forget. Too little, too late, I guess?

 

Fenty Beauty the example we all need

 The beauty industry was shook when Rihanna announced she was launching her own cosmetics brand in 2017. Little did we know she was about to create the most inclusive and iconic brand in the beauty world. Rihanna was quick to set the standard for what should be expected and provided by beauty creators in this day and age. Her first product was her Fenty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear foundation boasting a 40 colour shade range. Her brand ignited the much needed and long overdue conversation about how important colour inclusivity is and how empowering a brand can be for people of colour.

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My question to raise amongst this amazing feat is, why must it take a proud black woman to begin a conversation on colour inclusivity in the industry and why is she the first to make such a massive impact and set the standard? Yes, brands like MAC have created a wide range before however, in the past few years, new brands are constantly emerging and new products have been made. Consumers want to be able to shop around; not secluded to one brand. Therefore, make-up brands shouldn’t have to wait until a competitor has released an inclusive product to decide to follow suit.

Rihanna continues to do what Tarte initially tried to, as she recently released her Fenty Pro Filt’r Hydrating Foundation in 50 shades. Now offering her product to two different skin types to a multitude of skin tones.fenty beauty hydrating foundation

 

“I wanted to take Pro Filt’r beyond skin tone to serve all skin types. Nothing is more important to me than making sure that everyone feels included.” – Rihanna

 

 

 

It’s great to see the topic of colour inclusivity becoming such a popular topic of discussion in the beauty industry. It’s reassuring to see brands marketing their products with models of all skin tones and pushing for a balanced representation. On top of colour inclusivity, it’s clear that brands are pushing towards a more united front for body positivity and gender inclusivity as well.

A few examples of brands that are joining this movement are…

 

  1. KKW Fragrance

CEO Kim Kardashian has began marketing her products with photographs of women of all different sizes and colours to promote body positivity and the message that no body is the ‘perfect’ shape or size.

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  1. Revlon x Ashley Graham

Plus-size model Ashley Graham landed a make-up collaboration with Revlon where she actively promotes body positivity. We’re so used to seeing more petite models appear in beauty campaigns that we became conditioned to thinking this was the ‘norm’. Revlon have broken this ideal through an empowering and positive role model.

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  1. CoverGirl

CoverGirl made social media influencer James Charles their brand ambassador, promoting gender inclusivity in the beauty industry. This came at a time where men were breaking into the industry and showing, cosmetics has no boundaries.

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I look forward to the upcoming year to see how the beauty industry reacts to these ever-changing movements and the continuous breaking of ‘social norms’. The colour and gender inclusivity movement along with body positivity seems to be in full flow in 2019 however, there’s always room for improvement. The make-up world has a lot of work to do but, as long as strong and powerful women like Rihanna is around, I think we’re in safe hands.

 

Marie-Claire Leung is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – Marie-Claire Leung

The ‘Rise and Shine’ of Kylie Jenner

It is without a doubt that everyone under the age of 30 knows the infamous Kylie Jenner who has made her mark on the beauty industry. She was recently proclaimed as the youngest ‘self-made’ billionaire at just 20 years old but given her family background this term is debatable and sparked major controversy in the online community.

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As the youngest member of the Kardashian/Jenner dynasty, it is clear that she had a lucky start to wealth and fame that many cosmetic brands and people can only dream of. Before Kylie Cosmetics there was the hit reality show ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’, 12 years and 17 seasons later we have seen her life and personal growth projected on our screens. But Kylie became her own person aside from her family and built an enviable social media platform, with 151 Million followers on Instagram she is the 7thmost followed person in the world, alongside sister Kim placing 6th. So, on the marketing aspect of things she had already created her own brand and status even before Kylie Cosmetics, but the financial aid from her family and amazing looks made it easy for her to create her own business and become the woman she is today.

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There is no question that she is the ‘ultimate influencer’ and unlike a lot of beauty companies she only needs to rely on herself to promote and model her products due to her porcelain features and infamous lips, therefore saving money and creating demand as consumers will see every product on her and influence their decision.  This was unsurprisingly the starting point for kylie cosmetics as the ‘Kylie Jenner lip’ trend peaked in 2015 and is still the standard look for many wanting to get lip filler. Whether it is a new holiday/birthday collection, skincare or Collab with her family, Kylie Cosmetics has come a long way from the ‘OG’ lip kit trio, Candy K, Dolce K and True Brown K.

Although there is a major comparison between Kylies’ personal account (151M) and Kylie’s Cosmetics (22.4M), she is still ahead of her game with beauty giants such as Anastasia Beverly Hills (20M), Jeffree Star Cosmetics (6.9M) and ColourPop (8.6M). All of which specialise in their own products, but have expanded due to the pace of the beauty community, and its demand for new and out of the box products.

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Kylie Cosmetics is able to survive because of successful marketing tactics, and with her being such a relatable and influential figure to a demographic of 18-24-year olds they have developed FOMO. The ‘fear of missing out’ happens to so many of the beauty communities’ consumers as products are marketed on a ‘need to have’ and ‘limited quantity’ bases. An example of this is the very first sale of the original Kylie Lip Kits, the lipstick and liner set came in 3 shades and due to the hype it caused ripples on social media, and those ripples caused waves. The kits were sold out in 30 seconds and crashed the website due to extreme online traffic. With every purchase of a lip kit, girls were being sucked into this fantasy of getting the perfect ‘Kylie lip’. This set the bar for the company and over the years they have expanded into eyeshadows, highlighters, blushes, brows and skincare and became more versatile in such a competitive industry.

In terms of driving demand her brand was based in the US and created urgency from those in other countries to buy her products, meaning people were waiting in different time zones at launches and willing to pay more for shipping. She also used the tactic of pop up shops for the first 2 years of running Kylie Cosmetics. Since her products were only sold online it created a want in customers as it was a one-time opportunity to get her products and potentially meet Kylie, so they were inclined to go. Although she was known for her amazing swatching videos, the pop-up shops gave customers a real-life experience to try the products and not be stuck into the commitment of making a purchase solely based on images and reviews. This is an appealing aspect for her target audience of young women who most likely do not have the income and need to ‘try before you buy’ as her brand was not portrayed as being cheap or drug store.

Whether you gravitate to Kylie or her family, it is undeniable that her marketing strategies are simple but effective, and regardless of her pretty face she is able to connect with her fans and create such a strong brand image that drives demand. But on top of being a makeup mogul she has recently become a ‘meme queen’ with her hilarious line ‘rise and shine’ as she woke up her daughter in one of her YouTube segments, to which she trade-marked and merchandise was on her website within a few days. Further showing she is business savvy by capitalising on viral trends. It will be interesting to see how her empire develops as she recently sold 51% of the company to COTY, who deal with the likes of Rimmel and Covergirl, as well as other major self-care brands. They see potential in expanding Kylie Cosmetics and Kylie Skin into more in-store retailers around the US and internationally.

Chloe Light is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University.  She can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-light-358421172/ and Instagram @Chloe_lightbulb

 

From the table to the top

When I think about what I want to be when I grow up (I say ‘when’, but it’s about time I admit – I am grown) I don’t exactly know what it is I want to be, but it’s safe to say that if I was as successful as Sophia Amoruso, I’d feel pretty good about myself. Or better yet, who’s seen the Devil Wears Prada? I’d settle for being Miranda Priestly. But at the moment my life is a lot more like Andy’s before she got the really good bangs and the jeans that made her go from a 2 to a 10.

When I snap myself back to reality, catch myself on and accept that bopping about New York in Louboutins is a bit farfetched… I can take some little bit of comfort in the fact that some of the most successful business women in the world, turned their kitchen tables into booming brands and became leaders in their industry.

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Huda Kattan: Founder of cosmetics line ‘Huda Beauty’

The Huda Beauty story began when Kattan followed her lifelong passion of beauty and enrolled in a makeup training course in LA, resulting in gaining a massive clientele including Eva Longoria, Nicole Richie and even members of the royal family. She then set up her blog, HUDABEAUTY.COM in 2010.

So how did blogging result in Huda producing some of the best make up in the industry? Basically, she never liked any of the eyelashes she was using on clients. She was constantly cutting them up or stacking different styles on top of each other to reach the desired look. It was then that her sister, Mona, who had the light bulb moment. Why not create your OWN lashes? So she did. They launched at a Sephora store in Dubai Mall in 2013 and sold out the same day.

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From that very day the Huda Beauty brand has grew and grew, resulting in Huda being approached by investors, having been offered $1.5m for a 60% share in the firm in 2014 – which was turned down as Huda had her own vision for the company that she didn’t want anyone or anything to interfere with,

“I was so afraid of losing the magic of Huda Beauty if we took investment,”

During an explosive growth period, Huda Beauty literally couldn’t keep up with demand. Orders grew and grew, so much so that they didn’t have enough products to distribute, and they couldn’t even increase production as they didn’t have enough money to hire more staff. So it was in 2017 that Huda Beauty partnered with TSG Consumer Partners investment firm,

“It was truly a long process in finding the right partner for us because we wanted to partner with a company that really understood our company’s vision… but it has honestly been such an amazing partnership and they’ve allowed the brand to flourish.”

Huda Beauty is now the number one Beauty Instagram account with over 26 million followers, the 61st most followed person on Instagram.

Ella Mills: Food Author and Entrepreneur under the brand ‘Deliciously Ella’

The Deliciously Ella story began in 2012 whilst Ella was in University and had just been diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome. In the simplest of terms, she had digestive issues and chronic fatigue and was fed up with her medication not having any positive effects. This resulted in her hitting rock bottom both mentally and physically. Not really what any university student needs.

So she took it upon herself to find other ways to manage her condition and soon realized it heavily depended on her diet and lifestyle, in which she had to massively change. Although there were a few problems:

“1. I couldn’t cook.

2. I had no idea about plant-based food

3. I had lost all of my sense of drive and passion”

(honestly Ella, SAME)

So… she decided to combat this and used a blog as a way to keep track of her culinary efforts and people LOVED IT. Hits began to grow and her audience wanted more. She soon began hosting cookery classes and “supper parties”. Her blog successes resulted in publishing opportunities, with the first Deliciously Ella cookery book being published in 2015, becoming the best-selling debut cookbook ever in the UK.

She then met her husband Matt and it was a true culinary love story. They joined forces by using her creativity and his business mind to open the first Deliciously Ella Deli in Seymour Place, London. This lead to the launch of the Deliciously Ella food range including energy balls, granolas and frozen meals that are sold in over 6,000 stores in the UK including popular food stores Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Holland & Barrett

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Sophia Christina Amoruso: Founder of ‘Nasty gal’

From an online eBay store to the CEO of one of the fastest growing companies, Sophia Christina Amoruso has had her fair share of success… so much so that she was named one of the richest self-made women in the world by Forbes in 2016. Sophia’s success story started at the age 22, when she started an online eBay store selling vintage clothing and other items, which she named “Nasty Gal Vintage”. She handled the whole thing herself, from buying the products, writing product descriptions and taking pictures of the products to share with her customers. Two years later she moved the store off eBay onto its very own website, rebranding as “Nasty Gal”

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This was just the beginning of Nasty Gal’s growth. Each year it grew and grew from opening its headquarters in LA in 2010, reaching $24 million revenue in 2011 (11,200% three-year growth rate) to opening their first brick and mortar store in 2014 in the famous LA Melrose Avenue.

Despite her evident success, Sophia’s journey was not smooth sailing as she called herself a “young, naïve founder.” Sophia stepped down as CEO of Nasty Gal in 2015, after admitting “she felt incompatible with the demands of being a CEO”. Soon after, Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy, resulting in Boohoo Group purchasing the brand for a whopping $20m.

Although it was the end of Sophia’s Nasty Gal journey, it was not the end of her. After stepping down as CEO, Sophia had time to reflect and wants to pass on the wisdom and hard-learned lessons. You gotta learn from your mistake, am I right? She used her own experience to help others and founded GirlBoss Media in 2017, named after her best selling memoir #GirlBoss.

“Girlboss is a community of strong, curious, and ambitious women redefining success on our own terms. We are here to inform, entertain, and inspire action through the content and experiences we create. We are unapologetic in our beliefs and values of supporting girls and women who are chasing dreams both big and small.”

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So yeah, as much as our biggest career goals may seem totally out of reach – if there’s anything that the twenty-first century constantly teaches us, it’s that business opportunities are literally at our fingertips. It only takes a blog or vlog to build a public persona, Instagram to forge a brand, and eBay to have a proper business from home. It’s not impossible and our idols prove that. I wouldn’t suggest giving up the day job…  but don’t give up on the dream either. After all, the expert at anything was once a beginner.

Catherine Maguire is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire

Business Owner at 18 : Promotion through Social Media

OM1At the tender age of 20 years old, one might ask what words of wisdom could a fresh-faced student have for a world of entrepreneurs? Well I can tell you that after turning 20 in June and going through a roller coaster of a year and seven months in business, that social media is your best friend!

After turning 18 in June 2016, I headed off to University, confident my life was on the right track. Prior to opening my business, I grew up making myself money. By selling my old clothes on eBay, cleaning anything I could around our house for extra money. I always enjoyed the idea of being my own boss. After completing 4 long years of GCSE & A-Level Art, I realised my passion was Make-Up. (queue many readers switching off).

I opened my own freelance makeup business in March 2017 at the rare age of 18 with possibly £200 to my name, a chair and a Facebook page. I had absolutely no clients and no clue how to get them. Now, over a year and a half on I have a big client base, my own premises and thankfully looking forward to the next few years, as well as being able to blog my thoughts on social media.

So firstly – 1. use Facebook as a promotional tool

I began posting up pictures of my work on my Facebook page to achieve higher engagement. In the first few months of business I done a lot of free work to get myself noticed in my area, to build a client base. I worked at a loss and I made so many mistakes. Facebook for me was a great client builder. I was able to post client photos, allow them to post reviews of my services and it formed a base for my business.

  1. Instagram is your best friend!

In 1 year, I gained over 6,500 followers on my Instagram page from posting content. Now I’m the first to say its not all about follows, likes etc. however in my business, I thrive from engagement. If you’re opening a business which focuses on visual aspects Instagram is where you need to be! Using Instagram as a marketing tool is one of the best and easiest ways to strengthen your business and interact freely with your audience. By using Hashtags to raise awareness & advertise your company.

For me many of my clients are young girls under between the ages of 13 and 20, so as you can imagine Instagram is the perfect place for me to grow my brand. Choosing a platform that connects with your target audience is the key to success.

  1. Post good quality pictures

Nobody wants to see blurry photos that look as if they’ve been taken on a toaster. Everyone on social media is upping their game which means you should too! Take a look at what your competition is posting as a way of bench marking. Studies show that users on Instagram decide whether to follow you or not based on the 3 most recent posts on your profile – so every post counts.

Try to take your pictures against plain (ish) backgrounds & make sure not to upload things nobody wants to see, try to link your uploads back to your business.

  1. Get Tagging

By tagging bigger brands, influencers etc. this encourages them to re-post your work which in turn gets your page more engagement, which is what counts. If your business creates products, posting pictures and tagging relevant Instagram accounts will help your account reach a larger audience.

  1. People want results!

For me as a makeup artist, I gain clients through posting pictures of my makeup on myself and others. As well as posting before and after pictures which shows your skills. This doesn’t just apply to businesses like me, consumers want to know that your product works / creates results before they’ll purchase. Sharing testimonials, reviews and pictures are a great way to show off your products/services on social media.

  1. Choose your social media according to your audience

For me, I want to target all ages. I post on Instagram, Facebook & Snapchat, each for different reasons. I find the older generation use Facebook more than Instagram and this is my method for advertising to an older clientele. Younger people follow me on Instagram and snapchat, therefore I market myself differently due to the difference in followers. With snapchat I feel I can be more open as its not as public as the likes of Instagram & Facebook, however I find snapchat to be the most effective in terms of selling power.

 

So, I hope you might have gained some insight into the world of social media, for me social media has changed the way we are able to promote ourselves and business. It has enabled us to target different people in ways that are engaging to them.

Olivia McVeigh is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – @oliviamcveigh_ ; Linkedin – Olivia McVeigh ; WordPress – https://oliviamcveigh.wordpress.com/blog/ ; Twitter – @McveighOlivia

 

Keeping up with Kylie’s PR Blunders

Kylie Jenner has been in the public eye since she was ten years old, but in 2016 when she launched her own cosmetics brand, she finally began to hold her own in the spotlight.

Of course, something that comes with every business venture that any of the Kardiashian/Jenners embark on, is bad publicity, and this was no different for the youngest of the clan.

From the very beginning of the brand, there has been constant backlash of everything that the young entrepreneur has launched. Not long after the first LipKit launch, beauty vloggers began to review the first of the products, and gave very honest, very brutal reviews.

Not only had the products themselves been receiving the awful feedback, the company itself had been getting dogged with complaints of missing products, with customers waiting months and months for their order to arrive, some customers even contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for advice. The BBB website actually displays information about the complaints it’s received of different companies, and of the 136 complaints filed about Kylie Cosmetics, the majority fell under the categories of delivery issues and problems with the products. During this first major PR blunder, the BBB first rated them an F, which then changed to a NR (no rating).

Not exactly great PR for an up and coming business. The company has since had their rating improved to a B, but the negative reviews from customers still overpower the positive, out of 348 reviews, 199 of them are negative, a whopping 57%.

“I placed an order on 12/2/17 for the Koko set for my niece and they have yet to send it out. I have e-mailed them on the 7th but receive a generic response that didn’t answer any of my questions. There is no customer service backing this product . I don’t understand how they are at a B+?”
“I purchased the KoKo Collection lipsticks on 10/24 at around 9:22 p.m. After doing some research on the colors I decided they wouldn’t be a good fit and at around 9:45 p.m. I emailed Kylie’s customer service to cancel my order. I received a response on 10/27 informing me that my order was already placed and I couldn’t cancel my order. I somehow was hopeful that I would be able to use some of the product if not all. Well yesterday (10/30) I received the ripped kit with used lipsticks which was clearly returned by another customer. I emailed customer service right away and provided pictures of the used lipstick tubes and broken package. Customer service got back to me today and notified me that they didn’t accept returns of broken products! will be tossing these in the garbage and will never recommend this cosmetic line to anyone. Buying products online without being able to swatch them is difficult enough and risky on the consumer and therefore buying from a cosmetic line that doesn’t do returns or refunds is ludicrous.”

Other than the ongoing negative customer reviews, the company has had no major PR mishaps in the last couple years. Until now.

With the most recent launch of her brand involving an entire new range of concealers, lipsticks and a brush set, 2 out of 3 of the products have come under fire on the Internet.

Firstly, a lot of the make-up community have criticized the make-up mogul for copying Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty brand with the new concealers. Before the Fenty Beauty launch a few months ago, not many brands had put out products that was inclusive of all skin tones across the board, and this is why Kylie’s concealers have had backlash. Many believe that Kylie has copied Rihanna’s shade range. So, I suppose you could be criticized for worse things than being racially inclusive, right?

However, another criticism of the same product is that Kylie Cosmetics is developed in the same factory as much cheaper e-commerce brand ColourPop, so many are slating the concealers for being the exact same as the ones ColourPop released not so long ago, just with Kylie’s name on it.

Kylie Cosmetics, for the first time since launching in 2016, also released set of brushes, sold separately and as a collective on the website. The collection includes 16, silver/chrome “real hair” brushes, which according to the reviews made by beauty vloggers in the last week, perform well. Although, the thing on everyone’s mind is not how they perform, or how they look, it’s the whopping $360 price tag.

Controversial make-up artist and owner of cosmetic brand Jeffree Star Cosmetics, Jeffree Star published his very honest and brutal opinion of the brushes as soon as the brushes were available to purchase. In a review posted to his youtube channel, Star first of all, described the ‘silver brush roll’ that the brushes came in as ‘tin foil’. He stated to his fans that for what you’re getting, and paying $360 (plus tax and shipping), you’re really paying for a over-hyped celebrity name.

And many other YouTube famous make-up experts seem to agree with this opinion.

Kylie Jenner took to Twitter to defend the price tag, and compared her brush set to the sets released by legendary make-up brands such as MAC, Artis and Kevyn Aucoin, which actually made things worse for Kylie, as many believe someone who has only been in the make-up industry for a few years, simply cannot compare her products to those luxury brands that have been around for a lifetime.

It would seem that Kylie Cosmetics, and maybe Kylie Jenner in general, need a PR professional, and stat.

Hollie Thomson is a final year BSc student in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/holliethomson/ or Facebook: Hollie Thomson

Being Cruel to be Cool- Exploring makeup for those that love animals

Being Cruel to be Cool- Exploring makeup for those that love animals

How do you feel about animal testing? Have you ever heard of it? Let’s begin with a fact: I have always been a bit of a makeup snob. When I first dipped my toe into this colourful world, I would have turned my nose up quite quickly at lower-priced drugstore brands. My personal goal was to own the entirety of Bourjois Paris makeup. My reasoning was very simple; it was French, it was chic and most importantly, they make Chanel makeup and because I couldn’t afford luxury lipstick on a pocket money budget, I settled on second best. But several hundred pounds worth of products later, I have moved on. I voyaged out further from just Bourjois Paris. I went to Kiko Milano, Rimmel London and even ventured across the water to Maybelline New York. Though, many others are still very selective when it comes to shopping for cosmetics.

Cruelty-free products are becoming more about a choice rather than a suitable option for the vegan/vegetarians lifestyle. Thankfully. These types of products are making a steady advance to greater mainstream audiences due to an increased awareness of animal welfare issues. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) conducted a public opinion survey in order to gain an insight into people’s opinions about animal welfare.

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As the graphs show, many believe that testing cosmetics and personal care products on animals are unethical, and a large majority believe such testing should not be allowed. This definitely reflects that there is an interest in the idea of animal welfare as 58% stated that they are likely to purchase products that were cruelty-free. Whilst this study was conducted in America, I feel like this really can reflect on a much larger population interest- the idea of anyone seeking animal welfare rights can be universal regardless of location and to back this notion up, on the 11th of March 2011, the European Union banned animal testing to both cosmetics products and their ingredients in Europe. Fantastic!

Let’s get down to basics; what is animal testing and why does it exist? It exists due to ensure consumer safety at the cost of animal welfare when a product is made, it is hauled through multiple tests in order for it to be deemed safe. It is tested for skin sensitization, skin or eye irritation as well as less immediate effects like reproductive development and inhalation toxicity.

Here’s an example for you: when a product is being tested for skin irritation, animal testing labs will apply the test substance to the exposed skin of a shaved rabbit. They then leave it for a period of time and “record if their skin shows any signs of redness, rash, lesions, scaling, inflammation, and/or other signs of damage” according to The Humane Society, a non-profit organisation that reviews animal safety. This test is usually done on numerous rabbits at once over a period of time to make results more valid. Should beauty be forcibly made skin deep for these animals? And yet, there is a simple alternative that exists. Cruelty-free organisations use “reconstructed human skin models”. These are grown in a laboratory from skin cells left and are the replacement to live test subjects. They highlight the potential dangers caused by a new product and are more accurate at predicting how human skin will respond to an ingredient or product.

And that isn’t the only benefit from using reasons cruelty-free products. Many everyday household brands are full of harsh chemicals, such as parabens and fragrance. For instance, aluminium is an ingredient found in antiperspirants that may be linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. Cruelty-free products provide a gentler, more natural substitute for our skin to absorb.

On doing a quick google search of ‘Cruelty-Free makeup’ for my research, I was hit with a vast number of articles-most about which brands are listed as cruelty-free. But that made me think;

  • Why do you have to check these lists in order to be informed?
  • Why do so few of these companies actually make that clear?
  • Shouldn’t companies be proud to be recognised as a cruelty-free brand?

Companies such as TooFaced Cosmetics, Wet & Wild Beauty and NYX Cosmetics are proud to show their support towards the protection of animals as they print the Cruelty-Free bunny logo onto all their packaging.

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Personally, a brand should not be approved as a cruelty-free brand unless they are willing to display it on their product’s packaging. For a lot of brands, it seems to be that you have to do the research yourself to find out information about their animal testing policy. I find this to be true with a lot of brands because nowhere on their packaging, mentions “cruelty free” or even has the cruelty free bunny printed on it. Which is ironic because most brands have been certified by both PETA and The Leaping Bunny Program. To name and shame a few guilty brands: Hourglass Cosmetics, Urban Decay, Charlotte Tilbury, ELF Cosmetics. I think this is an awful shame because I own products from each of these brands and would deem it an attractive trait for the brand to demonstrate its beliefs to oppose animal testing.

When looking at this issue from a PR perceptive, these companies are losing out in my opinion. Customers dictate the market. If consumers are buying into the concept of supporting animal welfare and begin to shop with a more to ethical mindset then brands with outdated packaging and philosophies will crumble. By tapping into this idea of identifying as a cruelty-free brand, I feel animal caring customers would want to engage more. By understanding that the consumer is now actively choosing cruelty-free over animal tested products, it should set alarm bells ringing for organisations to change their ways. Now I am not expecting the CEO of these companies to become extreme animal activists but I feel owning up to the title of an animal right supporter should be enough for customers to feel more informed and connect to the brand as they share the same beliefs. This can be as easy done as printing it on packaging or training staff on the company’s ethics.

Personally, I believe the more attention we give to cruelty-free brands, the quicker more legislation is brought in in order to protect all animals. China is a perfect example. With little to no regulations set in place about animal testing, there is no framework to ensure Asian companies will uphold these documentations. Therefore, companies don’t need to make an effort to ensure animal welfare is safeguarded which leads to a higher potential for abuse. And so, hundreds of thousands, probably even more-rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats are still subjected to painful tests each year to bring the likes of eyeshadow, shampoo and body lotion to store shelves.

If we can do our best to avoid cruelty-free brands through research and selective purchases, knowing which brands we stand by or boycott- then maybe the directors at these companies will get the message that all lives- from men to mice- are equal and deserve to be treated with respect. I hope that further awareness and rapid change to how testing is currently performed will change for the better- animal abuse is an ugly affair, so why should they be harmed in order for us to feel pretty.

 

Nicole Service is a third-year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicole-service-056016130.