The owner of the Parfum Selective company and the founder of her own brand Beautydrugs told Ksenia Wagner about the path to success, the secrets of Korean production and the toothpaste of the future.
- You have been distributing new brands for many years - makeup and not only. Tell us how the idea to create your own brand was born? What are your career milestones by this point?
- I started out as a boutique owner. At the same time, she herself stood behind the counter - she understood what expectations people have and how I can help. This experience in direct selling proved to be very important for my subsequent career.
The second stage is distribution. I began to meet with reputable people, with big brands, I entered the international professional level. At this stage, I studied what our consumers are ready to buy. The third stage was the study of beauty production from the inside - I integrated into many international exhibitions both as a participant and as a guest. And, finally, she has thoroughly studied our domestic market, the construction of the beauty industry in Russia, key players - both retailers, bloggers, and makeup artists.
- When exactly did you decide to create your own brand?
- It happened in 2012, when I arrived at the Anastasia Beverly Hills office, personally met Anastasia and spent some time with her. I understood the secret of her success and wanted to do the same as she did.
- And what is her secret of success?
- She is an absolute workaholic, for 20 years she has never gone on vacation. And in this we are alike. My family members have often accused me of not giving them enough time. And then they realized that work is my life. Women are born different, I was born this way, I found myself in work. And now they actively support and help me. And in Anastasia, I saw an even more fanatical person than me. She now makes millions a month. And once her partners deceived her, there were many difficulties, starting with the fact that a person emigrated from Romania at a conscious age, even without knowing English. But with hard work and a fanatical love of beauty, she achieved tremendous success.
We got Anastasia Beverly Hills for distribution in 2012 and didn't know what to do with it for half a year. No one knew the brand, no one perceived eyebrows as a new trend, but we were lucky - Elena Krygina appeared. She made two videos about eyebrows - and this marked the beginning of a furious boom. Our funds flew overnight. At the same time, Anastasia herself warned me that she would leave the international market in a few years. And I, watching the success of the sales, realized that it was necessary to prepare an alternate airfield. First, we distribute Senna, which is the second competing brand for eyebrows. But then I realized that I myself have all the conditions for creating my own brand: experience, financial side, knowledge of the market. I knew what disadvantages the products of each brand have, I understood what specifically I could do better. And I made up my mind.
- How did you start?
- My Koreanmania played a role. Having gone there, I realized that this production is much easier than it seems. Koreans can make any product in 45 days. By that time, we were selling a huge number of Secret Key eye patches. But at some point they changed the formula and started complaining about the quality of the product. That is, in general, 99% were satisfied, but 1% was unhappy and constantly wrote something somewhere. And I don’t like selling products that not everyone is happy with. It deprives me of motivation. I came to an alternative Korean production and asked, "Can you make the best eye patches?"
- That is, you had such a plan: 1) you conceived a brand that will replace Anastasia when she leaves the market; 2) At the same time, your trips to Korea and the success of Secret Key patches took place, did you realize that patches are a trend and decided to start production with them?
- Yes, I decided to make patches first. Of course, the first step is the hardest. It seems that everything is there, but often there is not enough courage. We ordered the first edition of 5,000 pieces and I was in a panic because we had never ordered so many of one product before.
- Where did the name Beautydrugs come from, who invented it?
- It was suggested to me by one fashion blogger whom we wanted to attract to develop our online store. And you know what you call the ship, so it will float. Now many clients write that our products are really beauty drugs.
- There are a lot of different manufacturers in Korea. How did you choose?
- I no longer had the opportunity to go to production, there are 1,500 plus or minus factories that make beauty products. Almost every day I received cans from different factories, watched, tested, read the compositions, connected a cosmetologist, a dermatologist, sculpted samples on everyone who was allowed and not. Moreover, the most grumpy were the main objects of my interest. And also make-up artists, I also dragged them into this intrigue to create my own brand. Make-up artists who help us create, then work on these products. Basically, they create tools for their job.
- How many manufacturers have you tested?
- I had about 60 types of cans. I understood that they are all about the same. There is one tricky component in our patches that may have decided the outcome. We sold a huge number of patches and we didn't have a single case of allergies.
- What happened after the choice of the manufacturer?
- I have an agent in Korea, it makes the whole process very easy. I approved the sample, they started the batch and after 45 days they provided the result.
- How it was? Here comes a jar to you, where did it come?
- When the banks came, of course, all clients were curious to try. We were all supported by orders. And the first edition was sold out rather out of curiosity. People wanted to understand how much they can trust us, how serious our intentions are.
- And how much did you sell 5,000 cans for?
- In three weeks. Then I launched lip scrubs, varnishes with fragrances (they were primarily invented for makeup artists - people who work with faces).
- Tell us about lip scrubs. How did you get this idea?
- I began to go to international exhibitions where manufacturers present new products. Basically, you do the same when you do distribution. You are looking for products on which you will build your main sales. If the products surprise you and you understand that you yourself would love to use them, then there is commercial potential.
So, I went to the manufacturers, smiled politely, but they read in my eyes "everything is wrong." When they saw that I was ready to leave, they got some kind of trump card.
Scrubs were offered to me by the Spaniards at the very end of my visit, when I rejected their lipsticks, blush, powder - I did not like anything. I told them: "Surprise me - show me what no one else has." And they take out a scrub and say, "Maybe this?" Because this is not the main product, it is not the product that the brand starts with. The brand starts with mascara, with foundation - with understandable things.
- But you started with patches?
- I generally did not start with that, we do everything wrong. How is a brand made? An assortment matrix is drawn up, and you fill it in for a year or two or three. When you fill it out, then you start the brand presentation. In general, everything was not according to the laws of this market.
- But you took the idea of a scrub from the Spaniards?
- They make us a scrub. The only thing, they had a choice of 8 scents and shades, we chose 3.
- And released under your brand - Beautydrugs?
- Yes. We were sold the formula, and they began to produce specifically for us.
- Then, finally, you moved on to the eyebrows.
- Yes, and with the eyebrows it was very difficult - we had to do better than Anastasia Beverly Hills. We started with eyebrow markers. And they did not produce them where the rest of the world produces.
- Where does the whole world produce?
- I will not say! We have a much smaller manufacturer. Why markers? Because Anastasia markers are a failure. He is red. Two colors - and both are red. Our clients didn't like it very much. We made a very nice natural tint marker. It creates the effect of natural eyebrows. It is made in Germany.
- That is, you put together a brand like a puzzle - something is produced in Korea, something in Spain, something in Germany.
- I bypass China. Because they can add anything to the composition there. They have no bans on ingredients that may not be registered in America or Europe. There is no trust in China.
- How much time has passed since the start of sales of Beautydrugs?
- One and half year. We received the first product in January 2016.
- What achievements are you most proud of today?
- We produced 50,000 cans of eye patches. More than a year. The whole world buys from us. It was first bought by Russians living abroad. Watching our bloggers. And then foreign consumers joined in.
- Who are these people who buy from you? Main audience?
- Customers of the store are makeup artists, craftsmen, people from the industry. These are stylists, makeup artists who look at foreign stylists and makeup artists, try to imitate them, or follow their recommendations. These are viewers of YouTube channels of famous bloggers.
- Now you are launching the highlighter. How is it different from hundreds of other highlighter brands?
- It differs in color and formula. We always choose the most expensive formulas.
- How do you manage to make money if your formulas are the most expensive and your products are not the most expensive?
- We have the shortest chain between the manufacturer and the end consumer. I work for the end consumer, not for the brand that invested the money.
- That is, in comparison with large corporations, you do not have many expense items?
- Yes, they spend a lot. There are huge advertising budgets, for example.
- And, probably, you do not bet on packaging?
- We have great packaging.
- I'm not saying that it is bad, but it is without any inlays, cunning prints, etc.
- Do you think it's expensive to do? It's not expensive at all. I just look at a beauty product as a consumer. I am a pragmatic and practical person. I do not like to throw money away. What's important to me is what's inside. In addition, if we do some kind of special coating on the package, it will take extra time. I have no time to waste. When I found the formula, I urgently need to implement it. I can't spend half a year while my banks are somewhere to roam these decorating companies. During this time, I can produce and sell so many products!
Plus our motto is to make the best products for the money you can afford. But this does not mean that we are counting on an audience of greedy and small-minded. These are people who think and know what premium products are. We work for consumers of premium products.
- If we talk about your efforts as the head of the company, about your time and all your resources - where are you now directing your resources more? For the development of Beautydrugs, for the development of other brands, for the development of an online store? Who do you spend most of your time and attention on now?
- You know, it's a matter of time and mood. The development of Beautydrugs is an absolutely creative process. Now we are remodeling trade equipment so that each of our stores looks beautiful, so that each of our customers has maximum support from us, beautifully displayed our brands. We have 300 clients in Russia and the CIS countries. We are in the "Golden Apple" chains, in all brow bars. We have a very strong distributor in Ukraine, very interesting in Kazakhstan. They are fans of our brand, because in Ukraine all the best salons work on our brands. In Kazakhstan, all beauty bloggers, many celebrities - I also see dynamics there.
- Your assortment is intensively replenished. Now you have released highlighters. And you probably already think what is next?
- Yes, the world's best toothpaste is coming out soon. We will make a paste that will be useful, first of all. It will be made in Korea, there are high standards and the most severe control, everything is regulated by the state. Anything that gets into the mouth should be at least safe. I won't say anything else. But if in the morning you want to kiss your husband before you run into the shower to brush your teeth, then you will write to me about it. You will wake up in the morning and your breath will be fresh. No pasta can provide you with this.
Interview: Ksenia Wagner