Trinny Woodall talks about building a brand she can live with the rest of her life

Trinny Woodall was well known and loved in her native UK as a style writer and ‘What Not to Wear’ host, long before she launched her makeup brand DTC Trinny London in 2017. But, Woodall, who acts in as the founder and CEO of her brand, does not see herself as an “influencer” who dabbles in beauty.

“I’m not really an influencer who started a brand. I think I always knew I would launch a brand, ”she said in this week’s episode of the Glossy Beauty podcast.

Woodall said her business was on her mind for at least five years prior to her debut, but actually started to take shape when she was a child. “From the age of six, I did makeovers on girls in my boarding school, and I think I had the virus so to know how we could transform what a person feels by these different aspects: in applying makeup, styling, dressing. I spent 20 years refining this.

The pandemic helped solidify Woodall’s point of differentiation. His brand remains uniquely digital – a saving grace during Covid-19 – and relies on its Match2Me technology which personalizes the makeup assortment a customer sees based on the color of their hair, eyes and skin. Last year, Trinny London hit around $ 62 million in revenue, and growth is on Woodall’s mind – but not necessarily in the same way others are increasing their market share.

“I don’t want to be a [founder] who walks in and says, “OK, here’s the forehead. Let’s see if the 28 different variations of eyebrows we can do [work], ‘”she said.” I think, because we have so much choice, it’s getting harder and harder to decide which woman you are and what you want to buy. “

Below are additional conversation highlights, which have been edited slightly for clarity.

A brand for individuality
“We built this algorithm on Match2Me to be able to analyze [you]. So out of the 150 SKUs we have, you could suggest 60 that really suit you. So from there you’d be thinking, ‘Do I trust Trinny London [and] that it suits me? So, this is the first thing you have to do – build that confidence. Trust is a very overused word, but it’s built on genuine authenticity in what you are offering a customer. So we decided not to use models on our site, we would use real women. We have a lookbook area, which is another way to narrow down what you want to choose. There are 140 women, aged 18 to 83. These are not retouched beauty photos; this is [showing] a woman and the 4-5 different looks [or ideas] she has. I think that also resonated, people could find themselves in the brand. When I grew up there were many brands that were incredibly influential and phenomenal brands. And you bought the brand, right? You wanted to be the Lancôme girl or the Chanel girl. You wanted to be that woman. And I think from the start we felt that our brand is about you as a woman. How do you want to feel today? Who do you want to be today? Let us help you make it happen.

A life of training
“From the age of six, I did makeovers on girls in my boarding school, and I think I had the virus so to know how we could transform what a person feels by these different aspects: in applying makeup, styling, dressing. I spent 20 years refining this. I have done a lot of TV shows in many countries – 16 countries… And there is a saying in Scandinavian and Dutch countries [that was true everywhere]. It’s like, “Don’t put your head above the poppies”. [The idea] is: Don’t be a big poppy. [In other words,] don’t stand out. I’ve dealt with 5,000 women over 20 years, just telling me what [experience] felt like they were, and that’s all that happened in Trinny London.

Prioritize customer loyalty
“It’s about the value and churn rate of customers for life. I think when you’re in a market where the audience is maybe a lot younger – and they go through things and then move on – you want to grab them, you want to develop more products and other things. You will reach a limit of people that you can access through social networks. So you think, ‘OK, let’s talk in store. There has been a bit of research on Gen Z who actually benefit from an in-store experience more than Gen Y. They were coming back to an in-store experience. So maybe it was a mix of those two things. I am not the CEO of [Glossier or Milk Makeup,] but looking from the outside, I imagine some of these things were happening. So for me, I felt like I wanted to grow up with a client who would become a client who will keep coming back. It may take a while to get into the mark, but once it’s there, it’s there. She has found a brand that she can live with for the rest of her life. For me, this is about building a business on bricks, not on uneven quicksand.


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