* While CEW Beauty News is posting daily updates on COVID-19 and how the virus and its consequences are impacting the beauty business, we are continuing to publish stories that covers beauty business as usual. This includes the below story that was filed prior to work from home and social distancing, that we feel needs to “see the light of day.”

Annie Bystryn joined Korres last year as Chief Marketing Officer, and stepped into the additional role of General Manager, North America in February. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Marketing at Becca Cosmetics from 2015 through 2017, where she led a socially innovative marketing strategy, contributing to Becca’s explosive growth. At Becca, Annie’s responsibilities included product development, brand and retail marketing, creative, and digital and social media. She was a key leader in the acquisition of the brand by The Estee Lauder Cos. in 2016. Prior to Becca, Annie held positions at Laura Geller Beauty, Anthony Brands, Fusion Brands, CLEAN and Cosmedicine. Here, Annie talks to Beauty News about the most valuable lessons she’s learned throughout her career, and how they’re being applied to her role at Korres.

Beauty News: What was your most valuable lesson heading up Becca?
Annie Bystryn: Start with the consumer, and never lose focus on her. At Becca, we developed an incredibly close relationship with our consumer. Leading with social media engagement, we communicated with her in real time about her dreams and needs — and invited her into the kitchen as we cooked up new launches.

We’re applying that insight at Korres today. Our MenoReverse launch is grounded in extensive listening to a huge group of consumers who feel neglected by the industry — women who are over 50 years old. There are 50 million women in the U.S. who are over 50, and frankly, they have been ignored. We unpacked their skin needs and created formula solutions to address them — and then crafted a message in words we knew would resonate. Korres White Pine MenoReverse is only the skin care line with technology that targets the underlying biologic changes of post-menopausal skin.

BN: What attracted you to the Korres brand?
AB: It’s been a long romance. I first interviewed for a role at Korres in 2009. There was no role advertised, so I found a way to get introduced. But J&J was about to get involved and it wasn’t a good time to join. Then a decade later, Korres embarked on a new growth strategy and I found myself with an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Korres’s appeal is deep. Greece is where beauty was born — and today, the extraordinary natural biodiversity of Greece powers our formulas. We know the consumer is not just looking for a natural brand, but a brand that delivers the full 360, including eco-conscious sourcing, sustainable practices, plant-based formulas that deliver real results. This has been the Korres story since it was born 25 years ago, following the conscience of our founders Giorgos and Lena. Korres’s special magic is products that deliver from a brand whose soul is beautiful.

BN: What have you changed/accomplished in the year since you started as CMO/GM?
AB: Our biggest accomplishment to-date is a holistic rebrand initiative that the consumer will see this spring. It started with re-evaluating our global assortment — we narrowed it to create a presentation of hero skin care products that will be consistent across the globe. Then we renamed each product to clearly communicate its consumer benefit in words she understands. Next, we created a whole new look for our packaging and our merchandising to bring our brand story to life, while making it more shoppable. And finally, we have a new website launching later this spring that will showcase our complete vision.

It’s been exciting to see our work come to life. On HSN in January, we launched MenoReverse and we sold out in under an hour.

BN: How involved are the founders?
AB: Giorgos and Lena Korres are completely hands-on — and it’s their vision that drives and anchors us. Giorgos is a creative and brand visionary — we work together closely to map out the development of the brand and the growth of our business in North America. Lena is our Chief Innovation Officer and a key business leader. She’s both an original Greek beauty and a chemist to boot. Our teams in Greece and New York work together daily to harness global consumer insights to grow the brand through an elevated, more shoppable presentation — and innovative products that squarely target what she’s looking for.

BN: Have you made exec changes there?
AB: I’m incredibly proud of the global marketing and digital teams we’ve built. What started as a two-person team in NYC has swiftly grown into an incredibly talented and passionate group of digital, brand and product marketers who are real experts in what they do every day.

BN: What is Korres’ point of difference?
AB: Born in an apothecary in 1996, Korres is all about Greek natural beauty, powered by science. Our products are home-grown and hand-made in Greece. For over 25 years, this brand has followed its conscious and was clean before it was cool.

The brand is rich in incredible stories. We work over 1,000 organic farmers and farmer cooperatives across Greece to help families make a living from the land while sustainably growing unique potent plants that can only be found in Greece. We know our farmers by name – and even some of their trees. Our formulas are developed by an all-female team of product gurus and scientists. Then our products are manufactured in Athens, in a facility that follows no waste principles, is powered by solar energy and uses water that we purify on site to 5X pharmaceutical grade. Our mission this year is to bring these incredible stories to life for our consumers.

BN: What keeps you up at night?
AB: Poppy, my six-month old baby. Business-wise? The ever-changing dynamics of consumer awareness, how she is searching for information and what moves her. We need to constantly question whether our marketing and engagement strategies are optimized for today’s environment. It keeps you on your toes but it’s also a lot of fun.

BN: If you could write the note found inside a fortune cookie what would it say?
AB: Kindness matters.