Boscia co-creator and General Manager, Lan Belinky, who has been part of the Irvine, Calif.-based brand since inception in 2002, looks to her Japanese heritage for inspiration. “I was born and raised in Japan and lived there until I was a teenager. It’s where I fell in love with skin care,” said the 35-year-old who took on a permanent role at the company in 2008. “At boscia, plants are the secret to our skin care success. We use ingredients rooted in nature, plant-to-bottle formulas, that show results and feel even better.” Last year the company had a total reboot, starting with robust retail and market expansion, focusing on e-commerce and brick and mortar retailers in the U.S., while growing online sales in the U.K. and France. In early days Sephora was the brand’s exclusive retail partner. Today, the brand is sold in 24 countries, and in Ulta Beauty, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Riley Rose and Urban Outfitters. “Domestically we expanded 300% in less than one year,” Lan added. They’ve also increased their social media visibility and created new platforms. Somehow, Lan found time to talk with CEW’s Beauty Insider.
Beauty Insider: Over the last year, the company has made a lot of changes including market expansion and e-commerce reach out. What has changed specifically and why were these changes were implemented?
Lan Belinky: It has always been the founder, Gen Inomata’s, dream to expand both domestic and internationally and bring Japanese influenced and botanical science-based skin care to the United States. Last year 2018 was the perfect timing and truly became the year of expansion. We entered Sephora in 2004 and then in 2018 we began expanding into other retailers. We are so grateful for Sephora’s partnership – their merchant team really helped to develop us as a brand and helped set us up for great success.
BI: Since 2002 the company has grown quietly and steadily. Over the last year it seems there’s been a huge burst in expansion. Please explain.
LB: Because we had been exclusive for some time, retailers were hungry to have boscia on their shelves and online. And it has always been boscia’s goal to become an international prestige skin care brand. 2018 was the year!
BI: How are your goals different now than when you helped start the company?
LB: Our goals are to focus and strengthen our brand marketing and telling our authentic story as the leader in botanical science. To create brand awareness in the new retailers we acquired and cater to their different needs. And to have a strong social media plan – one that is genuine, inclusive, philanthropic and fun.
BI: What are some specific strategies you’re using to reach a younger consumer?
LB: Social media campaigns, rebranding and our overall brand messaging. Social media has become instrumental in our marketing strategy and is really the platform we utilize most to tell our brand story, ethos and content. This year more than ever we focused on produced compelling on-brand content that engaged the consumer. We also invested in brand ambassadors and have begun to build authentic relations with those that are truly fans of our brand, organically. Social media played a huge part in the growth of the Luminizing Black Charcoal Mask and stirred up the peel-off mask craze. We have products that do offer that oddly satisfying appeal. This really helps to engage new consumers on social media.
BI: Did consumers help change the new look of the band?
LB: We’ve been working on our repack for more than three years. We really thought it was time to refresh our packaging because of the importance that social media plays visually with #shelfies and sharing as a whole. Our packaging had not been updated in more 16 years so now was the time. Communication has already shifted to be in line with our clear, concise and fun messaging.
BI: What kind of market shift have you seen over the past year?
LB: There are so many new players now and new skin care brands are popping up almost every day. Throughout my time in the industry, I have never seen so many indie brands in mainstream retail spaces. Consumers are now savvy about ingredients so brands need to be more transparent with their ethos and ingredients.
BI: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?
LB: The tremendous impact social media can have on your business literally overnight.
BI: Greatest accomplishment thus far?
LB: Skin care can be life changing and fun and I love hearing the success stories that people have had because of boscia.
BI: Biggest mistake you’ve made?
LB: Not being communicative on how clean our ingredients and philosophy has been from the very beginning of boscia.
BI: What product (not your own) is your favorite and why?
LB: Briogio charcoal scalp shampoo – it’s simply amazing and there’s nothing like it.
BI: Best advice for newbies entering the business today?
LB: With so many brands out there, it’s easy to get lost. Have a voice, know your brand.
BI: What’s something no one tells you when starting a business?
LB: Everyone told me that starting a business was hard, but nobody told me how exciting it is to overcome challenges and learn and grow from the people you work with.
BI: What’s a mantra you live by?
LB: There is always a solution.
BI: If you were to write the note found in a fortune cookie, what would it say?
LB: I came across this quote and love it: “Just like the moon, your greatest magic will come in times of darkness when you have no choice but to trust your own power.”