The last six months have been a whirlwind for LA-based influencers Marianna Hewitt and Lauren Gores Ireland. In March the duo released their now cult-status Summer Fridays Jet Lag mask ($48), a hydrating cream which quickly became the number-two best-selling face mask at Sephora just two short weeks after launch. Since then, the brand has expanded to all Sephora doors in the U.S. and Canada, and on September 4 they released their highly-anticipated second act: Overtime Mask ($44), a pumpkin-infused wash-off mask designed to exfoliate skin for a luminous effect. Here, some of the tips they learned when launching their successful indie beauty brand.
Establish the Brand and Build Trust
“When we first launched Summer Fridays, we had to share the story about the brand and who we are as founders,” explained Marianna. “Because people had time to get to know the Jet Lag Mask, there was a trust that was built leading up to this new launch.”
Both were established influencers with loyal fan bases – Marianna has 824,000 followers and Lauren has 69,000 – so the two promoted the brand launch to their communities and even tapped influencer friends, including Kim Kardashian and Jessica Alba, to help spread the word about the launch. Additionally, they shared personal, relatable stories for the development of the line.
“When I was pregnant, I completely changed my whole skin care routine, and nothing worked,” said Lauren. “When we were formulating we had a strict list of no ingredients, but we also needed the product to be really effective and I think that has really resonated with everyone.”
Out of the Box Marketing
Most of the marketing for the brand’s first mask was generated via social media conversations. For the first time, the duo is pursuing an offline marketing opportunity – coffee cups. During September, Alfred Coffee in Los Angeles will feature coffee sleeves branded with Summer Fridays’ social media handle and quirky slogans related to the two masks.
“We considered that we were going for coffee all the time and like us, our consumer is the busy girl on the go. We would even use coffee cups as props for Instagram pictures, so it’s perfect for social media sharing,” explained Marianna. “Alfred Coffee is in a great location close to Beverly Hills and Melrose Place, with lots of foot traffic. Having something offline and outside of a beauty retailer gives us the opportunity to reach people who may not know about our brand.”
Inclusivity is Key
“It doesn’t matter your age or gender, anyone can use our products from an 18-year-old to my dad who’s 81 and shares it with his friends,” explained Marianna. “It’s also versatile product, people can use it as a moisturizer, overnight mask, and as a primer for makeup. Plus, I think they really love that its clean and effective.”
R&D with Social Media Top of Mind
Both masks were created with social media sharability in mind and are housed in tubes that were strategically designed to stay put when placed on the table for photographs. The side-by-side photogenic qualities of the colors of the packaging was also considered. “The periwinkle blue of the Jet Lag Mask pairs nicely with the warm bronze hue of the Overtime Mask,” explained Lauren. “We always think about social and Instagram.”
The duo also uses social media to crowdsource ideas for the types of products to bring to market. “We’re asking our followers on Instagram what they want to see next and will be looking to them to help inspire us for future launches,” said Marianna.
Marianna will be speaking at CEW’s upcoming event, How Indie Brands Become Legendary at the Jonathan Club – Downtown LA in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday, November 28. She will be joined by Laura Nelson, President & Founder, ColourPop Cosmetics; Tara Simon, Senior VP, Merchandising, Ulta Beauty and John Twichell, Managing Director, Piper Jaffray to discuss how consumers discover and buy indie beauty brands in new ways. A cocktails networking session kicks off at 6 p.m, followed by the program at 7 p.m. To register to attend the event,