Last month, Origins, the Estée Lauder-owned brand, hosted a surprise event for editors unveiling a major new color launch. “Guests were invited to discover something new but they weren’t told what brand it was,” said Julie Van Ongevalle, Global Senior Vice President and General Manager of Origins. “The goal was to tell them our brand story, without any preconceptions, from scratch. We wanted to take the opportunity to tell the story of our brand, through the beautiful story of our new lipstick.” Originating in 1990, the company was truly ahead of its time, basing its unique proposition on blending high-quality plant-, earth- and sea-based ingredients with advanced science to create high-performance products. Nearly 30 years later, natural, organic, even raw, is no longer considered revolutionary. Still, the brand is committed to staying in front of its competitors. Along with their new lipstick launch, Origins is the first in the Lauder portfolio to qualify for the “Clean at Sephora” category. Julie, whose prior role was Senior Vice President and General Manager at M·A·C North America, also specializes in understanding millennial consumers. For a woman who clearly juggles many jobs at the brand, she still found time to talk with CEW’s Beauty Insider.
Beauty Insider: You’ve been with the brand for two years, what changes have you seen happen within the beauty industry?
Julie Van Ongevalle: In the past couple years, we’ve watched the beauty industry become increasingly competitive as emerging brands populate the space. The barriers to entry in beauty, and all categories for that matter, continue to lower; as a result, today’s consumer is more educated, which is great for a brand like Origins as we are committed to transparency. Also, with the acceleration of online, we know direct-to-consumer will continue to change the space. However, we’re seeing that as online accelerates, consumers are seeking a sensorial experience; one where they can emotionally connect with a product and/or brand.
BI: Where do you see the biggest opportunity for growth within Origins?
With its rich, rooted-in-nature history, Origins is perfectly poised to continue to accelerate, taking advantage of the Naturals and Clean Beauty trends. As always, we’re focused on further evolving and amplifying our ingredient, transparency and sustainability efforts.
BI: What will you be doing for the re-launch, and why was it needed?
JVO: Origins has been a primarily skin care-focused brand, but, when we looked into our existing consumer, we discovered that our makeup drives incredible brand loyalty. Origins loyalists know how effective our products are; they trust the brand, and so much so that they incorporate our makeup into their skin care spend. Today’s mindfully-knowledgeable consumer isn’t just looking for Natural or Clean skin care, she’s looking for makeup, too. Going back to our roots and re-entering the makeup space with a fresh, nature-infused and inspired line allows us to meet our consumer’s needs. It’s also an opportunity to tap new millennial and Gen Z consumers and introduce them to the world of Origins.
BI: Why were lipsticks the first products to be released?
JVO: Today’s consumer wants their lipstick to go beyond just color application. With our new Blooming Lip, as with all of our products, we looked to nature for inspiration. Each has been formulated with 12 unique flowers. In addition to crushed flower petals and flower oils, Blooming Lip’s unique formula features reclaimed buttery flower waxes that have been repurposed by Origins from perfumeries, which discard flower waxes after extracting their scented oils.
BI: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?
Always be true to yourself.
BI: Biggest mistake you’ve made?
JVO: I actually don’t believe in mistakes – only lessons!
BI: What product (not your own) is your favorite and why?
M·A·C’s Mineralize Skinfinish is perfect for an instant radiant glow.
BI: Best advice for newbies entering the business today?
JVO: Be passionate. Be honest and authentic. Do what you love, and you’ll get there.
BI: What’s something no one tells you when starting a business?
JVO: How tough it can be. You truly have to prove yourself again and again to build credibility.
BI: What’s a mantra you live by?
JVO: La vie est difficile mais bien faite. (Life is difficult but it’s well done.)
BI: If you were to write the note found in a fortune cookie, what would it say?
Positivity attracts positivity. Negativity never brings you anywhere.