Melanie Huscroft, 46, is the Co-founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Younique, the first direct-sales company to spearhead a social media-based business model. Since its inception in 2012, the brand has attracted social-savvy women who have proven that they can build successful businesses and work from anywhere.
“Eighty percent of our presenters [salespeople] do the majority of transactions right on their cell phones by promoting products on social media and setting up virtual parties on their personalized e-commerce websites,” said the Boise, Idaho native, whose Co-founder is her brother, Derek Maxfield. In 2017 the company was acquired by Coty for $600 million; according to a SEC filing, Younique generated nearly $400 million in sales in 2016. It has been valuated at $1 billion. What’s its secret to success? Products tailor-made to individuals paired with a variety of customized boosters; virtual parties are another. “A virtual party has no limits to who you reach or invite,” Melanie said. “We provide the innovative and interactive tools and invite [presenters] to tap into their own resources and connections they already have.” The company has had many successful launches, including Moodstruck Epic Mascara, which in a little more than a year has sold 2 million tubes. Most recently, the brand announced a customized skin care range called YOUOLOGY, which can create up to 40,000 personalized combinations. Today the brand is available in 13 countries with more than a million presenters. Somehow, Melanie found time to talk to with CEW’s Beauty News for our 5 Minutes With… feature.
Beauty News: What’s your business approach to helping grow a successful company?
Melanie Huscroft: Innovation and staying ahead of the trends have always been our strength. We focus on big bets, like skin care, and core makeup products that are socially demonstrable. We want to put a big focus on digital innovation: creating digital tools to enhance the brand experience is our top priority.
BN: What kind of market shift have you experienced over the past year?
MH: The reason we created Younique is because we saw a gap in the beauty industry and the desire to have more personal interactions for cosmetics and skin care in the digital space.
BN: What kinds of trends are you seeing?
MH: The trend of inclusivity isn’t going anywhere, and it’s something we take very seriously, which is why we’ve been extending our complexion range strategically. It’s one of the reasons behind our new skin care line.
BN: What strategies are you using to reach a younger consumer?
MH: The fact that our presenters promote their businesses almost exclusively via social media positions us to be seen on platforms where younger audiences commune. Our corporate trainings also provide our presenters with new, innovative ways to connect to all kinds of audiences. Plus, we like to have fun with limited-time product offerings, when they make sense, that speak to trendy, cool beauty innovators.
BN: What have been the biggest surprises?
MH: We’ve found that most women want to be able to come back to purchase a product when they fall in love with it and that sometimes presents a challenge when the product is only available for a limited time. Because of this, we’ve relooked at the ways we offer limited-edition products.
BN: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?
MH: That our people matter most. Our company culture is very important to us, so we provide amenities like a state-of-the-art café with healthy options every day, an on-site spa to pamper our employees, and a workout facility that shows our employees their health and wellness is our priority. Care about your people, and they will care about your business.
BN: Greatest accomplishment so far?
MH: Younique is a mission-based company founded with the purpose of funding The Younique Foundation (TYF). We are committed to helping women who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse by inspiring hope and healing and raising awareness for this worthy cause. The foundation has created a facility, a restorative survivors’ retreat, to help them feel hope for their future. It has hosted more than 2,000 women to-date.
BN: Biggest mistake you’ve made?
MH: Supply and demand planning are essential for business growth. We are still learning as we grow. We launched our Touch Mineral Liquid Foundation thinking we had enough stock to last for six months. Three weeks into our launch, we backordered the product due to inability to meet demand. Never underestimate what presenters can do when they are passionate about a product.
BN: Best advice for newbies entering the business today?
MH: Lead with empathy and passion.
BN: What’s something no one tells you when starting a business?
MH: Something I wish I knew when starting Younique was the growing pains that come with rapid growth.
BN: What beauty product (not your own) is your favorite and why?
MH: I love Carol’s Daughter’s Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Hair Sheen, it’s my absolute favorite hair product, as it adds shine and condition to my dull and dry hair. Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive and it smells divine.
BN: What’s a mantra you live by?
MH: Women are amazing. Women have incredible influence on the world. I remind myself of my own influence and strength and try to bring women together so that we can accomplish incredible things.
BN: If you were to write the note found in a fortune cookie, what would it say?
MH: Plant the seeds that will make others grow and watch yourself flourish in the process.