Anastasia Beverly Hills founder, Anastasia Soare, was the eyebrow queen back when eyebrows were merely considered bushy arches over our eyes. Today, brows are a veritable beauty empire. In the 12-months ended February 2015, sales of prestige eyebrow makeup surged 34% to hit $158.1 million, accounting for 13% of total eye makeup sales in the country, according to The NPD Group. Browbeating bigger beauty players such as Clinique, Benefit and MAC, Anastasia Beverly Hills topped all brands in brows across the U.S. But Anastasia isn’t content to simply reign over the curvy classification. She’s pushing Anastasia Beverly Hills’ territory beyond brows into full-face makeup, conquering categories such as contouring along the way. Here, Anastasia discusses the success her brand has had with its bestselling Contour Kit, its social media prowess and what the future holds.
CEW Beauty Insider: How did the Contour Kit come about?
Anastasia Soare: I tell my daughter [Claudia] and everyone who works with me to understand why makeup was created. It was created to use dark colors to hide certain parts of the face and highlighter to highlight certain parts of the face. By using shadow and contouring, you can fool the eye and create beautiful proportions. I started with the eyebrows, which is the first element of our face that can drastically change the proportions of the face. In creating the contour kit, we wanted to make it easier for a customer to understand. You can create a beautifully balanced, proportioned face. There were highlighters and bronzers before, but putting it together and bringing attention to contouring, that was so important.
BI: When did you release the Contour Kit? Did it sell well right away?
AS: We launched it on our website last May/June to educate our client, and it was such a hit. Then, we launched in Sephora, and we sold out in two hours. It was a phenomenon! Now, Sephora has started a new category for contouring. It is great because it teaches the consumer how to do contouring properly.
BI: Didn’t you expect the Contour Kit to be a winner?
AS: It took me a very long time, like 10 years, to make people understand how important eyebrows are. But now with social media, people are receptive. Women used to have very few options for beauty tips. Now, you open any device, and you are bombarded with news about beauty. So, the amount of information women have right now is unprecedented and I would definitely give credit to that. We have four million followers on Instagram. That’s because of the buzz created about and around the Contour Kit. Instagram helped us because we did a lot of education on the platform.
BI: Can you build further on contouring?
AS: We started with contouring, and we are working on bronzers and highlighters, as well as powders and foundation. The line is going to expand, keeping in mind the same platform that we’ve had of how to create the perfect proportions for your face by using makeup correctly.
BI: Do think contouring is here to stay?
AS: Absolutely, it is here to stay. It is like using mascara. You can use mascara now, and you will use it 10, 20 years from now. Nobody really talked about it before, but Jennifer Lopez and her makeup artist Scott Barnes used to do contouring years ago. Kim Kardashian re-launched that idea of contouring. She encouraged women of different ethnicities to celebrate makeup and contouring. I think that has led us to women embracing contouring.
BI: Anastasia Beverly Hills has achieved incredible rates of engagement on social media platforms. How have you done that?
AS: Three years ago, my daughter came to me and said, ‘I think we should go on Instagram. It would be beneficial for us.’ I wasn’t a big fan of Facebook, but she said, ‘Trust me. This will be good.’ I started getting on Instagram and I became obsessed with Instagram and Snapchat, and I’m exploring Periscope now. I think social media is the best vehicle for us as an indie brand to reach our customers instantly. But it is a full time job. I wake up at 7 a.m. and the first thing I do is reach for my phone and, at midnight, I’m on my phone before I go to sleep. Nobody handles my Instagram except for myself. It is important for me to listen to the customer, and Instagram gave me the opportunity to see what challenges they have, what they like and don’t like. People can feel it if you don’t do your own Instagram.
BI: What are some of your most popular posts?
AS: When I take a Snapchat with Kim Kardashian or Lana del Rey, of course, everyone goes crazy. I still work with my clients, and that gives me credibility. When I have Oprah Winfrey taking a picture of me doing her eyebrows, that is a big deal. It gives the brand a lot of recognition, and people know I’m still hands-on doing eyebrows.
BI: You mentioned Periscope. Do you want to participate in the newest social media platforms?
AS: I want to do Periscope because people can use it to ask you a question. I can do training on Periscope with my team all over the country.
BI: Anastasia Beverly Hills references other beauty brands, notably MAC, in its social media posts. Why do you do that?
AS: On social media, I don’t promote only my line. I don’t think it is fair to our consumers to only promote our products. I promote everything that I love, and I love MAC. I love Too Faced, and I love Lorac. We are makeup lovers and obsessed with makeup. It is very hard to not combine products.
BI: You have broadened Anastasia Beverly Hills into the makeup category. How has that gone?
AS: We launched the makeup line in Macy’s almost a year ago and, by spring, we will launch it in Sephora and Ulta. It has been such a successful launch. The concealers, the lip glosses, the lip stain and lipstick, we can’t keep them in stock. By next year, we will have a full makeup line.
BI: How would you describe the Anastasia Beverly Hills customer?
AS: We cater to the pro-sumer, I would say. They’re consumers who want to be pros. We cater to makeup artists or the people who want to become makeup artists. They have to really love makeup, and they want to learn how to do their own makeup.
BI: How large is Anastasia Beverly Hills in terms of revenues? Does it generate more than $100 million in sales annually?
AS: It is somewhere around there.
BI: Are you interested in selling the brand?
AS: No, not at the moment. We are going strong. We have so many things to bring out. We are free, and we can open our wings and fly as we want.
BI: Where do you see your brand in five years?
AS: I want to be ginormous. I want to be in every country.