Consumer reviewers, move over. The pros are being tapped for their opinions on everything from skin care to make up to dry shampoo.
The idea for a professional-based beauty e-commerce platform came about for Diego Aransaenz when he was shopping online for a pair of skis. The former finance executive and consultant realized that the reviews he was reading online were from people he didn’t know, and couldn’t trust.
“Skis and beauty products are both high consideration items and not something you buy on a whim,” said Diego. “Because reviews are anonymous, it’s hard to trust the information being shared. Beauty products are subjective and reviews are much less helpful. It’s hard to relate to sarah439. You have no idea who that person is.”
This month, Diego officially launched verapages.com, a beauty e-commerce platform that leverages the opinions of 66 in-demand professional makeup artists and hair stylists, who share their most beloved and trusted products. These professionals – most are based in Los Angeles and New York and are attached to agencies – work regularly on T.V. and film shoots, commercials, magazine spreads and on the red carpet. They include David Maderich, who has worked on Kate Hudson and Gisele, and Daniel Martin, who did the wedding day makeup of Megan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. The platform is essentially a peek into their makeup kits.
“Out of the maybe 300 products they carry around, there are 15 that are their go-to’s,” said Diego. “We started there.”
At launch, the site features about 600 SKU’s across 200 brands, encompassing makeup, skin care, bath and body, men’s, fragrance and hair. The professionals are free to recommend anything, provided it’s a product that’s easily accessible in the U.S. Since the beta launch a year ago, said Diego, popular brands include Charlotte Tilbury and M.A.C. Shoppers can find a lip balm for a few dollars, along with fragrances that are upwards of $300, although Diego said the average price point is between $30 and $40. Brands include Mixed Chicks, Carol’s Daughter and Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford, Chanel and La Mer.
In creating Vera – the name is based on the Latin word for truth – Diego said he aims to take the confusion out of online beauty shopping.
“There are so many options out there and so many brands that have carved out a niche in the market,” said Diego. “And although consumers are good at pulling information that’s relevant to them, the number of options out there can make it a paralyzing experience. Our goal was to create a more qualitative place to shop for products online.” Shoppers can select the pros they want recommendations from based on their style and aesthetic, or if they embrace green/clean beauty values.
Diego said he also hoped to take the bias out of online reviews; digital influencers many times have agreements in place with brands or are rewarded for posts that convert. The professionals on Vera get paid a flat 10 percent of the value of an order based on their recommendations. Fulfillment takes place via the individual brands’ e-commerce distribution centers
Ultimately, said Diego, he is hopeful that shoppers will trade in the flash and dazzle of an influencer’s Instagram page with a thoughtful post from an authoritative beauty expert about their most effective picks.
“Beauty professionals might not have the same reach, but they are the biggest experts,” said Diego. “They are able to recommend the right skincare routine or how to achieve different kinds of looks. Many already have a personal relationship with a customer base, and are used to people asking them about the best blush or lipstick. We wanted to cultivate this idea of trust.”