Beauty News: What were some of the biggest opportunities you saw when you became CEO of Function of Beauty?

Alexandra Papazian: On the digital front, with changes to Apple’s privacy laws, we had to continue to think about how to drive efficiency online while emphasizing our custom product offerings and the science behind them. We also prioritized storytelling. What we do is custom products, it’s not sitting on shelves, so how do you tell that story in a way that people understand the science, tech, and innovation that goes into what we do? We leaned heavily into our community, which ultimately led to the development of the next generation of customizable products focused on repair.

BN: Speaking of the next generation of customizable products, what can you share about SOS Custom Repair?

AP: Our new direct-to-consumer line, SOS Custom Repair, launches April 29 and addresses the needs of damaged hair. It has been in development for the past two years. Our online business is quiz-based: consumers answer questions about their hair type, scalp condition, and hair goals. You can even choose a formula with or without silicone, and we engrave your name on the bottle, so it’s very customized. But about 18 months ago, we discovered that people do a lot more to their hair than we realized. And we identified a real gap in the repair segment: many of our consumers experience heat, chemical or mechanical damage, and it was clear that we had an opportunity to better serve them. When you look at bond repair, it’s a one-size fits all solution. But if you have curly, thick, fine, or textured hair, you need something more specific to get the results you’re after. So, our revamped quiz [also debuting this month], reveals a damage score of low, medium, or high, and based on that, you’ll get personalized recommendations from either our new repair line or our core line.

BN: What ultimately convinced you that the world needed another bond repair product?

AP: Not all damage is created equal! Even someone with healthy hair has some level of damage. By listening to customer feedback through various channels, including social media, letters, ratings, and reviews, we were inspired to create something truly inclusive and effective for our diverse customer base.

BN: How did your audience factor into the go-to-market strategy for this line?

AP: We engaged with our community directly by hosting a casting call on social media and asked them to tell us their hair story, which garnered hundreds of responses. The emotional stories shared by our audience members about their hair experiences became the focal point of our product launch, shaping our messaging and approach.

BN: Your business model is pretty unique in that there’s both a direct-to-consumer (DTC) and retail component to it. How do both audiences influence the business?

AP: Having both provides unique advantages. DTC allows us access to customers, providing invaluable first-party data that informs our innovation strategy and helps us understand consumer behavior. On the other hand, when you’re in 1,800 Target doors, it gives the brand huge scale. Additionally, retail outlets offer a different type of visibility and the opportunity for in-person interaction, which has become increasingly important, especially post-Covid, as people enjoy the sensory experience of coming into stores and discovering fragrances in person.

BN: Your Target line is “semi-customizable.” What exactly does that mean?

AP: The Target line focuses on daily essentials for maintaining healthy hair. Customers can purchase a base shampoo and conditioner, then customize their hair care regimen by adding capsules for specific hair goals such as shine, hydration, or volume. This semi-custom approach is a more sustainable solution; it reduces the need for multiple products as it addresses various hair care needs in one bottle.

BN: Who are your investors?

AP: We work with L Catterton, who have an amazing track record in beauty. They made a strategic investment in our company back in December 2020.

BN: Are there any new retail alliances for Function of Beauty on the horizon?

AP: Maybe … I can’t really answer that, but yes. We have some exciting things in the pipeline for later this year!