The Beachwaver Co. has come a long way since the launch of their now-iconic rotating curling iron 12 years ago — and so has the founding Potempa sisters’ selling strategy. Their once-heavy retail presence has evolved to include digital-first tactics for growing awareness and introducing new products, and TikTok and its selling platform TikTok Shop has catapulted Beachwaver into the social-selling stratosphere.

According to Beachwaver’s TikTok handle, the brand currently has 1.2M followers and 13.8M page likes. Additionally, 1M-plus followers have joined the brand’s TikTok Lives, while last year’s Black Friday livestream garnered 45M likes alone. The brand has also garnered more than 200M content likes since launching on TikTok Shop in 2023.

These numbers alone are enough to draw the envy of other beauty brands – and sales statistics are even more jaw-dropping. According to the brand, in the past seven months the company has sold more than 331,000 Beachwaver B1 Rotating Curling Irons in the Midnight Rose colorway. Most of its exclusive TikTok Live bundles sell out within 24 hours. The brand boasts 20,000 affiliates who create unique content and earn commission from sales. Thanks to this performance, Beachwaver is consistently one of the top-selling brands on TikTok Shop – and was named 2023 Most Influential Brand of the Year in 2023 by the TikTok data analytics platform FastMoss.

Beachwaver’s biggest market is the U.S., specifically New York, LA, and Chicago. While TikTok serves as the brand’s best way to reach consumers on social, the age it targets is fairly evenly distributed, between 18- and 70-year-olds.

It may be that in addition to a savvy social commerce strategy, Beachwaver is in the right place at the right time. The hair styling category has emerged as a robust market in recent years, according to NIQ, with $3.7 billion in dollar sales and 12.3% growth over the latest 52 weeks. Notably, the average annual consumer spend within this category has seen a substantial rise of 8.7%, indicating both increased consumer engagement and willingness to invest in hair styling products, said Anna Mayo, VP of Beauty & Personal Care Thought Leadership at NIQ.

Making Waves on TikTok Shop

According to Leslie Ann Hall, CEO and founder of Iced Media, “When the beauty industry talks about TikTok Shop and the brands that are doing it best, Beachwaver is by far best in class.” Leslie also emphasizes that TikTok Shop has grown to become the 12th largest retailer in the United States, and beauty is the number-one category.

Hall attributes Beachwaver’s TikTok Shop success to three key factors: “Their early start, the frequency and consistency of founder livestreaming, and the intersection of churning out new products and partnerships with creators who tell that story on their behalf.”

Erin Potempa-Wall, Co-Founder and President of Beachwaver, said, “I am obsessed with the early adoption of growth opportunities like TikTok Shop. It was a new selling program, and we dove in alongside the TikTok team to figure it out. I was laser-focused on implementing and problem-solving TikTok Shop. We have phenomenal partners and as we stretched the limits of their system, breaking it with our volume, TikTok Shop also grew. It has been an amazing path.”

Beachwaver joined TikTok pre-COVID and was the first brand to opt into the original TikTok shopping platform in October 2022, which was essentially an integration that connected TikTok to the brand’s website — and took customers off the social platform to make purchases. Celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa, Beachwaver’s Co-Founder and CEO, recalled, “At that time it was cool because we were trying to get more traffic to our website.”

The news about TikTok Shop came in early 2023. “The tech was a big learning curve, but since we were the first brand in, we were able to help solve tech issues since we were testing the new shop platform live.” By June 2023, Beachwaver’s TikTok Shop was optimized and ready to go. “And that’s when we dove in deep and started our whole strategy,” said the CEO. “What’s interesting about TikTok is that there are a load of programs. We were the first to join all of them, and Beachwaver took part in every beta TikTok created.”

From Hall’s perspective, “The head start that Beachwaver had was really important because TikTok Shop tends to work like a flywheel, but it often takes a few months to unlock that momentum. I also think that founders who are really good at TikTok have an advantage.”

Building Community Through Livestreaming

Beachwaver’s programming schedule includes the reality-style “TikTok Shop Packing Show,” which drops on Tuesdays, where Sarah streams from the brand’s Illinois warehouse and pulls back the curtain on operations. During these live shows, customers drop their order numbers in the comments for a chance to have their packages assembled by Sarah live — and receive giveaways such as scrunchies, hair bows, and other Beachwaver accessories. Sarah believes that TikTok livestreams have been instrumental in building the brand’s community. “They know my brother-in-law, Tom, who runs the warehouse, and he has become a TikTok star himself. Our customers thank him for packing their orders. He went on live last night when I took a water break and sold 100 Charcoal Bars.”

On Fridays, Sarah hosts educational livestreams, where she launches new product and shows how to use it.

Since livestreaming has been so successful, Beachwaver is planning to open a filming studio in Manhattan where they will build out a mock hair salon to accommodate more education. “We want to bring in other hairdressers, creators, consumers, and just continue to share,” Sarah explains.

The brands that are thinking about TikTok Shop through the lens of partnerships, exclusives, and bundles that are not available on other channels are thinking about it the right way because TikTok makes it really easy. To that end, Beachwaver has formed collabs with brands such as Tarte where it serves as its unofficial hair care partner, as well as with model Iskra Lawrence and her body care brand Saltair. The Beachwaver and Saltair body wash bundle sold out in three hours.

“What’s so fascinating is that Beachwaver is competing and winning against some of the biggest and most established beauty brands in the world,” Leslie shares. “That’s the real democratization that TikTok Shop allows.”

To learn what content resonates best on TikTok Shop, and how to specifically target the all-important Gen Z consumer, be sure to attend CEW’s upcoming live event What Today’s Zoomer Wants From Beauty featuring two presentations (one by sparks & honey, and another by Skeepers) and a panel that features Ajay Salpekar, Head of Beauty, TikTok Shop U.S..