Bringing professional makeup to the masses—and how it’s applied—has been priority number-one for Temptu since it first flirted with the concept about 10 years ago. Now, it’s taking on hair color, from roots and tips to eyebrow sculpting, and everything in between.
Temptu, a makeup company that caters to beauty professionals and makeup artists, was founded in 1981 but it took almost 30 years to launch a consumer division. In 2009 the company released its first at-home airbrush makeup machine, allowing novices to achieve a flawless finish with changeable foundations, blushes, bronzers and highlighters.
At the helm of this creativity was Samantha Mandor, the company’s CCO.
“I was not a makeup person. I was a book editor who was airbrushed by a makeup artist for my wedding and I loved the way it looked,” Samantha said. “I knew I would never be able to get this look again because I could never use a professional tool.”
Back then her husband, Michael Benjamin, was running Temptu as a professional makeup house. He took over the company from the founder, becoming President and CEO in 2005. With Samantha at his side, and with the rise of high definition, the pair’s goal was to bring airbrushing to the consumer.
“I left my job in publishing nine years ago to work with my husband,” she said. “Though we kept Temptu very focused on the professional artist, we wanted to take the next step in terms of the at-home user.”
And they did. Though their first portable airbrush product offered something previously available only to pros, it weighed 12 pounds and needed an outlet. That problem was solved in 2015 when the company released Temptu Air, a cordless device weighing a mere 8.9 ounces with interchangeable airbrush makeup pods. It retails for $195.
This summer they leap into the temporary hair color category by introducing Temptu Airbrush 24-Hour Root Touch-Up & Hair Color, whose vitamin-enriched, non-powder based formula pods are just as easy to use.
Available in seven shades, the pods, which will sell for $35 apiece, can soften re-growth, refresh roots, cover gray, even offer pops of color for those wanting, say, blue tips.
“There are a lot of parallels between makeup and hair care. We really felt we could bring something new to the market,” Samantha said. “We knew we had something special when the clinicals came back indicating it was going to stay on for 24 hours and it wouldn’t rub off on your pillow.”
Aside from this being the next logical step for the growing company, they also wanted the hair category to work in conjunction with their existing product.
“We are adding more value to the device by broadening the number of ways in which it can be used,” she said.
In June they’ll release four pre-cut brow stencils, which will aim to give users the perfect arch. The Temptu Air will be used for that as well.
Presently, the company has seen 50 percent growth since they introduced Temptu Air, and they expect it to double their consumer business over the next year. In terms of pod-popularity, 5,000 to 10,000 are sold per month, with about 55 percent of purchases coming from new customers, leaving the existing 45 percent as repeat pod-purchasers.As the portfolio continues to expand, so do the number of places consumers can find the items.
“We were very fortunate and had a lot of options when we launched the Air,” Samantha said. “We went with Nordstrom, who’s been wonderful to work with. When we met with the buyer, she said, ‘If Clairsonic and M.A.C had a baby, this would be it’. And we thought, ‘Wow they really get us. They understand devices and they understand our pro-artist heritage.’ We also wanted an education factor. Even though we’re only in a handful of their stores, as an independent business it was really important to have that excitement and partnership.”
Instant gratifiers will find that the hair products will be available at Net-a-Porter and Temptu.com this June. For tactile lovers, Nordstrom will be the go-to department store in July, followed by Bloomingdale’s and other retailers in August. This year also marks the first relationship with Space NK, and Temptu will be carried in 51 of those shops in the UK.
Aside from the impressive launches that are forthcoming, look for six new additional foundation shades in July – another new formulated foundation line will be released this year, making it the company’s fifth offering.
There is, however, one challenge for the company: their DIY system makes sampling almost impossible.
“Sampling is challenging for us. We’re selling not just a formula, but an application method and that’s a hard thing to show people,” she admitted. “We can’t just give them a device to try. But our core consumer is smart, interested in trying new products and is willing to take a risk.”