Trinny Woodall, best known for giving fashion makeovers in the aughts, founded her eponymous premium makeup brand in 2017. Today, her brand Trinny London, is on track to becoming one of the fastest growing D2C brands thanks to a collection of cream-based, skin care/makeup hybrids; an easy-to-use online personalization tool; and a burgeoning global community.
For Trinny Woodall, helping women feel better in their skin has always been her number-one mission. After cohosting makeover shows such as What Not to Wear and Trinny and Susannah Undress in the early 2000’s (with partner-in-crime Susannah Constantine), and appearing as style and makeover advisors on Oprah, Trinny ventured solo to launch her D2C makeup brand, Trinny London, in 2017. In hindsight, becoming a beauty entrepreneur was an inevitable next step.
“My biggest research moment in 20 years—having done makeovers on more than 3,000 women—was them saying how difficult it was going to the makeup counter with the number of choices before them. I wanted to come up with something where I could help them decide what makeup suits them. That’s what I felt was lacking,” Trinny said, who serves as her brand’s CEO.
The algorithm behind the brand’s Match2Me technology delivers a personalized selection of makeup tailored to unique combinations of skin, hair and eye color that makes it easy for women to make purchase decisions. “I’m obsessed with color and the synergy between colors. One of the easiest ways to learn about makeup is understanding that everything has synergy. There’s a relationship between what you put on your eyes, your cheeks, and your lips. 75 percent of our sales go through Match2Me,” said Trinny.
Trinny spent over three years developing formulas before launching her brand, during which time she decided that the brand belonged online. She visited a number of landmark department stores in London every weekend with the goal of observing customers. “I went to Selfridges and did this visualization. I looked at how customers behaved, and really placed myself as the customer. And then I just woke up one morning and thought how I didn’t want to be in-store and I didn’t want to compete with any brands because what I was developing is so different. I wanted Trinny London to have its own space to breathe.”
Trinny London’s first investor was Jane Henderson, Global President of Beauty and Personal Care, Mintel, who also happens to be on the board of CEW U.K. (Trinny knew Jane as a fellow parent at their children’s school). “I sat down with Jane and explained that the brand is about portability in one’s everyday life, it’s about ease, cream-based products, really good personalization, and community,” she said. Jane was immediately sold, and other investors soon followed, including Unilever.
Today, brand growth is robust. The brand has grown three to four times every year since it launched. “We did 45 million pounds ($62 million) in 2020. We had done 30 million pounds ($41.5 million) the year before. 80 percent of the customers who were with us in 2017 when we launched are still shopping us. That is a key part of our growth, and I want to grow hugely in America. But I want that foundation to be solid. Currently we’re about 55 percent U.K., 16 percent Australia, 11 percent U.S., and then the rest of the world. We’ve done these percentages organically.”
Trinny London ships to 157 countries, and currently has 160 employees, including 40 people in tech, and 40 in marketing. “We are heavy on content,” she said.
The brand’s multitasking products are packaged in stackable pots and are easy to apply thanks to their creamy formulation. “I’ve been obsessed with cream bases for 25 years, ever since Kevin Aucoin did my makeup. I was converted there and then,” said Trinny.
The brand’s two cult products are BFF Cream and BFF De-Stress. BFF Cream is a skin perfector with microencapsulated pigments that even out skin tone. BFF De-Stress, as the name implies, is a tinted serum that serves to reduce the appearance of stress on the skin while giving breathable coverage. It contains NP-TriOX technology with Neurophroline that manages the effects of cortisol.
“I hate marketing levels of ingredients, I want active levels of ingredients. I’m so fed up with the over-expectation you get from products that under-deliver because the amount of actual ingredients is so low. I just want to be able to stand up tall and say, ‘This is what’s really in the product, this is a price we’re giving it to you for, and this is what it’s going to do for you,’” said Trinny.
When Trinny says that she “really loves ground up,” it’s a reflection of her experience in front of the camera and her ability to generate personalized, intimate content on social media. “I feel that woman 30 and over benefit so much from a very emotive relationship with a brand. It resonates with her. As a woman in my 50s, I speak her language. We always talk about subjects that she relates to. The comments we receive are, ‘You’re more than a makeup brand, you’re a feeling, a way of life, an ethos that I want to be a part of.’ That’s our point of difference,” she said.
Community is indeed a powerful means by which Trinny London is growing supporters worldwide. Currently, there are approximately 28,300 members of Trinny Tribe. “They are fantastic beaters of drums. It’s about amplifying our message, and even more so as a D2C,” she said.
The brand is on a fast-track to growing and diversifying its product portfolio in 2022 and beyond. Indeed, for Trinny the definition of beauty is “to look in the mirror and feel full of life. I think that’s what it should be, not to feel tired or drained by life, but to feel energized to do anything.”