This story originally appeared on The Moodie Davitt Report, our content share partner. 

Too Faced, the feminine and playful makeup brand founded by Jerrod Blandino and Jeremy Johnson, made headlines when it was acquired by The Estée Lauder Companies in 2016 for $1.45 billion. This landmark deal marked the largest acquisition ever made by the company – a reflection of its belief in the immense potential of the brand. The Estée Lauder Companies President and CEO Fabrizio Freda called Too Faced “one of the most dynamic make-up brands in the world,” noting its “tremendous growth momentum” in the strategically important specialty-multi and online channels.

Too Faced can now add duty-free to its fast-growing distribution network, as it opens its first travel retail counter at New York JFK Airport, in partnership with DFS Group. Located in Terminal 4, the opening marks “the first of many travel retail locations for Too Faced both in the USA and around the world,” according to the brand. In an exclusive interview with Too Faced, Global Brand President Eric Hohl reveals why the brand’s ethos of “being your best self and having fun while kicking ass” will translate perfectly in the travel retail channel.

In keeping with Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer Jerrod Blandino’s vision, the space was designed to engage the senses of sight, smell, and touch. It will create “shareable and shoppable moments” with photo-worthy elements which shoppers can have fun with snapping selfies, as they discover the latest color cosmetics and travel-sized beauty essentials.

With this new shopping experience, Too Faced aims to recruit new customers and offer existing fans “an opportunity to purchase their favorites in a fun, new duty-free setting.”

The JFK location features Too Faced’s icon products in TSA-approved and travel-friendly sizes. They include Better Than Sex, hailed as the number one-selling prestige mascara in America; Born This Way, a range of complexion products comprising 30 foundation shades and the new Super Coverage 4-in-1 Concealer in 20 shades; and Hangover, a replenishing primer and setting spray infused with hydrating coconut water to help reduce the signs of jet lag.

As part of the grand opening celebrations, the Too Faced Pro Squad is offering makeovers to travelers at the JFK location until November 17. In addition, customers who purchase $100 of products will receive an exclusive Too Faced pink heart cosmetics bag.

With the landmark JFK opening, Too Faced – which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year – is now taking its “Own Your Pretty” brand motto international. And it believes that the universality of its brand message – of empowerment and freedom of expression – will help translate its US success into the diverse global travel retail market.

too faced

Too Faced has opened its shop within DFS at Terminal 4 at New York’s JFK airport

In an exclusive interview with The Moodie Davitt Report, Too Faced Global Brand President Eric Hohl says: “‘Own Your Pretty’ is about individuality and truly being who you are. We provide the tools for you to ‘own your pretty’ and want you to have the confidence to do anything you want to do.

“The key things that the brand stands for – empowerment, inclusion and having the tools to execute beauty in your own way – translate globally and we know that and see that every day. Our social media followers and fans come from all over the world. Travel retail has great potential for us and we’re super excited to be able to showcase our best-in-class products to the global travelling consumers.”

The latest count of Too Faced’s social media following shows 11.5 million Instagram followers; 3.0+ million Facebook fans; 736,000+ Twitter followers; 295,000+ YouTube subscribers; and 97,000+ Pinterest followers.

Hohl’s belief in the brand’s core values was instilled in him from the moment he joined Too Faced in 2008, drawn by its clear brand identity and his chemistry with the founders.

“I knew I was in it for the long run from day one,” he says. “The brand’s message of being your best self and having fun while kicking ass is powerful and universal, and I knew from the start that I could be a good support to [Jerrod and Jeremy’s] vision and help them build it into something much bigger.”

Since its launch in 1998, Too Faced has become a cult brand known for its high-quality, innovative formulas; tongue-in-cheek product names and feminine, glamorous packaging – a reflection of its brand identity as “a serious make-up brand that knows how to have fun”.

“The introduction of Better Than Sex mascara [in 2013] was a game-changer. We knew we had a hit on our hands but I don’t think anyone initially thought that it would become America’s number one selling prestige mascara like it has.”

Led by Blandino’s creativity, Too Faced has pioneered some of the beauty industry’s major innovations, including the first glitter eye shadow, lip-plumping gloss and 24-hour crease-proof eye shadow primer. Coupled with Johnson’s business savvy, the brand grew quickly into a multi-million dollar business selling in over 30 countries, with growth rapidly accelerating under Hohl’s management.

“Jerrod and Jeremy’s passion and vision for the brand, and our amazing and talented team are the biggest drivers of our success,” says Hohl.

“While we’ve always had great products, the introduction of Better Than Sex mascara [in 2013] was a game-changer. This was another major milestone for us. We knew we had a hit on our hands but I don’t think anyone initially thought that it would become America’s number one selling prestige mascara like it has.” The volumizing mascara, which took three years to develop, is now the brand’s top-selling SKU globally, with one sold every 7.4 seconds.

Another milestone that Hohl is proud of and regards as pivotal to Too Faced’s success is the brand’s strong social media following. “The rise of social media was very significant for us. Social media, Too Faced and Jerrod are a natural fit for each other. We’ve always played really well in the space,” he notes.

Blandino – a savvy social media user himself – often shares behind-the-scenes pictures and videos of the product development process, and has even announced surprise launches on Instagram, where he has over 275,000 followers. Consumers also regularly contribute digital content using brand and campaign hashtags, creating a sizable community of Too Faced fans – especially millennials – who love sharing about the brand.

The latest count of Too Faced’s social media following shows 11.5 million Instagram followers; 3.0+ million Facebook fans; 736,000+ Twitter followers; 295,000+ YouTube subscribers; and 97,000+ Pinterest followers.

Besides advertising on key social media platforms, Too Faced has also partnered with retailers such as Sephora for exclusive product drops as well as with online influencers. Its influencer marketing strategy has included collaborations with YouTube stars such as Jackie Aina and NikkieTutorials, paid advertorials and reposts of influencer-generated content.

For Hohl, however, the biggest milestone of all has been the blockbuster deal with The Estée Lauder Companies that has catapulted Too Faced into a billion-dollar company. While being acquired by one of the world’s leading beauty powerhouses is a pipe dream for many niche brands, it was never an unthinkable proposition for Too Faced.

“Honestly, I always believed that we had the ingredients to be something very special as a brand – great vision, people and execution,” says Hohl. “So I would say, if [a billion-dollar acquisition is] going to happen, it will be [with] us. I would also say that I’d want it to happen with The Estée Lauder Companies – there is no better ‘home’ for Too Faced given their heritage and dedication to prestige beauty and brands.”

The ‘home’ metaphor takes on an added layer of meaning given the fact that Blandino and Johnson began their careers behind the Estée Lauder make-up counter. The two founders referred to the acquisition as a “homecoming” for them, and underlined their belief that The Estée Lauder Companies’ commitment to their vision and “incredible world-class resources” will help deliver ongoing growth for the brand.

When asked if Too Faced can maintain its free-wheeling breaking-of-the-rules spirit under Estée Lauder’s ownership, Hohl replies: “100%. There is no question whatsoever. Nothing about the brand will be lost or diluted being part of The Estée Lauder Companies. In fact, I think it will be the opposite. As a founder-inspired and family-led company, they very much value our individuality as a brand and I believe we’ll find new ways for that to come through.”

Having Blandino as the creative force of Too Faced is key to maintaining this continuity and ensuring the longevity of the brand’s DNA. “Having Jerrod is our not-so-secret weapon: He’s an amazing creative energy,” says Hohl. “Also very important is to continue to build on our culture of creativity which always finds new and surprising ways to express the brand’s message.”

The Too Faced vision, according to the founders, is to “provide innovative, cruelty-free make-up products that give women the confidence to ‘have fun, play and dream big’.” As the brand’s 20th anniversary year draws to a close, Hohl hopes to carry this vision through the next 20 years: “We’re going to continue to spread the Too Faced light and paint the world pink, with the power of The Estée Lauder Companies behind us.” Travel retail will form a key part of that journey.

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Shopping & Duty-Free