When Tom Shen and Kenny Leung stop their tech jobs—as senior marketing consultant at IBM and company strategist at Fb, respectively—to launch a direct-to-consumer company in 2019, they had no idea that just a number of months afterwards, they’d operate a flourishing luxurious make-up-brush manufacturer with waitlists of purchaser names numbering into the 1000’s. Today, the duo run Rephr, a crowdsourced, spend-what-you-want natural beauty resources and skincare organization that they carry on to scale and iterate by leveraging information and buyer feedback—and current market via collaborative, responsive, term-of-mouth on influencer platforms, these types of as YouTube and Facebook.
“When we initially commenced, we didn’t just search at the magnificence classification, we did everything—talked to professionals in dwelling, electronics, and elegance,” Shen tells Quickly Firm. “What we observed when we talked to industry experts and make-up artists in the splendor field is that they’re really engaged, really passionate. I’d never ever achieved a extra passionate group than the magnificence local community. They could notify us each individual solitary detail of each and every one product start, who introduced a palette, who introduced a brush, and just what they’d do to enhance on a products I’d hardly ever witnessed that before.”
Any individual who has even casually explored the magnificence-influencer ecosystem has most likely found how intense and faithful that fanbase can be. From the get-go, Shen and Leung realized that accumulating suggestions from a extremely engaged local community would be critical to productive purchaser-very first product or service progress.
Armed with data culled from an comprehensive series of market interviews with skilled makeup artists, Shen and Leung traveled to Japan to meet up with with brush producers in Kumano—a modest city in the Mie prefecture, renowned for its artisan brush makers. They established various prototypes, which they brought to New York Town to seed and check with make-up artists.
“Those 5 brushes were being the to start with variations of our merchandise,” Leung suggests. “And, to this day, brushes 1 as a result of 5 stay our bestsellers.”
Not nevertheless happy with the results of their data-accumulating, Shen and Leung expanded their scope to prosumers and fans, taking a booth at the 2019 New York Makeup Demonstrate, wherever they put up a “Free Brushes” banner and handed out their initially 4,000 brushes free of charge, in trade for on-the-place responses.
“This allowed us to communicate to a broader group of people—in the thousands—just to make sure that the prototypes work not only for professionals, but also for fanatics,” Leung claims. “We also took this prototype software online, in which we sent out countless numbers of cost-free brushes in exchange for feed-back.”
Now, dozens of item launches in, Rephr continue to adheres to a pay back-what-you-want model for new solutions obtainable on its web site. Ideal now, for instance, although there’s a outlined MSRP of $26 on the brand’s hydration cream 1., consumers who do not want to shell out that amount of money can elect to title their very own price and deliver suggestions in lieu of payment. And what kind of feed-back are they getting in trade for handing out pretty much cost-free tubes of manufactured-in-Korea encounter product?
“I assume we have offered over 4,000 units now, and we’re beginning to get suggestions,” Leung says. “The principal issue we’re understanding is that people appreciate that it is quite suitable with makeup. That was the primary style intention—for us to have a moisturizer that actually will work for our current customer foundation, which is make-up people.”
These days, Rephr launches early indication-ups for its 2nd skincare merchandise, an intense hydration cream 1., made in response to consumer opinions asking for a richer moisturizing practical experience. Accessible to purchase later this time, Shen and Leung system to carry on replicating their tech-impressed item launch design: Suggestions, iterate, feed-back, iterate—a product or service cycle that retains Rephr’s main customer base engaged and looking forward to new drops.
“I think they think of us as a pretty interactive company—that we’re enjoyable to get the job done with,” Shen suggests. “They practically come to feel like they’re element of the business because they’re continually supplying us input on how to increase. We actually pay attention, and they see outcomes. It’s a very exceptional type of romantic relationship.”