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Nov. 1, 2022

Ben Jones (Haus Labs by Lady Gaga) - Inside Lady Gaga's Beauty Brand

Ben Jones (Haus Labs by Lady Gaga) - Inside Lady Gaga's Beauty Brand

Our guest today is Ben Jones, CEO of Haus Labs by Lady Gaga. Haus Labs by Lady Gaga is Lady Gaga’s clean artistry makeup brand powered by innovation.

Here's some of the questions I ask:

  1. How did you meet Lady Gaga and what was your first impression? and can you tell me about the founding story of what was originally Haus Laboratories? What was the reason she wanted to start a makeup brand?
  2. Lady Gaga is one of the busiest celebrities in the world, touring the world, acting, and engaging in a number of activities. How does she engage and interact with the brand and team? What role does she play in the company?
  3. There have been so many celebrity beauty launches in the last few years. Some may argue that the consumer could be a bit fatigued and incredulous of these types of brands. How does Haus Labs break the mold and cut through the celebrity brand launch noise?
  4. Why did you decide to launch originally on Amazon? Why wasn’t that successful, what did you learn? Do you think you can build a brand on Amazon? Haus Labs originally decided to launch with Amazon and did not achieve the growth and success originally planned. This was a bold move at the time. (FYI Amazon is a great place to leverage brand awareness and scale but not the best to create it or brand build).
  5. Do you thnk you’re original thesis about beauty correct?
  6. Haus Labs quickly pivoted distribution to Sephora (now almost in 500 doors) and executed a full brand and product relaunch.
  7. What did you learn from Sephora?
  8. What are the lessons learned since the original launch and what is the future for Haus Labs 2.0?
  9. Why did you change the name from Haus Laboratories to Haus Labs by Lady Gaga.
  10. Why did you rebrand to be “clean”? What does that mean to you?
  11. What are the challenges building an ecommerce brand?
  12. Makeup has seen a major resurgence post Covid. How do you see the beauty industry continue to evolve? What trends and categories are most exciting to you?
  13. Building community is so crucial to creating a successful beauty brand. How does Haus Labs leverage Lady Gaga’s existing community to drive product sales and build strong consumer loyalty in this category?
  14. In a very challenging DTC environment, how is the company thinking about omni-channel growth? What is the role of DTC, if any, vs wholesale (Sephora, etc)?
  15. What changed in their product or marketing as a result of learning from their users
  16. What tech do they experiment with as a brand?
  17. What are their role models when it comes to product and customer experience?
  18. What’s one book that’s inspired you personally and a book that has inspired you professionally?
    1. Shoe Dog
    2. Save the Cat - storytelling
  19. What’s one piece of advice for founders?
    1. Don’t underestimate experience and pattern recognition
Transcript
WEBVTT 1 00:00:02.080 --> 00:00:16.359 Hello, and welcome to the Good Summer VC podcast, where we discussed the 2 00:00:16.399 --> 00:00:20.679 intersection of venture capital and consumer I'm your host, Mike Gelp and if you're 3 00:00:20.760 --> 00:00:24.879 enjoying the show, you can subscribe to my newsletter where you'll receive new episodes 4 00:00:24.960 --> 00:00:29.399 a weeker. Head to the Consumer vc dot com and click subscribe. All 5 00:00:29.480 --> 00:00:34.840 continent episodes are for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not investment advice. 6 00:00:35.200 --> 00:00:39.640 Our guest today is Ben Jones, CEO of House Labs by Lady Gaga. 7 00:00:39.759 --> 00:00:43.719 As you can imagine, House Laves by Lady Gaga is Lady Gaga's clean artistry 8 00:00:43.799 --> 00:00:49.520 makeup brand powered by innovation. This is a great conversation in case study around 9 00:00:49.719 --> 00:00:53.560 creating a celebrity brand. Um. We discussed how Ben met Lady Gaga, 10 00:00:53.840 --> 00:00:57.560 her involvement on the day to day with the company, how the company went 11 00:00:57.600 --> 00:01:02.759 through an early rebrand which was really fascinating, as well as their approach to 12 00:01:03.119 --> 00:01:11.840 building the product in scale without further ado years. Beat Ben, thank you 13 00:01:11.959 --> 00:01:15.920 so much for joining me here today. How are you I'm doing great? 14 00:01:15.000 --> 00:01:19.400 Thank you for having me. Looking forward to talking about the business. Yeah, 15 00:01:19.560 --> 00:01:22.319 looking forward to talking to all things House Labs. This is gonna be 16 00:01:22.359 --> 00:01:23.920 a lot of fun. Why did the first start off? Telling me, 17 00:01:25.079 --> 00:01:29.799 how did you meet Lady Gaga? What was your first impression of her? 18 00:01:30.239 --> 00:01:33.239 Yeah, that's a great question. I've been it on this company and I 19 00:01:33.319 --> 00:01:37.799 was left in right as they were kind of going through their transition to focusing 20 00:01:37.799 --> 00:01:41.359 more on retail. The first call I got was from CIA, a guy 21 00:01:41.439 --> 00:01:44.920 named Michael jan Over who's a business development guy there, and he said, 22 00:01:44.920 --> 00:01:47.840 Hey, I've heard your name for a lot of people. Somebody who's good 23 00:01:47.840 --> 00:01:52.159 at getting business is going We've got this business has kind of been sitting in 24 00:01:52.239 --> 00:01:56.760 limbo for a year with this phenomenal celebrity that she actually brought the idea to 25 00:01:56.959 --> 00:02:00.040 us, and candidly like just leaving honest, I like, yeah, I'm 26 00:02:00.040 --> 00:02:02.840 not sure I want to do another you know, I think I'm good right 27 00:02:02.840 --> 00:02:06.359 now, and he goes, now you've got to hear about this, okay. 28 00:02:06.400 --> 00:02:07.479 So, being the cynic that I am, I was like, Okay, 29 00:02:07.479 --> 00:02:10.479 what what the level celebrity are They're gonna foace on me? Right? 30 00:02:10.560 --> 00:02:15.159 I'm like it might be doing, you know. So we met for lunch 31 00:02:15.240 --> 00:02:16.199 and I he said, what do you want to do next? And I 32 00:02:16.199 --> 00:02:21.120 said, look, I've had this, I've had this amazing run of working 33 00:02:21.159 --> 00:02:25.400 for you know, some pretty phenomenal CEOs like Mitch Lasky, Mark Penkis and 34 00:02:25.680 --> 00:02:29.479 Brian Lee. I'm ready to be CEO though, I said, So I 35 00:02:29.520 --> 00:02:31.719 want to be CEO. I want to do you know, direct consumer CpG, 36 00:02:32.319 --> 00:02:35.520 and I with the fourth one is going to surprise you a little bit. 37 00:02:35.520 --> 00:02:38.280 I want to do beauty. And he was like, yeah, that's 38 00:02:38.400 --> 00:02:39.599 very surprising. Why do you want to do beauty? And I said, 39 00:02:39.639 --> 00:02:43.840 I just feel like there's so much similarity to what happened in the video game 40 00:02:43.879 --> 00:02:47.360 industry that I'm very familiar with and what's going on in beauty that it resonates 41 00:02:47.360 --> 00:02:51.360 with me right now. And I said, one to split towards the boys 42 00:02:51.400 --> 00:02:54.080 and one split towards the girls. But like it's it's it feels like it's 43 00:02:54.080 --> 00:02:58.840 in my wheelhouse. And so with that we went to lunch and he said, 44 00:02:58.879 --> 00:03:00.919 I you know, I said who is it? And he said it's 45 00:03:00.960 --> 00:03:05.159 Gaga And I was like that changes my entire perspective right like suddenly. I 46 00:03:05.199 --> 00:03:07.800 was like from like yeah, I'll take your lunch to like, okay, 47 00:03:07.800 --> 00:03:10.280 this is really interesting. So she was incredibly busy at the time, and 48 00:03:10.280 --> 00:03:14.680 so it was kind of puttering along and I'm like, look, we gotta 49 00:03:14.719 --> 00:03:16.960 move this, like let's let's either get this going or not. And so 50 00:03:17.280 --> 00:03:22.879 I went to her house in Malibu to meet with her. And she's just 51 00:03:22.919 --> 00:03:25.759 a phenomenal human being and you feel it right away, like one she's the 52 00:03:25.840 --> 00:03:30.080 kindest person you'll ever meet, like no ego, no pretense, brilliant, 53 00:03:30.560 --> 00:03:36.360 like insights right away, passion right away, and I was like, this 54 00:03:36.400 --> 00:03:38.879 is somebody that's like a once in a lifetime person that I gotta work with. 55 00:03:39.360 --> 00:03:43.680 And so from there, you know, we did all the rig and 56 00:03:43.800 --> 00:03:46.879 role in the dance and we finally got to a place. And by the 57 00:03:46.879 --> 00:03:49.879 way, that she had to fit on the other side too, righte Gaga 58 00:03:49.919 --> 00:03:53.000 had to like me. So I think what sold her on me was she 59 00:03:53.080 --> 00:03:57.400 loved that I wasn't from the beauty industry and I came from experiential gaming, 60 00:03:57.840 --> 00:04:01.080 which she she thinks it's a great medium. And I had six sisters, 61 00:04:01.360 --> 00:04:04.199 so she was like, Okay, you're gonna understand this industry better than I 62 00:04:04.240 --> 00:04:09.879 expected. And from there, just you know, we've built the company that's 63 00:04:09.879 --> 00:04:13.360 awesome. I'd love to dig in a bit more about what you thought why 64 00:04:13.400 --> 00:04:15.439 you were so interested in beauty and the kind of the relationship in gaming and 65 00:04:15.439 --> 00:04:18.759 why there was kind of parallels that you saw what was happening now in beauty 66 00:04:18.800 --> 00:04:21.920 with gaming with your experience, and it was that, you know, in 67 00:04:23.000 --> 00:04:26.800 gaming, we had this time where I was like, o G mobile games, 68 00:04:26.839 --> 00:04:30.279 like jam Dad was like the very first Western mobile games company, and 69 00:04:30.720 --> 00:04:32.839 you know, you see, you see a lot of the you saw a 70 00:04:32.839 --> 00:04:36.959 lot of the disruption happening with you know, also with free to play and 71 00:04:38.000 --> 00:04:41.519 with mobile and everything else. And then really what changed gaming was live games, 72 00:04:41.639 --> 00:04:45.120 right, like this idea that the boxes, you don't just finish the 73 00:04:45.160 --> 00:04:46.959 game and you throw it away. It's like this game lives forever. And 74 00:04:46.959 --> 00:04:50.839 and so there were like massive sea changes there and in Beauty, like you 75 00:04:50.879 --> 00:04:55.079 started to see the way influencers were changed in the game and the way like 76 00:04:55.160 --> 00:04:59.079 Kylie, you know, with the DDC model and the drop model was changing 77 00:04:59.120 --> 00:05:00.879 the game. And when I looked at I was like, you know, 78 00:05:00.879 --> 00:05:02.800 there's a lot of parallels here, but there's not as many people playing here, 79 00:05:02.839 --> 00:05:06.879 Like it's since gotten much more competitive. But I would say games was 80 00:05:06.959 --> 00:05:11.439 the most competitive space for a long time. We're like just there was a 81 00:05:11.480 --> 00:05:15.040 million smart people chased in the same holy grail. And in beauty, it 82 00:05:15.079 --> 00:05:18.040 felt like there were some like older school companies who didn't quite know how to 83 00:05:18.040 --> 00:05:21.079 play it, who were trying to learn. And then there were new companies 84 00:05:21.279 --> 00:05:25.040 that I looked at and I so I just saw that there was gonna be 85 00:05:25.120 --> 00:05:27.879 a you know, I thought, there's been a wave of those companies who 86 00:05:28.000 --> 00:05:30.680 kind of did their thing and changed the whole landscape. And that's what felt 87 00:05:30.680 --> 00:05:33.839 similar to me, was like this this business that was going through a massive 88 00:05:33.879 --> 00:05:39.279 ce change and also had a massive audience. So just to summarize, for 89 00:05:39.519 --> 00:05:43.519 gaming, you saw a big sea change um in the kind of convert to 90 00:05:43.680 --> 00:05:46.920 mobile games. Maybe how that how that created different types of business model for 91 00:05:47.000 --> 00:05:53.079 that medium. And what you're seeing and in beauty is with the online e 92 00:05:53.160 --> 00:05:56.519 commerce and DTC, you're you know, you you sell it on your own 93 00:05:56.560 --> 00:05:59.879 site. You see that as kind of a sea chained a new medium that 94 00:06:00.040 --> 00:06:02.879 you thought there was maybe a white space here, a white space. And 95 00:06:02.879 --> 00:06:06.000 and by the way, also pure, like any entrepreneur, pure naivete, 96 00:06:06.240 --> 00:06:10.439 right, like ignorance, which is like why do you go into And you're 97 00:06:10.439 --> 00:06:12.720 like, well, I think I could do that, like like truth be 98 00:06:12.800 --> 00:06:15.319 told. If you had all the facts lined up and like you really knew 99 00:06:15.360 --> 00:06:18.920 what you were going for, you'd be like, I'm crazy, right, 100 00:06:19.000 --> 00:06:23.360 like I do sometimes possibly like how did I get here? Like it's kind 101 00:06:23.360 --> 00:06:27.120 of a it's a pretty radical shift from twenty years in the video game industry. 102 00:06:27.120 --> 00:06:29.240 Did this At the end of the day, it all came down like 103 00:06:29.399 --> 00:06:31.759 I also want to evaluate talent. So much of what I evaluated in the 104 00:06:31.839 --> 00:06:36.160 video game space transferred to this space, which is like I would buy teams 105 00:06:36.279 --> 00:06:39.560 or I would sell teams in the video game space, and I would always 106 00:06:39.560 --> 00:06:41.920 just want to talk to the designer. It's really all I cared about. 107 00:06:41.959 --> 00:06:46.199 I didn't like artist programmers. Obviously there's phenomenal people all over the industry, 108 00:06:46.240 --> 00:06:49.319 but like, I think there's like twenty great designers in the industry, and 109 00:06:50.160 --> 00:06:54.439 what I've learned in this space, I think there's like twenty great product developers 110 00:06:54.439 --> 00:06:58.319 in this space. There's like formulators who make stuff for everyone, and then 111 00:06:58.319 --> 00:07:02.480 the companies that stand out have that like person who can like maximize that relationship 112 00:07:02.519 --> 00:07:06.600 with the formulator, and each of them have this like pillar that you need 113 00:07:06.639 --> 00:07:12.160 to build the company designer, product developer, um where I think beauty is 114 00:07:12.199 --> 00:07:15.959 better than video games. I think they're better marketers. So the world's best 115 00:07:15.000 --> 00:07:18.240 marketers sitting beauty. And so that's been a learning experience for me, is 116 00:07:18.279 --> 00:07:21.839 how to how to interact with them and how to work with them. So 117 00:07:21.879 --> 00:07:27.199 how do you think about products? When you were talking about the Gaga and 118 00:07:27.399 --> 00:07:30.000 this company was you know, coming together? What was I guess your approach 119 00:07:30.000 --> 00:07:34.319 to actually building out that supply chain and the different number of exkews or or 120 00:07:34.439 --> 00:07:39.959 categories they wanted to enter. So learning, it's been a work in progress 121 00:07:39.959 --> 00:07:43.199 and I learned a lot. So like one like being self reflective. I 122 00:07:43.199 --> 00:07:46.319 would say when I was at Zinga, remember there was a gold rush like 123 00:07:46.360 --> 00:07:48.279 two thousand ten that everyone was going into free to play, and I meet 124 00:07:48.319 --> 00:07:53.079 all these people and I'd be like, who are these tourists? Right? 125 00:07:53.120 --> 00:07:55.759 They don't know any about games, and suddenly they're in all these meetings and 126 00:07:55.759 --> 00:07:58.959 I was like, I was kind of like dismissive of them. And then 127 00:07:59.000 --> 00:08:01.120 like a year ago, I sort of was like working on some things. 128 00:08:01.160 --> 00:08:03.560 I looked at myself like, wait, I'm the tourist, that guy, 129 00:08:05.079 --> 00:08:07.120 like all these people who have been here for twenty years, thirty years, 130 00:08:07.160 --> 00:08:11.399 have these careers. And then I walked in and I'm running Gaga's company, 131 00:08:11.399 --> 00:08:15.040 and they're like, who is this guy and why is he here? Right? 132 00:08:15.120 --> 00:08:18.680 And So I've learned along the way a lot. I think. I'm 133 00:08:18.399 --> 00:08:20.800 a I try to read people. I have a higher EQ than an i 134 00:08:20.879 --> 00:08:24.839 Q, so I try to read people right. And and I think what 135 00:08:24.959 --> 00:08:28.079 I learned very quickly, and Goga learned faster than me, was the type 136 00:08:28.120 --> 00:08:31.440 of people we needed in the company to do what we wanted to do. 137 00:08:31.879 --> 00:08:37.639 And I learned in beauty there's a huge uraging people who come from founder companies 138 00:08:37.679 --> 00:08:41.120 and then big, bigger companies. So we had to do a lot of 139 00:08:41.159 --> 00:08:43.399 work with getting the team right. I did a massive like, I mean, 140 00:08:43.679 --> 00:08:46.919 the last the first two three years of the company were really challenging because 141 00:08:46.919 --> 00:08:52.960 we we were finding the perfect mix on who could compliment Gaga's vision and embrace 142 00:08:52.000 --> 00:08:56.159 it rather than like try to push their own vision. Because Gaga is one 143 00:08:56.200 --> 00:09:00.759 of these people who's so forward thinking, so smart, you really got to 144 00:09:00.840 --> 00:09:03.759 kind of trust her and run with it even if it doesn't totally make sense 145 00:09:03.799 --> 00:09:09.480 to where where the businesses. And so I focused always on product for the 146 00:09:09.519 --> 00:09:13.720 company, but I didn't quite know how to build the product that was gonna 147 00:09:13.720 --> 00:09:18.159 win when I started, if that makes any sense. So you know, 148 00:09:18.879 --> 00:09:22.960 I put together a team, very talented people, but they weren't necessarily a 149 00:09:22.960 --> 00:09:26.600 team that wanted to build what Gaga wanted to build. They had their playbook 150 00:09:26.639 --> 00:09:28.200 from you know, their companies, and they wanted to build that, which 151 00:09:28.240 --> 00:09:33.120 is totally fine, but not with Lady Gaga because if you have Gaga the 152 00:09:33.159 --> 00:09:37.080 approver, you know, versus Gaga the creator, you're not going to build 153 00:09:37.080 --> 00:09:41.000 an awesome company. And so when we started, I put too short a 154 00:09:41.080 --> 00:09:46.759 timelines on the team. I tried to get to market too early and thinking 155 00:09:46.840 --> 00:09:50.200 speed would be our advantage. And the truth is like innovation and making the 156 00:09:50.200 --> 00:09:54.679 best product in the world is the advantage. And in this space, you 157 00:09:54.720 --> 00:09:56.600 cannot do that in nine months to a year, which is what I pushed 158 00:09:56.600 --> 00:10:01.039 the team on. You really need two years to do it, two years 159 00:10:01.080 --> 00:10:05.519 to build the product correctly. So we swapped the team. We swapped out. 160 00:10:05.559 --> 00:10:09.519 I mean in our first we we pretty much have a new company now 161 00:10:09.840 --> 00:10:13.240 right from a from a personnel standpoint, and we brought on people who were 162 00:10:13.320 --> 00:10:18.720 founder lead used to working with founders. And also we got lucky in some 163 00:10:18.799 --> 00:10:22.519 respects. We Gaga attracts the best, the best because they love her and 164 00:10:22.519 --> 00:10:24.279 they want to work with her, so we're able to put together this really 165 00:10:24.360 --> 00:10:28.120 rock star team. And then for this chapter two, we just launched UM 166 00:10:28.320 --> 00:10:35.279 was the four last week on the it's all new product, every single skeiw, 167 00:10:35.519 --> 00:10:39.919 so every single skiw is new. We went clean, we overhauled everything, 168 00:10:39.600 --> 00:10:43.399 and we took a swing for the fences. We knew we couldn't tweak 169 00:10:43.440 --> 00:10:46.519 what we originally launched with and make it successful to the level we wanted it 170 00:10:46.559 --> 00:10:50.240 to. That's really helpful, and I mean it's what fascinates me is, 171 00:10:50.440 --> 00:10:56.600 you know, Lady Gaga probably one of the busiest celebrities in the entire world, 172 00:10:56.840 --> 00:11:01.799 right Tory acting UM engaging just in a number of activities, and how 173 00:11:01.799 --> 00:11:05.519 does she engage and interact with the brand and team like and and and the 174 00:11:05.559 --> 00:11:09.840 actual role that she plays within the company. If you don't mind like walking 175 00:11:09.840 --> 00:11:11.320 me through that, Yeah, I know. So, I look, I 176 00:11:11.360 --> 00:11:16.720 think we've it's evolved over time. So like, look, as I learned 177 00:11:16.720 --> 00:11:18.840 about her and she learns about me. We learned like, Okay, here 178 00:11:18.960 --> 00:11:22.240 his strengths, here's my strength, here's her strengths. And how do I 179 00:11:22.279 --> 00:11:28.120 empower you know, her and the team to listen to these things that that 180 00:11:28.200 --> 00:11:31.759 we want to do. And so where she spends the majority of her time 181 00:11:31.799 --> 00:11:35.720 is on product and creative right. So, and not only that, by 182 00:11:35.720 --> 00:11:39.159 the way, she's much more you'd be surprised. She's much more like brand 183 00:11:39.200 --> 00:11:41.360 systems. So she came to me a year ago. I was like, 184 00:11:41.399 --> 00:11:43.919 you know, we really got to get our brand systems stronger. So when 185 00:11:43.919 --> 00:11:48.080 I'm not there, everything is cohesive and the way it flows. Um, 186 00:11:48.240 --> 00:11:52.759 she's got like a photographic memory, so she's very visual, right, so 187 00:11:52.799 --> 00:11:58.720 she looks everything visually from from top to bottom. She also like everything has 188 00:11:58.759 --> 00:12:03.120 to low in a in a certain way, and she's a perfectionist. So 189 00:12:03.639 --> 00:12:07.879 she handles all the stuff that like is consumer facing. I handle all the 190 00:12:07.960 --> 00:12:11.360 day to day operation stuff and you know, the non sexy stuff, let's 191 00:12:11.360 --> 00:12:13.360 say, Um, and that's the way we kind of divide and conquer. 192 00:12:13.519 --> 00:12:16.559 And then there's times when she has to go do her other jobs. So 193 00:12:16.600 --> 00:12:20.759 then that's where the team really plays the part of like we got to carry 194 00:12:20.759 --> 00:12:24.600 on while she's not here. I mean, it doesn't surprise me either that 195 00:12:24.720 --> 00:12:28.279 Garga would be also very involved in the brand system. Size, I mean 196 00:12:28.320 --> 00:12:30.919 one of my favorite books. I don't know, if you've had a monster 197 00:12:31.000 --> 00:12:35.080 loyalty, how Lydia got turns, followers and fanatics and like every single part, 198 00:12:35.240 --> 00:12:39.279 every single like little thing that she does in order to get her fans 199 00:12:39.320 --> 00:12:43.039 more involved, and how just her interaction with the people that follow her. 200 00:12:43.080 --> 00:12:48.440 It's pretty pretty incredible. I'm of the belief that we've only scratched the surface 201 00:12:48.480 --> 00:12:52.919 of what God is gonna then mark she's going to make on this world before 202 00:12:52.000 --> 00:12:56.679 she leaves, because I just watched the way her she's so committed to perfection 203 00:12:56.840 --> 00:13:01.000 and so committed to like if like her latest to a Chromatic, I got 204 00:13:01.039 --> 00:13:03.799 to see it in Chicago, and like I'm sitting there watching, I just 205 00:13:03.919 --> 00:13:05.320 know the amount of time she had to prepare for it, and what it 206 00:13:05.360 --> 00:13:09.200 took to do it in that period of time, and the fact that she's 207 00:13:09.240 --> 00:13:11.519 able to nail that. Then while she's on tour, she's doing TikTok's for 208 00:13:11.600 --> 00:13:15.759 us in our hotel room that are getting you know, ten million views in 209 00:13:15.799 --> 00:13:18.200 two days, and then she's going to do you know, she's doing a 210 00:13:18.240 --> 00:13:24.399 mental health campaign with her mom, And like it's truly incredible when somebody is 211 00:13:24.440 --> 00:13:26.399 able to do multiple things and do them all at a high level. But 212 00:13:26.480 --> 00:13:31.440 it's because she's got incredible focus. So like far better than I have, 213 00:13:31.679 --> 00:13:35.840 Like I I jump a lot. She is very one. So when she's 214 00:13:35.840 --> 00:13:39.759 working on house Labs, she will eat, drink, sleep house Labs sixteen 215 00:13:39.840 --> 00:13:41.879 to eighteen hours a day, and that's where her head is. When she 216 00:13:41.960 --> 00:13:46.240 switches tracks to music, then she's going to switch that track and then we're 217 00:13:46.240 --> 00:13:48.360 going to make sure we have stuff in the can and we're ready for it 218 00:13:48.360 --> 00:13:52.360 and everything else. But like she doesn't cross pollinate, she doesn't dance on 219 00:13:52.399 --> 00:13:56.039 like three different things. She's very highly focused on whatever she's working on. 220 00:13:56.399 --> 00:14:00.360 I appreciate you paint a little bit of a picture about just how she's just 221 00:14:00.399 --> 00:14:03.799 involved in different activities and you know, I mean a little bit of a 222 00:14:03.159 --> 00:14:07.240 day in the life, which is amazing. As you kind of mentioned when 223 00:14:07.240 --> 00:14:11.440 you were actually thinking about getting into beauty and personal care and and thinking about 224 00:14:11.759 --> 00:14:15.399 um uh, these categories you mentioned, you know, Kylie Jenner there's a 225 00:14:15.440 --> 00:14:18.759 lot of you know, celebrity launches in the past few years, and you 226 00:14:18.799 --> 00:14:22.159 know, there is some argument to be made, and it's been made on 227 00:14:22.200 --> 00:14:26.159 the show that consumers might be a bit fatigued of these types of brands that 228 00:14:26.159 --> 00:14:31.399 are maybe celebrity lead. How do you think that House Labs have maybe broken 229 00:14:31.399 --> 00:14:33.879 the mold here and kind of cut through that you know, kind of noise 230 00:14:33.960 --> 00:14:37.320 of As you said, when you were first approach, You're like, Okay, 231 00:14:37.360 --> 00:14:39.919 what be celebrity wants to start you know, a brand now? Like, 232 00:14:41.000 --> 00:14:43.559 so, how do you think about the whole like breakthrough the noise part 233 00:14:43.799 --> 00:14:46.320 of your business? Yeah, product number one? Right, like if you 234 00:14:46.799 --> 00:14:50.720 because part of the part of the problem is and this isn't this isn't a 235 00:14:50.759 --> 00:14:54.840 celebrity issue. This is a business issue. If people are slapping names or 236 00:14:54.960 --> 00:14:58.039 or not not really thinking through a product for the end consumer and then putting 237 00:14:58.039 --> 00:15:01.639 it out there, it doesn't have a very long shelf life. There are 238 00:15:01.679 --> 00:15:03.480 people who can go over and above that, it's just because they have such 239 00:15:03.519 --> 00:15:07.919 reach and they will survive for a while, but eventually it catches up to 240 00:15:07.960 --> 00:15:11.080 them. So I think when we benchmarked this chapter two, we said Okay, 241 00:15:11.200 --> 00:15:15.159 we are not. While we're going clean with our ingredients, we are 242 00:15:15.159 --> 00:15:20.080 not benchmarking against other clean companies. We are benchmarking against luxury brands that can 243 00:15:20.840 --> 00:15:26.000 that we can compete with even though we're not putting ingredients in there that might 244 00:15:26.039 --> 00:15:28.080 not be great for you. And so like our foundation, which we just 245 00:15:28.240 --> 00:15:33.440 launched, we we weren't benchmarking against other clean foundations. We were benchmarking against, 246 00:15:33.759 --> 00:15:37.679 you know, the Armani silk. We are benchmarking against like world class 247 00:15:37.720 --> 00:15:41.720 foundations that have been around forever. And that was really driven by Gaga. 248 00:15:41.879 --> 00:15:46.480 She was like, look, if I can't like put my you know, 249 00:15:46.559 --> 00:15:50.000 this foundation down and pick ours up and wear it, I'm not gonna I'm 250 00:15:50.000 --> 00:15:52.000 not gonna be happy with it. Like it's got to be a world class 251 00:15:52.039 --> 00:15:54.960 foundation. That goes back to what I said earlier about having a world class 252 00:15:54.960 --> 00:15:58.200 product developer. And I mean, the best example I can give you is 253 00:15:58.240 --> 00:16:03.240 like when we go to a formulator with her, there's six chemists around the 254 00:16:03.279 --> 00:16:07.120 table, no reps, no sales reps. It's six chemist and maybe the 255 00:16:07.120 --> 00:16:10.360 CEO of the formulator. When I started the company, it was one sales 256 00:16:10.399 --> 00:16:14.679 rep, no chemist, and RPD person right, So it's like a huge 257 00:16:14.799 --> 00:16:18.759 difference in how we're approaching the product. So what makes me the most happy 258 00:16:18.840 --> 00:16:21.960 right now is watching the customer reaction to our foundation, because it's, you 259 00:16:22.000 --> 00:16:25.279 know, it's a best selling like we just launched it was before. It's 260 00:16:25.279 --> 00:16:29.360 a best selling foundation, and but the reviews and the TikTok's and everything else 261 00:16:29.360 --> 00:16:32.200 that people are doing are like they're blown away by it. So in a 262 00:16:32.240 --> 00:16:33.879 way, I think we knew we had to go over and above being a 263 00:16:33.960 --> 00:16:38.440 celebrity brand because it actually hasn't been an advantage for some brands. It's actually 264 00:16:38.440 --> 00:16:41.840 a detriment because people are just like, who slapped their name on this product? 265 00:16:42.080 --> 00:16:47.240 And I just said, with Gaga, it's she's a force to be 266 00:16:47.279 --> 00:16:51.039 reckoned with, and you can't deny that her handprints are all over this thing, 267 00:16:51.320 --> 00:16:55.919 and the customers can feel that too. So the authenticity of, you 268 00:16:55.960 --> 00:16:59.559 know, of her kind of level of involvement with the product, and you 269 00:16:59.600 --> 00:17:03.279 know, I need the product to be perfect for her. If it's for 270 00:17:03.320 --> 00:17:06.039 her, then it might also be perfect for her friends. But but but 271 00:17:06.119 --> 00:17:10.000 it stems from a very authentic place reminds me a lot. The third I 272 00:17:10.000 --> 00:17:12.319 think it was The third interview that I did on Because Reviews podcast was with 273 00:17:12.680 --> 00:17:17.440 Nicole Quinn at Light Speed and she was talking up about house Labs. This 274 00:17:17.559 --> 00:17:21.400 was back in twenty nineteen, but she was saying, how Lady Gaya's hands 275 00:17:21.400 --> 00:17:26.119 are just all over it. Now. Originally you decided to launch on Amazon. 276 00:17:26.400 --> 00:17:30.559 Why was it that so successful? Yeah, that's a great question, 277 00:17:30.640 --> 00:17:33.240 and it's what I thought about a lot, because like I dealt with the 278 00:17:33.240 --> 00:17:36.160 Amazon. Coming from my background, I had dealt with the Amazon and when 279 00:17:36.200 --> 00:17:38.279 they when we were approached with the opportunity, I originally said no. I 280 00:17:38.279 --> 00:17:42.359 just thought it was too early in our existence and we wanted to control our 281 00:17:42.400 --> 00:17:45.920 own destiny everything else, and like and then we you know, so Amazon 282 00:17:45.960 --> 00:17:48.759 came to you. Is that is that what happened? Yeah, they thought 283 00:17:48.799 --> 00:17:52.039 they you know, they hadn't all. I think it was they had an 284 00:17:52.079 --> 00:17:55.920 opportunity around Prime Day. They wanted to launch a brand for the first time 285 00:17:55.960 --> 00:17:57.960 ever, and they really led us in the kitchen. They did a lot 286 00:17:59.000 --> 00:18:00.640 for our company, and they braces in a way that I I don't think 287 00:18:00.640 --> 00:18:04.880 they've done with many companies. Um. Ultimately, I think that the challenges 288 00:18:06.000 --> 00:18:08.119 this like this, and this is why we're at Sephora, so for the 289 00:18:08.160 --> 00:18:12.880 breast best brand builders in the world right for for beauty. So you have 290 00:18:12.960 --> 00:18:18.640 alta who's a who's a phenomenal retailer, but probably better at scale when you're 291 00:18:18.680 --> 00:18:22.680 at scale as a as a brand, where Sephora has kind of a track 292 00:18:22.720 --> 00:18:26.440 record of over and over again taking brands that maybe don't have great brand awareness 293 00:18:26.920 --> 00:18:30.480 and introduce into the world. They have the best trained sales people and everything 294 00:18:30.519 --> 00:18:33.960 else. So like that that is a big part of like when you launch 295 00:18:33.960 --> 00:18:37.839 a brand that you need in beauty, even with Lady Gaga, you can't 296 00:18:37.880 --> 00:18:41.160 just rely on that person. You have to have the whole, the whole 297 00:18:41.240 --> 00:18:47.920 like story in the whole world. Combined with Amazon, it's not a discovery 298 00:18:47.960 --> 00:18:51.400 platform, right, it's a it's a I know what I'm buying and I 299 00:18:51.440 --> 00:18:53.799 go there and buy a platform. So I think it was really hard for 300 00:18:53.880 --> 00:18:59.279 us as a startup, especially to break out without spending you know, tens 301 00:18:59.279 --> 00:19:02.279 of millions of dollars or is on advertising everything else. Like, it was 302 00:19:02.400 --> 00:19:06.279 very hard to break out there. So I think Amazon went went to the 303 00:19:06.319 --> 00:19:08.400 moon for us and and we you know, we had a lot of success 304 00:19:08.400 --> 00:19:11.880 in some categories but it was really hard to break through a certain must win 305 00:19:12.000 --> 00:19:15.759 categories like foundation, which is why we didn't launch it there. And so 306 00:19:17.279 --> 00:19:21.160 I think learning experience would be you have to build a brand first before you 307 00:19:21.200 --> 00:19:23.640 try and go all in there because it's not a discovery platform. Also, 308 00:19:23.640 --> 00:19:29.680 it's not a drop platform, right, we're doing drops. So Amazon's algorithms 309 00:19:30.160 --> 00:19:33.799 their motors, right, they speed up, they slow down, velocity reviews, 310 00:19:33.799 --> 00:19:36.119 all this stuff. When you do a drop, it's not going to 311 00:19:36.240 --> 00:19:38.160 show because the algorithm is not. So like, we didn't do a lot 312 00:19:38.160 --> 00:19:41.759 of work there, and so look they like from a partnership perspective, they 313 00:19:41.799 --> 00:19:45.119 were pretty phenomenal with us. It just wasn't the hit I think we were 314 00:19:45.119 --> 00:19:48.039 all hoping it would be. And candidly, I don't think we gave them 315 00:19:48.039 --> 00:19:52.720 the products like we have now. Um just because we were learning and we 316 00:19:52.720 --> 00:19:55.279 were we were evolving into the company. I don't think we gave we had 317 00:19:55.279 --> 00:19:57.279 our best foot forward either. This comes up on the show a lot, 318 00:19:57.319 --> 00:20:00.519 you know that kind of this question of Katie Bill a brand on Amazon, 319 00:20:00.759 --> 00:20:06.240 because it's a series of listings and I would think it's just very, very 320 00:20:06.240 --> 00:20:11.160 difficult to be able to kind of stand out in some ways from other listings 321 00:20:11.359 --> 00:20:15.200 that you see on Amazon, So totally can understand it from that standpoint. 322 00:20:15.440 --> 00:20:18.640 What are kind of your lessons learned about your you know, the original laws 323 00:20:18.640 --> 00:20:22.720 on Amazon all way up to now you launch the Sophora, And do you 324 00:20:22.759 --> 00:20:26.640 think that your original thesis why you wanted to enter into beauty personal care? 325 00:20:26.759 --> 00:20:30.000 What you kind of saw kind of in parallel what happened to the video game 326 00:20:30.000 --> 00:20:33.079 industry and mobile a new platform. You see that with you know DTC online. 327 00:20:33.480 --> 00:20:37.240 Um, you're launching this, you just launched Sepphora, which is in 328 00:20:37.240 --> 00:20:41.480 your traditional retail. Is there still an opportunity as well that you see for 329 00:20:41.599 --> 00:20:45.960 you know, online channels or is it more so like it as like an 330 00:20:45.000 --> 00:20:48.720 advertising medium. No, I think it's I think it's all the above. 331 00:20:48.839 --> 00:20:53.480 This is still one category where you need retail. Like beauty retail is strong, 332 00:20:53.839 --> 00:20:56.759 right, It's very strong. So it's not like, you know, 333 00:20:56.759 --> 00:21:00.200 it's not like back in the day when you're or like you gotta go to 334 00:21:00.240 --> 00:21:03.000 best spot, you gotta go to you gotta go to Bentonville and you've got 335 00:21:03.079 --> 00:21:06.480 to do this stuff. It's like, no, we have digital downloads, 336 00:21:06.480 --> 00:21:08.279 we can do excey. It was kind of so you know, there was 337 00:21:08.319 --> 00:21:11.680 that big tug and pool for a long time, like from the retailers if 338 00:21:11.680 --> 00:21:15.200 you go here or you won't go here, and everything else, and none 339 00:21:15.200 --> 00:21:18.079 of it played out that way. I think in this space you one thousand 340 00:21:18.079 --> 00:21:25.079 percent need to have a physical presence because it's a touch feel shade match Like 341 00:21:25.240 --> 00:21:29.279 I mean, we've gotten very sophisticated and everyone's gotten much more sophisticated on like 342 00:21:29.359 --> 00:21:33.640 online shade matching per se, but like you still getting a beauty advisor to 343 00:21:33.640 --> 00:21:38.039 sit with you and like do that is still the most powerful sales technique during 344 00:21:38.119 --> 00:21:44.960 the kind of reband process, why did you change your name from House Laboratories 345 00:21:45.000 --> 00:21:48.559 to House Louds by the Degaga a lot of I mean several reasons when we 346 00:21:48.599 --> 00:21:52.519 wanted people to be clear that it was like the brand it evolved and it 347 00:21:52.640 --> 00:21:56.359 made more sense, like to have Gaga's name in it, like I mean, 348 00:21:56.640 --> 00:22:00.480 she's She's one of the top five most recognized icons in the world, 349 00:22:00.480 --> 00:22:04.039 so like House Labs, like why not right from from many reasons, right, 350 00:22:04.200 --> 00:22:07.960 like common sense reasons, and then also like it just we do want 351 00:22:07.960 --> 00:22:11.880 to be about like we do want people when they try our projects, like, 352 00:22:11.880 --> 00:22:14.720 well, these guys are future thinking, like she's a futurist, and 353 00:22:14.759 --> 00:22:17.839 we wanted it to be more like lab driven. So it's just like it 354 00:22:17.960 --> 00:22:21.720 just felt cleaner to us house labs by Lady Gaga, whereas house laboratories. 355 00:22:21.759 --> 00:22:22.880 It's like, hey, that's all well and good, and I hope one 356 00:22:22.920 --> 00:22:26.799 day everyone in the world knows our You know, we have a Q score 357 00:22:26.799 --> 00:22:30.640 of X and whatever and identity rating, but Gaga has that today and we 358 00:22:30.720 --> 00:22:34.279 don't. So it makes a lot of sense. That makes sense. That 359 00:22:34.319 --> 00:22:37.640 makes sense. I think it's part of the band. What I was reading 360 00:22:37.720 --> 00:22:41.480 is that you it's clean makeup, right, What does clean up mean to 361 00:22:41.519 --> 00:22:45.400 you? It basically like, look, I always want to think clean because 362 00:22:45.440 --> 00:22:49.839 clean such a vague. It's it means nothing clear, Clean means nothing by 363 00:22:49.839 --> 00:22:53.440 itself. I think what we tried to achieve was the European standard of what 364 00:22:53.480 --> 00:22:57.400 the clean ingredients list looks like, because they're far more aggressive about it than 365 00:22:57.440 --> 00:23:02.200 we are. The funniest part of at all. It reminds me like early 366 00:23:02.240 --> 00:23:04.839 in my career, I was getting recruited by Trip Hawkins from e A and 367 00:23:04.880 --> 00:23:07.680 he told me the story of when he started electronic guards, and he said 368 00:23:07.720 --> 00:23:11.160 it had to do with when the processors were gonna be fast enough to do 369 00:23:11.200 --> 00:23:15.279 the kind of sports games he wanted to make. And I think we had 370 00:23:15.319 --> 00:23:21.400 this lucky kind of combination of events where the technology on the formulator side caught 371 00:23:21.480 --> 00:23:25.240 up in the last few years where we could actually build product that Gaga would 372 00:23:25.240 --> 00:23:27.759 be proud of in a clean formulation. Four years ago we couldn't do it. 373 00:23:29.000 --> 00:23:32.519 Now we can. So it's like it's almost like the process of speed 374 00:23:32.519 --> 00:23:34.240 caught up to where we wanted to be. And so when she called me 375 00:23:34.279 --> 00:23:37.160 and said, I want to do clean like it was during COVID, and 376 00:23:37.200 --> 00:23:40.440 she's like, we can't be a kindness brand and not be kind of the 377 00:23:40.480 --> 00:23:44.039 planet like and kind of ourselves, Like we've got to do this. And 378 00:23:44.079 --> 00:23:47.200 I called an old friend of mine who from honest it was a chemist who 379 00:23:47.240 --> 00:23:49.039 was no longer there, but she's a chemist and she's pretty raw, and 380 00:23:49.039 --> 00:23:52.480 I said, we want to do a clean foundation, um, and she 381 00:23:52.519 --> 00:23:55.519 does, You're fucking mad, that was her response. And I said why, 382 00:23:55.559 --> 00:23:57.640 She's like, it's just so hard. She's like, you know, 383 00:23:57.720 --> 00:24:00.480 you need the pegs for stable zation, you need this, and she started 384 00:24:00.480 --> 00:24:03.640 listening to the chemicals and what they did for you, and I said, 385 00:24:03.680 --> 00:24:06.440 yeah, it isn't that what we're startups? So isn't that what we should 386 00:24:06.480 --> 00:24:10.200 be doing, right? Like we should be taking the hard challenge. And 387 00:24:10.200 --> 00:24:12.000 and we we just got we got a little bit of luck because we got 388 00:24:12.039 --> 00:24:18.319 this phenomenal product developer and then we married her with this phenomenal chemist who who's 389 00:24:18.640 --> 00:24:22.960 kind of legendary and the industry and she loved Lady Gaga. So Gaga went 390 00:24:23.000 --> 00:24:26.680 down to the lab and stayed there for seven hours and met with all their 391 00:24:26.759 --> 00:24:30.480 chemists, and she took them through all her Like here's how I'm thinking. 392 00:24:30.960 --> 00:24:33.279 They were so blown away by her. It's almost like they said, Okay, 393 00:24:33.319 --> 00:24:37.279 we're giving them the Triple A treatment, like let's let's make this work, 394 00:24:37.559 --> 00:24:41.200 right like, And so that that was like a lucky relationship for us, 395 00:24:41.519 --> 00:24:45.359 right like, that was that was just lucky how it all came together. 396 00:24:45.880 --> 00:24:49.160 But it also was that matter of Goga driving herself down to Irvine, 397 00:24:49.559 --> 00:24:55.079 sitting in their lab for seven hours and then saying, this person is real 398 00:24:55.240 --> 00:24:57.359 and she's got a real vision, and we want to make stuff for her, 399 00:24:57.839 --> 00:25:02.759 right And I think that, you know, set us on our path, 400 00:25:02.960 --> 00:25:06.759 and then the clean aspects of it now just like we think we can 401 00:25:06.799 --> 00:25:11.279 compete with quote unquote dirty products across the board. That's really interesting and it's 402 00:25:11.279 --> 00:25:15.720 also really cool that I did that. I remember when I think how's laboratory. 403 00:25:15.759 --> 00:25:18.680 When you first launched, you were looking on the price point side it 404 00:25:18.799 --> 00:25:22.880 to be accessible to everyone or to a lot of people. Since going clean 405 00:25:23.079 --> 00:25:26.319 where I'd imagine it's it's just kind of laid out. It's a very difficult 406 00:25:26.319 --> 00:25:30.200 process. I'd imagine that's that probably eats into your margins a bit. How 407 00:25:30.279 --> 00:25:34.720 do you think about when you were thinking about the relaunch and launch and Sephora, 408 00:25:34.799 --> 00:25:37.759 how did you think about price point? Yeah, we we argued about 409 00:25:37.759 --> 00:25:41.680 it a lot. I'll tell you that right now. Because the product developers 410 00:25:41.680 --> 00:25:44.880 sitting there going like, do you understand what we're packing into these products? 411 00:25:45.200 --> 00:25:48.119 We should be charging this for it, right, And then you have the 412 00:25:48.119 --> 00:25:49.799 marketing team saying, well, well, well, like if you charge that, 413 00:25:49.880 --> 00:25:55.000 you're you're out of range with this, this and this, and so 414 00:25:55.119 --> 00:25:57.319 it's a dance because we I'm not lying when I tell you these things are 415 00:25:57.359 --> 00:26:02.680 packed like they're packed with skincare ingredients and like the and we're doing it, 416 00:26:02.680 --> 00:26:06.960 we were doing it during a massive supply chain craziness, right, So, 417 00:26:07.000 --> 00:26:08.640 like I think as a as a founder and as CEO, what I look 418 00:26:08.640 --> 00:26:12.960 at is like, Okay, don't plan for what's happening in chaotic moments, 419 00:26:14.000 --> 00:26:15.960 plan for steady state. So like, our goal for this year has been, 420 00:26:17.000 --> 00:26:18.640 like it's been a pretty simple goal, like a path to normalcy, 421 00:26:18.920 --> 00:26:22.359 which sounds silly, but like normal to me means like you're operating under normal 422 00:26:22.440 --> 00:26:26.559 conditions, right, Like you don't have ports backed up, you don't have 423 00:26:26.599 --> 00:26:29.240 this onto that. Like, so if you say to me, Ben, 424 00:26:29.279 --> 00:26:30.680 you're gonna take margin pressure, I'm like, Okay, I can take margin 425 00:26:30.680 --> 00:26:33.759 pressure for a year, but I can't take margin pressure for five years. 426 00:26:34.160 --> 00:26:37.480 So like, as long as you can show me that, like, hey, 427 00:26:37.519 --> 00:26:40.960 we can take our margin to like the industry best within twenty four months 428 00:26:40.960 --> 00:26:42.200 from a launch, I'll do it. But I won't do it if it's 429 00:26:42.240 --> 00:26:45.519 like you're forever going to be in a you know, a down position. 430 00:26:45.920 --> 00:26:52.759 Was that also helpful to UM with your partnership with with Sephora, did they 431 00:26:52.759 --> 00:26:55.759 do they also maybe give you feedback in terms of how to approach pricing at 432 00:26:55.759 --> 00:26:59.480 all Sephoria. That's why there's such a great partner. They are in your 433 00:26:59.559 --> 00:27:02.559 kitchen when you're an exclusive brand, what's before Like part of the reason you 434 00:27:02.559 --> 00:27:07.759 to do that is like they are day in, day out in your kitchen, 435 00:27:07.960 --> 00:27:10.039 Like they're telling you, like we don't like this, we love this, 436 00:27:10.079 --> 00:27:12.119 we don't like like they hold no, they pull no punches. Their 437 00:27:12.160 --> 00:27:17.759 phenomenal partner in that regard because they make you better. That's awesome. How 438 00:27:17.880 --> 00:27:21.519 also have you I know you talked a little bit about Lydiaga releasing you know 439 00:27:21.599 --> 00:27:26.079 TikTok videos about house Labs that of course have been seen by millions, But 440 00:27:26.480 --> 00:27:32.440 how else do you kind of leverage Lady Gaga's existing community to help drive products 441 00:27:32.440 --> 00:27:37.519 cells and bring maybe higher repeat lates, higher loyalty within for house Labs. 442 00:27:38.400 --> 00:27:41.880 You do, like you talked about the book, but the Monsters are the 443 00:27:41.920 --> 00:27:47.160 most like you could you could argue there's like three incredible fan bases, right, 444 00:27:47.240 --> 00:27:49.160 you have the swift Ease, the Monsters, and a few others, 445 00:27:49.319 --> 00:27:52.720 but like they are the most passionate. Like I got such a chuckle. 446 00:27:52.759 --> 00:27:56.960 I was in Chicago and there's a gentleman in front of me, and there 447 00:27:57.000 --> 00:28:00.960 was a woman next to me and she was talking about Lady Gaga's lips. 448 00:28:02.079 --> 00:28:03.960 She's like, what is she wearing them? And he goes, oh, 449 00:28:03.039 --> 00:28:06.920 that's atomic shaper lip laquer, and she goes, what's that? And he 450 00:28:07.039 --> 00:28:10.119 like turns around, He has no idea who I am. He starts selling 451 00:28:10.160 --> 00:28:12.680 her on why she needs this because we sell We saw a good percentage of 452 00:28:12.680 --> 00:28:17.200 our product to men, and like a really healthy product percentage. And so 453 00:28:18.000 --> 00:28:19.200 I was smiling the ear in the ear and she's like, where do I 454 00:28:19.240 --> 00:28:22.119 get it? And I just looked like, go, it's sold out right 455 00:28:22.119 --> 00:28:23.920 now because there was a massive run on it, but like three weeks we'll 456 00:28:23.960 --> 00:28:26.920 have more. And she was like, how do you know. I'm like 457 00:28:26.039 --> 00:28:29.960 I just know right, Like just trust me, you gotta get it right. 458 00:28:30.440 --> 00:28:34.000 And but her fans like when we launched the relaunch, they were printing 459 00:28:34.240 --> 00:28:41.000 posters in foreign territories in Paris in the UK and put it up bus stops 460 00:28:41.000 --> 00:28:44.119 on their own time. So like that's the way. And one of the 461 00:28:44.119 --> 00:28:45.319 things I'm not gonna go too into it now because I don't want to give 462 00:28:45.319 --> 00:28:48.720 it away too much. For like I think there's a massive opportunity for what 463 00:28:48.759 --> 00:28:53.319 happened in the video game industries with beta launches and building out community. In 464 00:28:53.359 --> 00:28:56.759 the beauty industry, one of the things I don't love about it is you 465 00:28:56.880 --> 00:29:00.000 pretty much push your poker chips in all the time because you don't you don't 466 00:29:00.160 --> 00:29:02.519 get the fan. Like in video games, we could like test, right, 467 00:29:02.559 --> 00:29:07.039 we we do soft launches in Australia and Canada, Philippines and everything else, 468 00:29:07.079 --> 00:29:10.880 and like you'd have general ideas, especially at Zingle, like we'd know 469 00:29:10.920 --> 00:29:12.079 when we launched a game, like how big it was going to be in 470 00:29:12.160 --> 00:29:15.839 beauty it's like, okay, well we know this category is big. We're 471 00:29:15.839 --> 00:29:18.119 gonna do this, like okay, let's go. And that's scary, rights 472 00:29:18.279 --> 00:29:22.039 as any company is. Like every time you're launching, you're pushing your chips 473 00:29:22.079 --> 00:29:25.480 in. So I would love to get the monsters more involved in development process, 474 00:29:25.519 --> 00:29:27.920 like literally give them updates on like, hey, here's the product, 475 00:29:29.079 --> 00:29:32.200 like we're trying to get out, but we got you know, more builds 476 00:29:32.279 --> 00:29:33.400 do here's what we're trying to get with it. What do you think? 477 00:29:33.440 --> 00:29:37.279 And even sending out little lab samples to people. That's where I think we 478 00:29:37.319 --> 00:29:41.359 can be disruptive and that's I think a face that's coming soon. Without spelling 479 00:29:41.400 --> 00:29:44.839 it all out, but like I want to I want to do a lab 480 00:29:44.920 --> 00:29:49.240 series that's much more customer facing. I'm interested to see how you think about 481 00:29:49.880 --> 00:29:56.160 the category broader makeup just as a category broader. We've seen a resurgence during 482 00:29:56.200 --> 00:30:00.799 our post COVID with people maybe went back to work, going out to be 483 00:30:00.880 --> 00:30:03.640 able to go out to restaurants and which is great into you know, bars 484 00:30:03.680 --> 00:30:07.599 and what have you. How have you've seen or what do you think about 485 00:30:07.839 --> 00:30:11.440 how beauty is going to be going to continue to evolve and what are maybe 486 00:30:11.440 --> 00:30:15.759 some trends and categories that are most exciting to you right now. I think 487 00:30:15.759 --> 00:30:19.680 we were ahead of the curve and it was really Gaga's foresight putting skincare benefits 488 00:30:19.680 --> 00:30:25.119 into makeup right so that you look at like, for example, the foundation 489 00:30:25.279 --> 00:30:30.119 we have fermented arnica is something that we did in it and which causes like 490 00:30:30.440 --> 00:30:33.680 it reduces inflammation and it does a lot of other things. So like we're 491 00:30:33.680 --> 00:30:38.960 getting a lot of incredible feedback from people who have rosatia or have exima or 492 00:30:40.000 --> 00:30:42.559 maybe had breakouts right and they're like, I'm not getting any of that from 493 00:30:42.599 --> 00:30:45.359 your foundation, So like that's I think a huge I think that was a 494 00:30:45.440 --> 00:30:49.680 huge foresight. I already get the skincare benefits into into makeup products. I 495 00:30:49.680 --> 00:30:53.880 think. Look, obviously, sustainability still top of mind for a lot of 496 00:30:53.880 --> 00:30:57.720 the younger consumers more so than the word clean. They want are like okay, 497 00:30:57.759 --> 00:31:00.240 are you walking the walk? Right? Like, are you walking the 498 00:31:00.240 --> 00:31:03.160 walk? Are you talking to talk? We're a kindness brand, We're an 499 00:31:03.160 --> 00:31:07.880 inclusive brand. So when we launched the foundation, like we had to move 500 00:31:07.920 --> 00:31:10.920 heaven and earth to get fifty one shades done. It was not it's not 501 00:31:10.960 --> 00:31:14.759 easy to do fifty one shades, it's you know, an incredible amount of 502 00:31:14.759 --> 00:31:17.359 work. But it was like there was no way we were going to launch 503 00:31:17.359 --> 00:31:19.960 where like everyone didn't feel that we had thought of them when we were making 504 00:31:21.000 --> 00:31:23.240 it. So that's got it. That's table stakes now. I think if 505 00:31:23.240 --> 00:31:26.640 you're not an inclusive brand like good Luck, but where it's going, I 506 00:31:26.680 --> 00:31:30.920 think technology can play in this space. Like you know, you start to 507 00:31:30.920 --> 00:31:34.400 look at companies who are doing really smart matchmaking and it's all algorithmically done with 508 00:31:34.559 --> 00:31:41.440 foundations and other things. They're getting really sophisticated obviously a r VR has some 509 00:31:41.559 --> 00:31:44.680 part. I still think it's small in this category, as it is in 510 00:31:44.759 --> 00:31:48.200 almost every other category, but you can see where it's going with virtual tryons 511 00:31:48.240 --> 00:31:51.200 and stuff, and it's getting better and better as far. And then it's 512 00:31:51.240 --> 00:31:53.359 really I think, like how do we take the consumer to a place where 513 00:31:53.640 --> 00:31:56.359 it's not you just bought it and you're gone, but like you have an 514 00:31:56.359 --> 00:32:01.039 ongoing relationship with that product as it evolves, because you know they evolved all 515 00:32:01.079 --> 00:32:05.079 the time. We don't stop tweaking the foundation once we sell it. I 516 00:32:05.079 --> 00:32:07.559 know you started off you know e commerce. Now of course you've launched Sephora 517 00:32:07.799 --> 00:32:13.000 and that that's amazing retail. What role do you think, does you know 518 00:32:13.240 --> 00:32:16.839 the online Dadsea channel play for for house laps? Yeah, I think it's 519 00:32:16.839 --> 00:32:22.160 our best storytelling, Like like Sepphor is an amazing story tell her, but 520 00:32:22.200 --> 00:32:24.240 they had to tell stories for a hundred brands, for two hundred brands whatever 521 00:32:24.279 --> 00:32:28.480 it is. Right, this is where like her fans come to us. 522 00:32:28.720 --> 00:32:30.240 You know they they're obviously going to suppor as well, but they come to 523 00:32:30.279 --> 00:32:34.240 our site. They come there like they know, like we have a phenomenal 524 00:32:34.279 --> 00:32:37.359 social team. God has also like evolved so much. Like if you think 525 00:32:37.400 --> 00:32:42.319 about her role over the last three years, she started more like she's here, 526 00:32:42.559 --> 00:32:45.400 right. You're a fan and Goga is up there and you kind of 527 00:32:45.400 --> 00:32:47.400 know her, but you don't. She's engaging right now. So she's on 528 00:32:47.400 --> 00:32:52.680 TikTok, Like this woman did this awesome TikTok about the foundation and how it's 529 00:32:52.839 --> 00:32:57.160 she she so she loves it and gotta comments on it. Well, the 530 00:32:57.279 --> 00:32:59.880 fact that has on these people who have loved her their whole life and a 531 00:33:00.000 --> 00:33:02.680 anthing else, like it's really amazing, and like then they know how involved 532 00:33:02.720 --> 00:33:07.039 she is, so like she's I think also involved corone approach. She's far 533 00:33:07.079 --> 00:33:12.400 more engaging with the customers because she's so proud of what we're building right now 534 00:33:12.680 --> 00:33:15.160 right And I think that's the other thing, Like if you're working with any 535 00:33:15.200 --> 00:33:17.640 celebrity, there are perfectionists and they're artists, So if they're not thrilled with 536 00:33:17.680 --> 00:33:22.079 whatever they're selling, it's not going to be as effective. And so letting 537 00:33:22.160 --> 00:33:28.839 her sorry drive that product from A to Z has made her so much more 538 00:33:28.880 --> 00:33:31.279 excited about the way she supports it. I agree it makes a lot of 539 00:33:31.359 --> 00:33:35.680 heads. Actually reaching out to your fans and kind of being part of them 540 00:33:35.680 --> 00:33:38.200 and not just feeling like, as you say, like you're actually separated from 541 00:33:38.240 --> 00:33:42.640 them, but you actually are engaged with the people that of course love your 542 00:33:42.640 --> 00:33:45.759 product. Kind of be part of the conversation. And I would actually be 543 00:33:45.799 --> 00:33:47.759 a conversation, which I think is really cool. Who are some of your 544 00:33:49.119 --> 00:33:53.599 role models personally when you think about product and customer experience. That's a great 545 00:33:53.880 --> 00:33:57.680 question. I don't know that I have a particular role model other than I 546 00:33:57.720 --> 00:34:00.240 have a particular I know how important it is. Like what I would say 547 00:34:00.279 --> 00:34:05.440 is when I was a thinking towards the latter part of my tenure there, 548 00:34:05.480 --> 00:34:07.599 I was running their green light and like I remember like playing through all of 549 00:34:07.639 --> 00:34:12.159 our games and kind of having a very candid conversation with Mark and be like, 550 00:34:12.159 --> 00:34:15.119 I think our game stink, right, Like, like have you played 551 00:34:15.119 --> 00:34:15.960 all of our games? And he's like, what do you mean? I 552 00:34:16.000 --> 00:34:20.280 go, like, we have this great central product management group. The problem 553 00:34:20.360 --> 00:34:22.000 is they give best practice to each other and they enact them in real time, 554 00:34:22.079 --> 00:34:25.760 so all of our games play exactly the same, right, And it 555 00:34:25.880 --> 00:34:29.440 was kind of this aha moment for me. I think it was kind of 556 00:34:29.440 --> 00:34:30.719 an AHA moment for him because he went home and played them and he was 557 00:34:30.760 --> 00:34:35.639 like, uh right. And I think from a product perspective for me, 558 00:34:35.719 --> 00:34:38.559 like I also just have learned over time, like everything else is a support 559 00:34:38.559 --> 00:34:43.000 function, right, Like I'm a support function if I'm in sales them support 560 00:34:43.000 --> 00:34:46.559 function because if your product is not phenomenal, your job is so much harder. 561 00:34:46.760 --> 00:34:51.639 And you know, so like we learned some hard lessons in honest when 562 00:34:51.679 --> 00:34:53.639 I got there, they were on a trajectory that was really high flying, 563 00:34:54.000 --> 00:35:00.440 and they had product hiccups, right, They had recalls and they had other 564 00:35:00.519 --> 00:35:04.480 things that hit them, and it stopped us in our tracks. Right, 565 00:35:04.960 --> 00:35:07.960 And so when we started this, like the one thing I will tell you 566 00:35:07.039 --> 00:35:10.679 from the get go, we worked with the best formulators in the world because 567 00:35:10.679 --> 00:35:14.800 I said, like, we cannot take chances on product that we've got to 568 00:35:14.840 --> 00:35:16.480 work. We tried and true, who can scale and you can do this 569 00:35:16.519 --> 00:35:21.519 stuff? Where I got that takeaway from I honestly can't tell you, like 570 00:35:21.559 --> 00:35:23.440 I don't know, I just know that I knew it was from day one. 571 00:35:23.440 --> 00:35:25.679 I knew it was critical. I think the only thing that gets in 572 00:35:25.719 --> 00:35:29.239 the way of that is ego, because nobody wants to think there are support 573 00:35:29.239 --> 00:35:31.400 function. But the fact of the matter is all gladly support great product all 574 00:35:31.440 --> 00:35:36.039 day. I hate supporting shitty products. It all comes back to the products, 575 00:35:36.119 --> 00:35:37.920 right, It all comes back to the product. How did you feel 576 00:35:38.320 --> 00:35:40.960 during the chapter two? I know it's only been a week, but had 577 00:35:40.960 --> 00:35:45.800 to launch go at Sephora. It went phenomenally well, and I think like 578 00:35:45.880 --> 00:35:49.760 they're they're very happy. We're very happy. I went into this launch thinking, 579 00:35:49.760 --> 00:35:52.519 Okay, it'd be great that we can have one product that's already cut 580 00:35:52.519 --> 00:35:54.880 because we had the we did launch with twenty five dwars with them earlier in 581 00:35:55.000 --> 00:35:59.639 the summer, and we just had this. We've just had a lot of 582 00:35:59.639 --> 00:36:01.639 good moment momentum lately, so I sort of feel like it's a bizarre world 583 00:36:01.679 --> 00:36:05.519 from where we were sitting a couple of years ago, and even last year, 584 00:36:05.559 --> 00:36:07.159 you know, I was it was like there were a lot of question 585 00:36:07.199 --> 00:36:13.079 marks, right, So just seeing the reviews, seeing customer feedback, seeing 586 00:36:13.119 --> 00:36:15.960 the way that the shoppers are shopping it, it's just been like really really 587 00:36:15.960 --> 00:36:20.039 positive. And uh, I can't go into like numbers, but I can 588 00:36:20.039 --> 00:36:22.079 tell you, like we can talk about being a best seller there right now, 589 00:36:22.599 --> 00:36:24.960 and to be a best seller. There is really hard to do. 590 00:36:25.119 --> 00:36:29.480 So so far, so good. That's great to hear. That's great to 591 00:36:29.480 --> 00:36:31.840 hear. What's one book that's inspired you personally? In one book that's inspired 592 00:36:31.880 --> 00:36:36.159 you professionally? So my wife would tell you, I'm not a big reader. 593 00:36:36.519 --> 00:36:37.679 She gives me grief all the time. She's like, you can be 594 00:36:37.719 --> 00:36:42.800 reading right now. Shoot Dog is a book that I loved by Phil Knight, 595 00:36:43.239 --> 00:36:46.159 and actually Bing Gordon made us all read Save the Cat. I don't 596 00:36:46.199 --> 00:36:50.280 know if you've ever heard of that book. It's a screenwriting book, and 597 00:36:50.320 --> 00:36:54.280 basically it's about like there's like ten architectures and all screenwriting, like all movies 598 00:36:54.320 --> 00:36:59.000 come down like ten basic architectures. Once you read it, it's really good 599 00:36:59.000 --> 00:37:01.239 if you're in any creative of class, like to read that book because it 600 00:37:01.239 --> 00:37:05.239 will just show you like, Okay, let don't overthink things like there's the 601 00:37:05.320 --> 00:37:07.800 boy meets girl, there's the reluctant hero, there's this that the other thing. 602 00:37:07.840 --> 00:37:10.920 So like, that book was very impactful on me as I think about 603 00:37:12.119 --> 00:37:15.840 business in general. Shoot Dogs probably personally and professionally. I think Save the 604 00:37:15.880 --> 00:37:20.719 Cat, which sounds crazy, but it's just because it's a screenwriting book, 605 00:37:20.719 --> 00:37:22.239 but you should read it because it's like, when you're reading here, there's 606 00:37:22.280 --> 00:37:25.440 a lot of like that's very interesting. Yeah, I mean it's funny because 607 00:37:25.519 --> 00:37:30.159 Shoe Dog is the most reference book whenever I asked this question, but say 608 00:37:30.199 --> 00:37:31.760 the Cat. No one has mentioned say the Cat, So you are very 609 00:37:31.760 --> 00:37:36.360 regional. My fatal question to you is, what's one piece of advice that 610 00:37:36.440 --> 00:37:40.360 you have four founders currently? One piece of movice I would have is I 611 00:37:40.400 --> 00:37:45.960 think, like, don't underestimate experience and pattern recognition. But that goes two 612 00:37:45.960 --> 00:37:50.320 ways. Don't underestimate it going towards the business, and don't underestimate it in 613 00:37:50.360 --> 00:37:54.559 yourself because we all become creatures of habit and we all become set in our 614 00:37:54.599 --> 00:38:00.719 ways and you need I was lucky to have somebody like Gaga who inspired me 615 00:38:00.800 --> 00:38:04.400 to like go out of my comfort zone. But I think it's very easy, 616 00:38:04.719 --> 00:38:08.559 especially as an you know, as an older founder, to not see 617 00:38:08.599 --> 00:38:12.639 that in yourself. And so I think that's the big thing. And like, 618 00:38:13.199 --> 00:38:15.440 and if you're in the VC world, you're raising one, you gotta 619 00:38:15.480 --> 00:38:17.320 go for it. If you raise money, you're going for it. You're 620 00:38:17.320 --> 00:38:21.360 not trying to build a five million dollar ten million dollar revenue business. You're 621 00:38:21.400 --> 00:38:24.400 trying to to really change an industry and you're trying to build a you know, 622 00:38:24.719 --> 00:38:30.719 a very massive revenue company. So like, don't go there. If 623 00:38:30.719 --> 00:38:32.639 you don't want to go there, Ben, thank you so much for your 624 00:38:32.639 --> 00:38:36.239 time. It's been a lot of fun. Thanks money, and there you 625 00:38:36.280 --> 00:38:37.679 have it. It was so much funch hatting with Ben. I hope you 626 00:38:37.719 --> 00:38:40.599 all enjoyed it. If you enjoyed this episode, I love it. If 627 00:38:40.599 --> 00:38:44.840 you'd write a review on the Apple Podcast. You're also welcome to follow me 628 00:38:44.960 --> 00:38:49.239 your host Mike on Twitter at Mike Gelb, and also follow for episode announcements 629 00:38:49.280 --> 00:39:04.320 at Consumer VC. Thanks for listening. Everyone want to be good. I 630 00:39:04.840 --> 00:39:10.079 want to I don't want to go