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The Elements That Matter: A Story of Everything Going Right

By: Alisa Marie Beyer
Posted: April 28, 2014, from the May 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.

When building an indie beauty brand, it can often feel all too easy to talk about all the things that can go wrong, when, in reality, “going wrong” isn’t always the case. Yes, I am finally writing about something going right! Many days, I feel like it’s my lot in life to be the unfortunate witness to the death of far too many beauty dreams—my least favorite part of my job. But sometimes, a brand comes along that just gets it right, and I love to stand up and cheer. So it here goes.

In the spirit of “things going right,” let’s visit a face and body care brand from Santa Fe, New Mexico, called Purity of Elements. Founded by consumer goods guru and former guiding force behind Rykä Footwear, Sheri Poe and a group of seasoned entrepreneurs from the Southwest, Purity of Elements is proving to a be case study in how to give a pure performance on the first take.

Executive Know-How, Operations and Capital

First, let’s clear up what getting it right can really mean. To me, it means the day you sit in front of an important buyer or editor, the brand is clear on what it wants from them and why. Further, the brand representatives know what the buyer or editor will ask for or need, and the brand will have all the answers ready to go. Additionally, the brand has nailed highly differentiated products and packaging; the right cost of good structure; building buzz and awareness; the operations, executive team and financing are in place; and there is a super sexy story that is being well told both verbally and visually. Lastly, the brand has that elusive “it factor” that separates good brands from great ones. Purity Elements is proving to nail what getting it right really means for an indie beauty brand today.

Without jumping too deeply into a too-long discussion about the importance of assembling a leadership team that actually understands the beauty industry and how to run a business, let me just say that few startups bring this type of firepower. As the founder of a successful women’s athletic company, Sheri Poe knows women and business. She has built and sold businesses several times over, and she has a cult following in connecting with women and helping them to be their best selves. Her business partner, Artesian Beauty, is a group of well-vetted executives with capital and experience running multiple business units, both profitably and long-term.

Here we need to acknowledge the critical importance of money in getting a beauty brand off the ground. Creating a great brand and products requires capital. Few, if any, brands can get off the ground right and make it to profitability without spending millions. The Purity of Elements executive team knew what it would take and committed to the investment.

Amazing Story

The Beauty Company’s mantra is simple: a brand is a story well told. At once creative and practical, Purity of Elements has both feet firmly on the ground. From the moment of its inception, the brand has stayed the course in creating (and now telling) a story that is compelling, fun, evocative and even slightly mystical. But that didn’t happen by accident. Purity of Elements’ story happened purely on purpose, with thoughtful creative input and collaboration, a ton of revisions and, perhaps, even a tear or two.

But that’s what birth is—lots of hard work for a final result that lives, breathes and grows to more beautiful heights with each passing year. With Poe’s compelling back story as the founder of Rykä Footwear, seasoned with the allure of Santa Fe and the actual ingredients of the products (stars in their own right), the Purity of Elements story creates the right kind of immediate emotional connection with consumers that matters.

In founding Rykä, Poe was able to create one of the most successful athletic brands for women in the world. Rykä has come to represent more than just exercise shoes; it represents a transformation for women that lets them go from mere exercise to mindful fitness—from casually taking a walk to purposefully running a marathon in a way that had never been done before.

By catering specifically to the needs, desires and unique challenges women face while exercising, Rykä broke new ground in the consumer goods category, and Poe is the reason for this mentality. This mentality, which percolated all the way down from corporate America to the new mom shopping for walking shoes after the birth of her first baby, is still evident today both in how Poe lives her life and how women approach fitness.

Poe is the mother of four and passionately committed to taking care of herself. She’s 61 but looks 41. And when I asked Poe why she has chosen this as her newest venture, she shared, “Purity of Elements is an amazing blend of Santa Fe healthy living and the ultimate skin care elements found in nature. Whether designing athletic shoes or skin care, I am passionate about giving women pure solutions to help them live their most beautiful, healthy life everyday, and Purity of Elements is a brand I want women to know about.” Poe is the proof that attitude, hard work and a touch of whimsy still go far in both life and business. And now she’s bringing this glowing arc to Purity of Elements in a vital, vibrant way.

Authentic, Gorgeous Collateral

Whether it’s the painted deserts or the saturated sunsets or the simple, bright red delight of strung chilies gracing every doorway in town, Santa Fe is a marvel, and luckily for Purity of Elements, this wonder lends itself perfectly to marketing collateral for a beauty brand. (It’s even better that it’s part of the actual product story—many of Purity of Element’s ingredients are sourced in the deserts of New Mexico.)