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How trèStiQue Cracked the Code on the 5-minute Face

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  • treStiQue co-founders Jack Bensason and Jennifer Kapahi.
  • treStiQue's sets are designed around occasions and lifestyles.
  • treStiQue's focus on sets and customized tools has "cracked the code."

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Global Cosmetic Industry first spoke with trèStiQue co-founder Jennifer Kapahi in 2015 as the brand was launching. Less than two years later, working with co-founder Jack Bensason, the brand has doubled down on its goal of simplifying beauty routines for women. 

For trèStiQue, it’s all about the five-minute face, said Kapahi, recently. In response, the brand now offers configurations of its custom-engineered tools—including the Shadow Crayon, Tinted Face Stick, Eye Pencil, Lip Crayon, Concealer Crayon, Blush Stick, Highlight Stick and Bronzer Stick—in simplified sets.

The collections are tied to specific consumers, lifestyles and occasions and include the Jetsetter Set, Athleisure Set, Day-Night Set, Modern Mama Set, and face and eye sets. Each set packaged in the brand’s lightweight and portable Le’Pak makeup bags, which feature a mirror.

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The focus on sets means that trèStiQue has become less reliant on hero products or one-hit wonders

When trèStiQue launched, the brand sold individual SKUs and a handful of sets. trèStiQue then built its online customization tool, which allowed consumers to build their own sets—known as the Essential 8—for $175, or 30% off the price of the individual components. Kapahi explained that those sets “cracked the code” for the brand and now represent nearly half of trèStiQue’s business.

Approachable Innovation

The focus on sets means that trèStiQue has become less reliant on hero products or one-hit wonders by servicing both product junkies and consumers with little beauty know-how. The sets are approachable, allowing trèStiQue to capture a consumer beyond the beauty cult shopper, Kapahi explained.

Sets are perfect for first-time buyers who are attracted to products that help them simplify their beauty routine.The tools are hygienic for on-the-go wear and don’t require the use of one’s hands for application.

Kapahi has the know-how to innovate formulations and tools, as well as the key relationships with vendors to make that innovation a reality.

trèStiQue was also able to grow by investing in sampling programs via platforms such as Birchbox and Ipsy, which generated much-needed trial and review. The brand’s performance-based value proposition led to significant levels of repurchase, Kapahi said. And, by establishing itself first as direct-to-consumer, trèStiQue has achieved a more one-on-one dialogue with its consumers.

Like many of its indie peers, trèStiQue produces step-by-step educational video content and markets almost exclusively with video. This strategy is critical because stick-based beauty routines are relatively new, especially for non-beauty experts.

Unique Tools Fuel Differentiation

TrèStiQue's evolution has driven its growth. The brand was the 2015 winner of a QVC Beauty Quest award at the CEW Beauty Insider Awards. In July of last year, the brand launched on QVC and, in January 2017, on Sephora.com and in stores.

Kapahi explained that Sephora scouted the brand’s Magic Mattifying Balm & Blotting Sheet Duo, a two-in-one stick mattifier with built-in blotting sheets—an example of the brand’s focus not just on formulations, but on unique custom tools.

Kapahi custom designs each product launched by TrèStiQue. Today, all of its SKUs feature the brand’s signature magnetic sealing cap.

Innovation Drives Sales and Retail Relationships

Kapahi explained that trèStiQue’s sticks can be formulated to deliver any texture and format, including powders. In the end, she said, it’s all about the simplicity of the delivery system.

Kapahi has the know-how to innovate formulations and tools, as well as the key relationships with vendors to make that innovation a reality.

Innovation excites shoppers seeking something new and unique.

Innovation has a real impact on sales, said Kapahi. For instance, the built-in blotting sheet cartridge was created to support the ease of consumers’ beauty routines. By making routines easier with this “Swiss Army knife of makeup,” the brand was able to support the development of consumers’ beauty routines. This habit-building in turn supports replenishment.

Meanwhile, the same innovation excites shoppers seeking something new and unique. Innovation also strengthens relationships at retailer partners like Sephora and QVC, which are great venues for newness. Kapahi added that, as a brand co-founder, she ensures that she brings her retail partners new innovation without betraying their brand ethos.

What's Next

As for the future, trèStiQue will work to bring its sets to retailers, who tend to be wary of products outside their sweet spot of $20–$30. The brand is also poised to make several senior strategic hires, introduce a user-generated content platform, and launch loyalty programs to further encourage replenishment and support the next phase of growth.

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