When Tom Shen and Kenny Leung quit their tech jobs—as senior specialist at IBM and business strategist at Fb, respectively—to launch a direct-to-purchaser business in 2019, they experienced no idea that just a few months afterwards, they’d run a flourishing luxurious make-up-brush brand name with waitlists of customer names numbering into the hundreds. Today, the duo operate Rephr, a crowdsourced, pay-what-you-want natural beauty tools and skincare company that they continue to scale and iterate by leveraging info and shopper feedback—and sector by way of collaborative, responsive, phrase-of-mouth on influencer platforms, this kind of as YouTube and Fb.
“When we 1st started out, we did not just glance at the natural beauty group, we did everything—talked to experts in dwelling, electronics, and splendor,” Shen tells Speedy Business. “What we uncovered when we talked to authorities and makeup artists in the beauty field is that they are very engaged, really passionate. I’d in no way fulfilled a a lot more passionate local community than the elegance local community. They could tell us just about every one detail of each individual single products start, who launched a palette, who launched a brush, and particularly what they’d do to boost on a product I’d hardly ever seen that before.”
Any person who has even casually explored the attractiveness-influencer ecosystem has in all probability discovered how fierce and faithful that fanbase can be. From the get-go, Shen and Leung realized that accumulating opinions from a incredibly engaged local community would be essential to effective customer-1st products progress.
Armed with info culled from an considerable series of sector interviews with expert make-up artists, Shen and Leung traveled to Japan to satisfy with brush manufacturers in Kumano—a small metropolis in the Mie prefecture, renowned for its artisan brush makers. They made various prototypes, which they introduced to New York Town to seed and examination with make-up artists.
“Those five brushes ended up the initially variations of our items,” Leung says. “And, to this day, brushes a single through five stay our bestsellers.”
Not nevertheless content with the benefits of their knowledge-accumulating, Shen and Leung expanded their scope to prosumers and lovers, having a booth at the 2019 New York Makeup Show, the place they set up a “Free Brushes” banner and handed out their to start with 4,000 brushes free of charge, in trade for on-the-spot opinions.
“This permitted us to converse to a broader team of people—in the thousands—just to make guaranteed that the prototypes work not only for specialists, but also for lovers,” Leung suggests. “We also took this prototype plan on the internet, in which we sent out countless numbers of free of charge brushes in exchange for feedback.”
Now, dozens of products launches in, Rephr nevertheless adheres to a spend-what-you-want design for new merchandise readily available on its web site. Proper now, for example, although there’s a shown MSRP of $26 on the brand’s hydration product 1., prospects who don’t want to fork out that volume can elect to identify their individual selling price and present comments in lieu of payment. And what type of comments are they receiving in exchange for handing out just about totally free tubes of produced-in-Korea face cream?
“I imagine we’ve bought about 4,000 models now, and we’re starting to get feed-back,” Leung says. “The principal matter we’re mastering is that people adore that it is incredibly appropriate with makeup. That was the initial structure intention—for us to have a moisturizer that actually functions for our current client base, which is makeup end users.”
Now, Rephr launches early signal-ups for its second skincare products, an intense hydration cream 1., produced in response to purchaser suggestions inquiring for a richer moisturizing working experience. Obtainable to invest in later this period, Shen and Leung program to keep on replicating their tech-encouraged merchandise start product: Feed-back, iterate, feedback, iterate—a merchandise cycle that keeps Rephr’s main purchaser foundation engaged and on the lookout ahead to new drops.
“I feel they think of us as a very interactive company—that we’re pleasurable to operate with,” Shen states. “They virtually experience like they’re part of the organization since they are consistently supplying us input on how to increase. We basically listen, and they see final results. It is a quite special kind of romantic relationship.”