When Five-time Emmy Award winner, author and beauty entrepreneur Eve Pearl was a child, she was extremely self-conscious. “My mother works at the Lincoln Center, so I grew up in the theater around actors and dancers,” she recalls during our interview at this year’s Cosmopack New York show. “At the same time, I was dealing with serious acne and skin issues and having a difficult time finding products that worked for me. I’m allergic to virtually everything. So I started making my own cosmetic formulations to cover up my acne without causing more skin irritation.
“With my mother’s help, I used my experience formulating my own makeup to start a career as a makeup artist,” Pearl continues. “I started working on TV, and when I worked on The View—10 years—I needed to find solutions for women of different ages, skin tones and issues, many of which weren’t addressed by the cosmetics solutions on the market.”
Pearl created a “base face” solution that would help people look their best without looking overly made up. This base face solution, which comprises her Salmon Concealer and HD Dual Foundation, became the core product line for Eve Pearl Beauty Brands.
Today, the Eve Pearl brand is a direct-to-end-user success story. Pearl closed her New York retail store, earlier this year, to invest more of her time and efforts to the channel that’s growing the most revenue for her brand, direct-response selling—online and through television. “Many of us don’t realize the power of QVC,” says Pearl. “It does about 6 billion dollars in sales in the U.S. market alone and 9 billion globally. But the U.S. is the big monster, 6 billion dollars a year. Somewhere around 2.4 billion of that is from Internet sales.”
QVC Inc. claims its full fiscal year set an American business sales record and a significantly larger footprint than many established traditional retailers. QVC’s on-air programming reaches more than 98 million U.S. households and approximately 195 million cable- and satellite-connected homes worldwide, and its award-winning, online counterpart, QVC.com, attracts more than 6 million unique visitors each month. A significant part of the retailer’s strategy is its narrative selling approach.
“The QVC selling approach is terrific because I get to share my story and I share how to use the product correctly,” Pearl says, expressing gratitude to Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna for connecting the brand with the home shopping giant. (Daniela Ciocan, Cosmoprof’s marketing director, also made Pearl’s interview with Package Design possible.) “The challenge when working through salespeople or training teams is things can get lost in translation. But if I am talking directly to the cosmetics user, I can pick up my HD Dual Foundation and I can explain to you how to use it with the dual-ended brush and how to use my side one, side two, smile, two-step technique and then reinforce that message with a little insert included in the packaging.”
Pearl explains that the brand is able to succeed despite being the most expensive cosmetics line on QVC because she resists the temptation to focus on product churn. Instead, Pearl stays true to her brand promise to deliver a simple system with easy-to-use products that offer quick and consistent results, and offers skin care benefits. “All buyers, retail buyers and end users, always want something new,” she opines. “Look at how long our attention span is. But answering that demand by delivering new product after new is just an automatic response. We are more strategic because if you’re basing your product line and branding on new, you can’t succeed because there is no loyalty, there’s no reason for me to have to come back to you because people will just look for the next new thing. My goal always is to help the end user understand how to use a product and provide you with something amazing that will make your life easier.”
“It’s challenging to stay focused,” she adds. “So I like following my favorite smart phone’s methodology by maintaining my core product and keep making it better. You know that I loved my iPhone 5, but I now have the 6. When the 7 comes out, I’ll buy that product because I like the core offering, and when the 8 comes out, I’m going to get that too. Like Apple, I made something that was easy to use even though it looks complicated and I strive to always improve upon my core product. This approach not only helps build brands but also sustain them.
“We make sure that we’re known for something,” Pearl explains, “and then we can add to that. And what better way than innovative packaging and new ingredients!”
Pearl did exactly this when re-launching her HD foundation in a 40:60 compact. The cream foundation was introduced in a compact that evenly divided two foundation colors. “Most of us have been taught that our faces are blank canvasses where the foundation should be one color,” Pearl says. “Using two shades, instead, will allow you to have great coverage create definition with contouring by using a product that’s actually good for your skin. The two shades can also allow you to balance off those days that you may be a little darker because you’re in the sun or you’re a little lighter because you haven’t.
“An issue we found when launching the 50:50 compact was that users were finishing one side more quickly than the other,” she explains. “What some business owners might see as a complaint, I see as an opportunity. So we came out with this compact, which is the same core product—our HD Dual Foundation, but is in a package that better reflects how people are using the product. As a brand, I’m not interested in one-time purchases. Understanding how your customers use the product versus how you expect them to use the product helps create brand loyalty.”
In addition to increasing the amount of the darker foundation in the compact, the HD 40:60 Dual Foundation has 20% more product overall. A larger latex sponge was developed for better application, and the compact’s bottom tray was enlarged to accommodate the larger sponge, even when wet, and redesigned with ventilation holes to enable a wet sponge to air out.
Quest for kaizan
Pearl and her team turned another problem into a plus when the brand received complaints that the Texas heat was quite literally melting the product. “Years ago, when we first started shipping the cream foundation nationwide, we were receiving complaints that the customers were opening shipments—left outside in the Texas sun on a 104-deg day—to find the foundation was melted. It was big drama.”
It was also an opportunity for Pearl to extend her product line without violating her brand-loyalty-building ethos of sticking to core product offerings. “Sometimes you can take the things that are like the most dramatic and what you think is a problem, and create not only a solution for that particular logistical problem but make a new product out of it,” Pearl says. “Not only did we take care of the customers with the problem and create a solution with an improved shipping method, but we used our new understanding of the ingredients in that formulation to create another product. You see, our formulations use natural binding ingredients instead of parabens; natural products change. When we saw how that natural ingredient behaved when heated, we used it to make a whole line extension of liquid HD foundation.”
This is why, Pearl warns against the urge to refine a product to perfection. “If you wait to make things perfect, you will never make anything,” she advises. “Remember it’s OK to take a chance. You will probably be changing things up anyway, and if you get your product out there, you’ll have a better idea of which direction to go. And know that even if there are no problems the first time that you launch a product, they’ll always be ways to improve it!
“This is why you should buy shorter manufacturing runs of packages when possible,” Pearl adds. “It might be more expensive on the face because you are paying for dies and molds, but shorter runs make brands more nimble.” The real magic starts, she explains, “when a brand understands that every day and every interaction is part of quest for continuous improvement.
“We read every customer communication, we listen, and we try to comply with their needs,” she says. “We’re interested in building a relationship and emotional connection with each user, so every single product that we create will be more than a response to a trend or fad. Our brand and our products are in it for the long term.”
The design and development team then combines end-users’ feedback with its own testing, including learnings from Pearl’s work as a professional makeup artist. Pearl has worked for NBC’s “Today” show, ABC’s “The View,” “Good Morning America,” the “Academy Awards,” etc., and with such cultural icons such as Arianna Huffington, First Lady Michelle Obama, Meredith Vieira, Justin Timberlake, Barbara Walters. “Working on live TV shows, I need good products that work quickly and last,” she says. “So our cosmetics sizes are a bit smaller that’s because they are double-pigmented, which means I need half the amount of time to apply it. When you are readying someone for live TV, every motion counts. I also need to be able to easily carry my products with me, so I made the packages as small as possible.”
Not only does Pearl test the cosmetics, she leverages her entire team to test products. “Every single thing is tested by our great team,” Pearl explains. “They have to use every single product because, say, you have a beautiful lipstick package but it’s not until you used it several times that you realize that it’s not uncomfortable to hold but it’s also not really comfortable to use. I’m big on function. Our products and packaging have to work. So we take them to the beach, we let our kids open and close them, we make sure the men on our team can easily use products without breaking them. Our men’s market is our fastest growing customer segment, so our products have to durable and not bust when they are squeezed by strong male hands but also won’t break women’s fingernails when opened or closed.
Collaborate with direction
“That’s why the team is so important,” Pearl explains. “David Dustin [Eve Pearl’s chief operating officer] helped created the final design of the 40:60 compact, to make sure that the fill will look nice and even, and the snap works properly. Growing and developing your team is so important.
“I played basketball in school,” Pearl says, “and I bring that mindset to how I build a team. Everybody has a role, so everyone should be different. You don’t want people who are exactly like-minded because you want every person to push each other to be better.
“And while everyone’s input has to be valued, you don’t necessarily give the same percentages to everyone’s input but you always listen,” she adds. “I remember working with a great mentor of mine. He said that if you stop someone on the first bad idea by saying, ‘It’s a terrible idea,’ you are likely never to get any more ideas. But if you let them give you say ten ideas, three ideas might be amazing. Then you find that one person who shares your vision. They might have different ways of getting to that vision, but they believe in that one single vision so all the collaboration isn’t direction-less.”
She also suggests inviting packaging suppliers into the collaboration process. “Brands are buyers as well,” Pearl says. “It’s up to us to take responsibility to protect ourselves and say, ‘Help guide me in the right direction because I want to build a relationship with you,’ to our suppliers in the same way that we seek to build relationships with retail. Imagine you are about to launch a big, high-end product line, and all of a sudden, a month before you finally launching yours, another brand uses the exact same base packaging component in a mass line. Wouldn’t it been helpful if you asked your supplier if someone else is thinking about launching something in the same base component? I understand that outside collaboration at the very starting point can be challenging because it can quickly become overwhelming and confusing, but make sure you’re doing it. I invite collaboration not at the beginning of the project, but at the next level.”
Don’t shy away from challenges
“In most industries, women are not taught or encouraged to respond when directly challenged,” she says. “Sports, which have been cut from many school programs, was one place where girls were taught to fall and get up and where they can learn to keep on going when someone isn’t kind and says you’re terrible.”
So Pearl encourages women to speak up and take on challenges, even if they are with projects outside the company. “Sometimes, they want to take days off to pursue another project,” she says. “And I’ve sensed that they were too scared to tell me. Whenever possible, I say, ‘Please go for it’ because I wasn’t always encouraged to take on second projects.
“Also, when I worked on TV, I was working my full-time job at ‘The View’ and ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire,’ while opening a retail store in New York City,” Pearl recalls. “I was constantly working 20-hours days, but I was also around women such as Meredith Vieira, Barbara Walters and Joy Behar who also work two or three jobs. Working with these women and watching other people who only have one job, I learned that you need to have two passions because that one job could go away at any time.”
The second passion project that Pearl is working on now is achieving balance between her professional and personal life. Success at that project still eludes her, but Pearl says that she’s on the road to improvement. I have no doubt that she’ll make it happen.