This week we are graced with the presence of Grace Fodor, a former industry expert and businesswoman who founded the innovative, cult new makeup brand Studio 10. Taking the UK by a storm, having only debuted in March last year, igniting a cult-frenzy with instant celebrity, MUA and press fans including India Knight, Sunday Times Style, who claimed it was ‘genius’. Sit and read through our discussion on how Grace got started, her brand ethos and how she moved with the digital era.
So you have been in the industry for a while developing and structuring other brand’s products, what made you decide to take the step and create your own?
Simply, the older I became, the more I realised that the makeup industry wasn’t talking to me. Cosmetics has predominantly been aligned with youth, you only need to look at how they’re being marketed.It struck me that there was no valid reason why. You don’t choose the same clothes in your forties as you would have at 17. It’s the same in beauty; needs and expectations change. I wanted more than products with added anti-aging ingredients, but ones that specifically correct and cover the signs of aging.
The anti-ageing market is said to be worth $191bn with an average global growth rate of between 7-10%. I wanted to develop a range aimed squarely at 35 plus; it was a huge opportunity and one that had not been exploited.
How does your day start and how does it finish?
I tend to end my days very late so my mornings vary very much. I try to do the school run and got for a run with the dog as much as I can but it really depends how late I’ve worked. Quite often I can still be working at 1 or 2 am. We’re doing business all around the world means that I’m often found sending emails in the early hours of the morning – I don’t mind it though.
Last year you had your first full trading year. What has been the hardest challenge you have had to overcome?
The business has fast-tracked and we’re 80% beyond our target for this year. Growing as quickly as we have had been a blessing and a curse. The biggest challenge has been balancing stock and our supply chain, making sure we always have the right amount of stock to support our growth.
What has been you’re winning moment so far?
We’ve enjoyed a few. Having our clinically proven serum chosen as QVC’s product of the month was a big one and in our very first weekend India Knight, one of my favourite writers, called us ‘genius’. I was so proud.
What is on the horizon for 2017, are you planning to expand your product line?
We are indeed, we try for a few big launches each year, although unlike colour ranges, our cosmetics are solutions based, so they tend to have year-round appeal. We’ve got a brand new website in the offing and some incredible partnerships worldwide, so it’s a really exciting time for us.
Where would you like to see Studio 10 in the projected future?
In all the major retailers globally, but more than that I want it to be ‘the’ go-to brand for making women feel they’re most beautiful at any age. Older women have been made to feel invisible to the industry for so long, it’s my aim to see that become a thing of the past.
How much market research did you go into the industry prior to launching Studio 10 and how did you manage to assess your demographics and target audience?
Every step of our process is built on research, analysis, and insight, sitting at the very heart of the company.
We researched the market, dynamics and competitor landscape but also the characteristics and psychology of our target audience; how they use beauty products, their daily routine, buying patterns and how they respond to media. Most importantly we wanted to understand how women feel about aging, beauty, and self-esteem. Meeting the intellectual and rational needs of our customer, but also the deep-rooted emotional and psychological was absolutely vital in delivering on our product promise.
Which product is your favourite from your own range?
For me, it’s the Miracle Effect Priming Serum clinically proven to reduces wrinkles by up to 16% in 15 minutes while delivering visible anti-aging long-term results in just two weeks. For us, and because it is our first skincare product, it is about qualifying and quantifying the results. Its supercharged breakthrough formula dramatically improves the signs of aging, completely redefining the complexion, while instantly giving the skin a boost.I love it!
Which stores currently stock your range and who would you like to add to the list?
The beauty retail market is fascinating at the moment. Traditionally, in retailing high-end beauty, you’d partner with a high-end store. Now you’ve got retailers like M&S building assisted self-select beauty halls carrying a mix of luxe and high street, as well as Tv home shopping channels like QVC.
I like the mix of TV home shopping with QVC and complementing it with ‘bricks and mortar’ through M&S. We’re also online at many online beauty retailers. In Australia and South East Asia, we’ve partnered with Sephora and have expanded in the US too.
I’d like to add the other territories for Sephora, and in the UK feel SpaceNK would be a good fit; they don’t have a brand like Studio10.
With the new age of digital era, how have you found social media platforms have benefited your overall exposure to Studio 10?
With multi-million marketing budgets spent by the beauty industry, it could have been hard to compete as an embryonic brand. But with the mass proliferation of social media, it’s created more of a level playing field for niche brands.
We leveraged bloggers and video to build an engaged, active community who then drove store traffic for us. Using makeup artists, media and celebrity third-party endorsements carefully and strategically, we’ve attained kudos and credibility envied by many more established ranges. Social has given us a community of savvy, educated beauty lovers who don’t hesitate to feedback what they like and don’t – it’s the best form of real-time research there is and if they love something, it has a real impact on sales.
What are your top 5 rules in business?
1.If you fail, don’t get down, get up and do it again. There isn’t an entrepreneur alive who didn’t get it wrong at least once. It’s what you learn from it that counts
2.Be nice. It sounds so trite I know but honestly, remembering simple manners and considering the efforts of others makes a huge difference in how people respond to you
3.Surround yourself with a great team; you can’t do it alone and are only as good as the people around you. Build that team slowly.
4.Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. I know it can be tough to push yourself forwards, network or ask for a better deal but if you don’t, no one will make it happen for you.
5.Dress for the role!