When Tom Shen and Kenny Leung quit their tech jobs—as senior specialist at IBM and business strategist at Facebook, respectively—to start a immediate-to-client company in 2019, they experienced no notion that just a handful of months afterwards, they’d run a thriving luxury makeup-brush manufacturer with waitlists of consumer names numbering into the hundreds. Now, the duo operate Rephr, a crowdsourced, pay-what-you-want magnificence equipment and skincare firm that they keep on to scale and iterate by leveraging knowledge and consumer feedback—and market by way of collaborative, responsive, term-of-mouth on influencer platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook.
“When we initially started off, we did not just appear at the natural beauty classification, we did everything—talked to professionals in dwelling, electronics, and magnificence,” Shen tells Speedy Business. “What we located when we talked to gurus and make-up artists in the splendor business is that they are very engaged, extremely passionate. I’d never ever satisfied a more passionate local community than the natural beauty community. They could convey to us each individual one element of each solitary products start, who released a palette, who introduced a brush, and precisely what they’d do to increase on a item I’d never noticed that before.”
Everyone who has even casually explored the splendor-influencer ecosystem has in all probability seen how intense and loyal that fanbase can be. From the get-go, Shen and Leung realized that accumulating feedback from a quite engaged neighborhood would be essential to profitable customer-very first product advancement.
Armed with info culled from an comprehensive series of marketplace interviews with specialist make-up artists, Shen and Leung traveled to Japan to meet up with with brush companies in Kumano—a small city in the Mie prefecture, renowned for its artisan brush makers. They developed several prototypes, which they brought to New York Town to seed and test with makeup artists.
“Those 5 brushes were the initially versions of our solutions,” Leung suggests. “And, to this day, brushes a person through five keep on being our bestsellers.”
Not nevertheless happy with the outcomes of their info-gathering, Shen and Leung expanded their scope to prosumers and enthusiasts, having a booth at the 2019 New York Make-up Exhibit, in which they put up a “Free Brushes” banner and handed out their first 4,000 brushes gratis, in trade for on-the-spot comments.
“This authorized us to converse to a broader team of people—in the thousands—just to make absolutely sure that the prototypes work not only for specialists, but also for lovers,” Leung says. “We also took this prototype application on the web, exactly where we sent out 1000’s of absolutely free brushes in exchange for feed-back.”
Now, dozens of merchandise launches in, Rephr still adheres to a spend-what-you-want model for new goods out there on its site. Appropriate now, for illustration, although there is a listed MSRP of $26 on the brand’s hydration cream 1., shoppers who really don’t want to fork out that amount can elect to identify their personal rate and provide feedback in lieu of payment. And what variety of responses are they receiving in trade for handing out pretty much no cost tubes of made-in-Korea confront cream?
“I assume we’ve sold over 4,000 models now, and we’re starting to get opinions,” Leung states. “The principal matter we’re understanding is that people appreciate that it’s extremely compatible with makeup. That was the first structure intention—for us to have a moisturizer that seriously functions for our present shopper base, which is make-up end users.”
Currently, Rephr launches early sign-ups for its second skincare item, an intensive hydration product 1., designed in reaction to purchaser opinions asking for a richer moisturizing experience. Out there to obtain later this time, Shen and Leung prepare to continue on replicating their tech-motivated merchandise launch model: Opinions, iterate, responses, iterate—a merchandise cycle that retains Rephr’s core shopper base engaged and hunting ahead to new drops.
“I think they believe of us as a pretty interactive company—that we’re pleasurable to work with,” Shen states. “They pretty much really feel like they’re section of the corporation since they’re continuously offering us enter on how to enhance. We truly hear, and they see outcomes. It is a incredibly exceptional sort of romance.”