When Tom Shen and Kenny Leung stop their tech jobs—as senior advisor at IBM and enterprise strategist at Fb, respectively—to launch a immediate-to-client business in 2019, they had no concept that just a number of months afterwards, they’d run a flourishing luxury makeup-brush brand with waitlists of customer names numbering into the thousands. Currently, the duo run Rephr, a crowdsourced, pay back-what-you-want attractiveness instruments and skincare company that they continue to scale and iterate by leveraging knowledge and buyer feedback—and sector as a result of collaborative, responsive, term-of-mouth on influencer platforms, this sort of as YouTube and Fb.

“When we first started, we did not just glance at the splendor classification, we did everything—talked to authorities in property, electronics, and splendor,” Shen tells Rapid Enterprise. “What we located when we talked to gurus and makeup artists in the elegance marketplace is that they are pretty engaged, really passionate. I’d hardly ever achieved a extra passionate local community than the magnificence local community. They could convey to us just about every single detail of each individual one product start, who introduced a palette, who released a brush, and accurately what they’d do to strengthen on a products I’d under no circumstances viewed that ahead of.”

Tom Shen (left) and Kenny Leung  [Photo: courtesy of Rephr]

Any one who has even casually explored the beauty-influencer ecosystem has probably recognized how fierce and loyal that fanbase can be. From the get-go, Shen and Leung knew that collecting suggestions from a extremely engaged group would be critical to productive purchaser-initially merchandise improvement.

Armed with information culled from an considerable sequence of industry interviews with specialist make-up artists, Shen and Leung traveled to Japan to meet up with with brush manufacturers in Kumano—a compact city in the Mie prefecture, renowned for its artisan brush makers. They produced a number of prototypes, which they introduced to New York Metropolis to seed and test with makeup artists.

“Those 5 brushes were being the to start with variations of our products and solutions,” Leung says. “And, to this day, brushes 1 by way of five remain our bestsellers.”

Not however pleased with the effects of their data-collecting, Shen and Leung expanded their scope to prosumers and enthusiasts, getting a booth at the 2019 New York Make-up Show, where by they set up a “Free Brushes” banner and handed out their first 4,000 brushes free of charge, in exchange for on-the-spot suggestions.

“This allowed us to communicate to a broader group of people—in the thousands—just to make sure that the prototypes function not only for specialists, but also for fans,” Leung states. “We also took this prototype plan on the web, the place we sent out hundreds of free brushes in trade for feedback.”

[Photo: courtesy of Rephr]

Nowadays, dozens of merchandise launches in, Rephr nevertheless adheres to a fork out-what-you-want design for new items available on its site. Right now, for example, though there is a detailed MSRP of $26 on the brand’s hydration product 1., customers who do not want to fork out that quantity can elect to name their individual price and provide feed-back in lieu of payment. And what sort of responses are they getting in trade for handing out pretty much free tubes of made-in-Korea encounter product?

[Photo: courtesy of Rephr]

“I feel we’ve offered around 4,000 models now, and we’re starting up to get responses,” Leung suggests. “The primary matter we’re mastering is that men and women appreciate that it is incredibly suitable with make-up. That was the initial style and design intention—for us to have a moisturizer that really functions for our present purchaser base, which is make-up customers.”

These days, Rephr launches early indication-ups for its 2nd skincare product, an intensive hydration product 1., created in response to purchaser responses asking for a richer moisturizing working experience. Readily available to order afterwards this time, Shen and Leung strategy to continue on replicating their tech-influenced products launch model: Comments, iterate, feed-back, iterate—a merchandise cycle that retains Rephr’s core buyer base engaged and seeking forward to new drops.

“I consider they imagine of us as a pretty interactive company—that we’re pleasurable to perform with,” Shen claims. “They almost really feel like they are portion of the enterprise for the reason that they’re regularly offering us input on how to enhance. We actually pay attention, and they see benefits. It is a quite unique type of partnership.”


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