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How two women started a multimillion-dollar company in their 30s

Anastasia Santoreneos
·4-min read
Lauren Ireland and Marianna Hewitt started a sold-out skincare brand. Here's how. Source: Facebook
Lauren Ireland and Marianna Hewitt started a sold-out skincare brand. Here's how. Source: Facebook

The Jet Lag Mask lasted two weeks on the shelves in US Sephora stores before completely selling out, and was a hot product in Australian Mecca stores when it launched down under.

Created by then-32 year-old Marianna Hewitt and then-31-year-old Lauren Ireland in 2018, the face mask cased in a shiny blue tube quickly became something of a household name. But Hewitt and Ireland didn’t know they were creating an item that would garner such a cult following at the time, they simply wanted to make something their customers would enjoy.

“You never really know what will pick up, or why it does, but I think that we were really fortunate as a new brand that it happened with our first product,” Hewitt told Yahoo Finance.

Ireland added, “We launched our brand solely with this product, which was a risk, but it also had the potential to have a high reward”.

The bloggers were introduced by a mutual friend after moving to Los Angeles, conjured up the idea to create their own skincare line when Ireland fell pregnant, and wanted to switch her routine to cleaner products.

After cold-calling multiple skincare labs, the pair chose a manufacturer that aligned with their ‘clean’ values. They conducted some trials, until landing on the Jet Lag Mask.

Today, Hewitt and Ireland have a combined following on Instagram of 1.3 million, while their brand, Summer Fridays, boasts 420,000. That’s a huge feat given the brand only launched two years ago.

But while you can’t dictate what product will have the “it” factor, you can manufacture the hype around it.

Hewitt says Summer Friday enjoyed a “hyper-focus” around its brand launch, and its unique packaging was also a big driver.

The Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask. Source: Mecca
The Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask. Source: Mecca

“We specifically chose to use blue packaging, in an aluminium tube, so it really stood out digitally,” Ireland said.

“The product name also resonated widely with our community — jet lag is something we all know well — whether from traveling itself, or out of exhaustion from juggling the many roles we share at home and at work. Even as our product range has expanded, our Jet Lag Mask remains at the core of who we are as a brand.”

Summer Fridays now employs 24 people, and while they haven’t disclosed their sales results, industry sources say they company has turned over US$4.8 million (AU$6.8 million) this year.

How can I start my own beauty brand?

If you want to enter the beauty space, the most important thing to do is to create something new and different, rather than duplicate what’s out there, Hewitt said.

“Of course there are so many face masks that exist out there, which is how we launched our brand, but we did try to make it different,” she said.

“Whether it's packaging or naming or the ingredients that you use or the price point you choose to launch at, try to make your product and brand different from other brands out there.”

You need to create your own niche, style and marketing campaigns: “It’s so people will resonate with your brand and be so connected to you because they can only get it from you.”

And if you think the beauty space is too crowded, think again.

“When you create something new, and with a fresh perspective, there will always be room for you and your ideas,” Ireland said. “I think it is a perfect time to be a women entrepreneur. Our communities are eager for women to lead — particularly to lead with passion, kindness, and inclusivity.”

What do I need to know about starting a business in beauty?

The biggest mistake you can make in the beauty industry is to never change, Hewitt and Ireland said.

“Our biggest learning has been to be flexible and to be open to change and be open to pivot,” Hewitt said.

“It's great to have these incredible ideas that you really want to see executed, and at times you do want to stay true to the things that you believe are the right decisions, but there are other times when things come and you have to pivot or change or tweak things and a lot of times it's for the better.”

Planning ahead is also key, particularly when the digital space is constantly shifting, Ireland said.

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