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E.L.F. Cosmetics: Beauty for Less

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Since becoming a guest blogger for www.eyeslipface.com (E.L.F. cosmetics) last year, I have been intrigued by the company. How do they create and sell such fabulous cosmetics for as little as $1 a piece? The packaging is gorgeous and the products I have tried can’t be beat.

I recently had the opportunity to meet and interview the bright, dynamic co-founder of this young and growing company–Joseph Shamah (referred to by everyone as Joey). We met in the company’s brand new beautiful offices where I got to see the whole line of products and meet some members of his team.

brushesShamah started the business as a college student at New York University and is still under 30 years old. He has a background in consumer goods and apparel, but found an opening in the high quality/low priced make-up market and created his product line in conjunction with cosmetics guru Scott Vincent Borba (Hard Candy, Shiseido, and Neutrogena).

E.L.F. was launched in 2004 as an “opening price point” (aka inexpensive) cosmetic brand that was then only sold online. E.L.F. products are currently sold at a variety of discount stores across the U.S. and in Europe. The products are also sold at select Target stores. According to Shamah, E.L.F. cosmetics mission is to “educate women about make-up and make-up application.” E.L.F. prides itsE.L.F. on providing high quality/low priced products that make it easy for women to achieve a variety of looks. For example: women can purchase a five-piece makeup kit for $5 (including brushes) to be used to create a smoky eye perfect for evening.

The E.L.F. customer is primarily a woman who appreciates value. The customers love the smart packaging, and the “cheap/chic” cachet that the brand connotes. Loyal customers range from college students, women who are new to the workplace and moms on a budget. Shamah has also created an E.L.F. studio line which is slightly more expensive ($3 a product vs. $1 for the E.L.F. line). The Studio line is marketed as the professional line of cosmetics.

Shamah does not spend money on advertising the E.L.F. brands. His customers typically learn about the products through word-of-mouth or through the many magazines that feature the company’s products in editorial pieces. The company does a lot of marketing via social media and is active on Twitter and Facebook. E.L.F. does a great job of increasing traffic through their beauty blog and their popular “refer a friend” promotions as well.
Next up for Shamah’s E.L.F. brand is likely to be a foray into skin care products, and continuing to expand E.L.F. products distribution across the Asia and Europe.

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