Luxury Beauty Retailer Charts New Path to Growth


The luxury brand Violet Gray is based on its content-driven strategy with two new monthly series. He is simultaneously exploring private label products and e-commerce joint venture partnerships.

Violet Gray currently hosts her own magazine-style blog, Violet Files. It includes series like Violet Vanities, where celebrities and beauty industry insiders offer insight into their bathrooms and the products they use. In a new monthly series called Screen Test, Violet Gray takes that same interior approach and doubles it. Screen Test kicked off on February 25 with KNC Beauty Founder Kristen Noel Crawley featuring a photoshoot, a shopping page (called Shop Her Bag) of the products she keeps in her purse, and an interview with 16 questions between Noel Crawley and designer Virgil Abloh. .

“Screen testing is deeply rooted in Violet Gray’s DNA,” said Vicen Akina, Creative Director of Violet Gray. “This wave of content [allows us to find] new ways to blend content and commerce, showcasing our beloved brand partners and finding new muses to inspire buying behavior. “

In addition to Screen Test, Violet Gray plans to have its “own version of QVC,” called Behind the Counter, consisting of shorthand content on Its storefront in Melrose Place, which is closed due to Covid-19, will serve as a movie studio.

Cassandra Gray, Founder and CEO, said the retailer is embarking on a “Violet Gray 2.0”. She noted that the accelerated transition to e-commerce in 2020 has been accompanied by growing challenges and the focus is now on scaling this side of the business. Areas of interest include customer service, customer experience, and backend technology. Violet Gray also doesn’t ship internationally, and Gray said the retailer is in the early stages of exploring an ecommerce partnership, which could lead to a joint venture. Between 2016 and 2017, Violet Gray was discussing a similar concept with Amazon to allow Violet Gray to sell luxury goods on the platform, but the deal fell through, Gray said.

Gray declined to comment on the company’s performance. the Los Angeles Times noted in a 2019 story that Violet Gray made $ 10 million in revenue in 2018, while WWD reported in 2020 that the retailer expected to make $ 15 million last year. WWD also reported that Violet Gray investor Shiseido was seeking to divest his minority investment in the company, he did in 2018. Although Gray has confirmed that Shiseido is still an investor, she declined to speak about the conglomerate’s involvement in Violet Gray’s future business. According to Pitchbook, Violet Gray secured a $ 1.35 million debt financing loan in May 2020 from Assembled Brands, a finance company, and Agility Capital, a venture capital fund.

“At this time last year, most of our customers were still shopping at the brick and mortar beauty counter,” Gray said. “It’s about growing the business and improving itself, which requires a lot of improvement, innovation and technology. As we evolve the business, we want a partner to evolve e-commerce distribution rather than doing it ourselves. “

In other news, Gray said the retailer is close to meeting its pledge to stock at least 15% of black-owned brands, adding that Aurora James’ racial justice movement has been a godsend. for the company as more and more brands are reaching out to sell via Violet Gray. Violet Gray is also planning to launch her own private label products in a category “beside beauty,” Gray said, although she declined to provide further details.

“We have been organizing products for eight years and have learned a lot of products and categories. When we can’t find the best-in-class products, we want to be able to incubate them, ”she said.

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