January 15, 2019
Indie Spotlight: Aether Beauty to Enter Sephora, Nordstrom and Anthropologie
Crystal infused makeup brand, Āether Beauty, was
developed by Sephora’s former Head of Product Development in 2018 on Instagram.
Today it’s looking to be the next Urban Decay with its line of high-performance
Bridging the gap between
wellness and color cosmetics, cosmic-inspired indie brand, Āether Beauty, has
tapped crystals for their beautifying powers for an all-natural line of eyeshadow
palletes. Aimed at consumers who are concerned about ingredients but don’t want
to sacrifice efficacy, the digital-first brand has expanded sales from its
website aetherbeautyco.com, to clean beauty retailers Credo Beauty and The Detox
Market. Partnerships with Neiman Marcus and Urban Outfitters have followed, and
in the coming months the brand will roll out at Anthropologie, Sephora and
Nordstrom. Āether Beauty was developed by Tilla Abbitt, who worked as Sephora’s Head of Product Development for Accessories
and Makeup Collaborations for seven years. Here, Tilla spoke to Beauty Insider about white space for the
brand, retail partnerships and future plans.
Beauty Insider: Tell us about Āether Beauty’s point of
Tiila Abbitt: Āether Beauty is a supercharged, sustainable
makeup brand. All formulas feature crystal-charged pigment, meaning
certain cosmetic grade gemstone powders are infused into formulas for skin
care benefits. For example, the Rose Quartz Crystal Gemstone Palette has
rose quartz infused in each shade because it helps to prevent
wrinkles, redness and fine lines, while also helping to promote love and
self-love. Additionally, the line is vegan, cruelty-free and made
with organic and fair-trade ingredients. The brand is also zero waste and
is made with 100 percent recyclable packaging. Plus, 10 percent of
proceeds of each pallet goes to different charities that we partner with such
as The Water Project, which provides clean water to communities in
BI: Why was it important for you to create a
TA: I felt
like the clean beauty space truly lacked storytelling and emphasis on both
sustainable packaging and formula. I’ve also been a vegetarian since I was 14
and always lived an organic lifestyle, so I volunteered to wear another hat
while at Sephora, becoming the Head of R + D for Sustainability for the
entire retailer on top of my normal day to day role. It drove me to research
and learn beyond chemical formulations to truly understand how unsustainable
packaging is in cosmetics. I visited recycling facilities to learn how things
are recycled, and what simply goes straight to landfill. The EPA just announced
that one-third of landfill waste is from personal care products. It was
intensely eye-opening, and it sprang the idea to create a truly sustainable
brand, from beyond clean to sustainable sourcing ingredients and packaging.
BI: Āether Beauty started as a DTC brand. Why
did you decide to enter brick-and-mortar?
TA: DTC can
be challenging for a new brand, especially a self-funded indie brand who is
just starting, unless you already have a really big audience like Kylie Jenner.
Retail helps drive a sense of credibility and awareness for a start-up. It
also allows consumers to have a personal experience with the brand, such as
seeing shades, testing efficacy and falling in love with products immediately.
A lot of our DTC customers always tell us that it’s much more beautiful in
person, so entering retail helps more consumers experience that. Also, from my
years of experience with Sephora, I know DTC can really drive this aspect,
especially if you have the right partners.
BI: What are the price points?
are $58. The brand is positioned approximately 20 percent higher than Urban Decay
and Anastasia Beverly Hills because of the clean, organic and fair-trade ingredients
and sustainable packaging. It’s more expensive to produce, just like organic
food is about 20 percent higher in cost to conventional food. Also, the fill
size is more generous and about one and a half times the fill of a normal
Anastasia palette, so consumers are getting more product overall for their
dollars. We have launched individual replacement shadows as well, which are
currently all sold out, to help with the sustainability footprint of the brand.
BI: Tell us about marketing/communications plans.
TA: We’re an
Instagram-first brand. We drive awareness and exposure through inspiration
collages that incorporate our brand attributes such as cosmos, crystals and
inspiring messages that promote self-esteem and empowerment. We also have a
strong focus on influencers, makeup artists and celebrities, mostly
vegan/cruelty-free focused, but also mainstream beauty lovers, who receive our mailings.
We’ve been blessed with a lot of love from the influencer community, which we
believe speaks volumes about our brand. We also love print, T.V. and
online, so we have some traditional public relations outreach in place. I’ve
been on a lot of desksides and love meeting face to face with media to really
explain the brand. Our goal for 2019 is to expand our digital marketing
footprint to drive added brand awareness and drive overall reach to targeted
BI: How many SKUs are available? What upcoming
launches are in the works?
TA: Currently, there
are two SKUs: Rose Quartz Crystal Gemstone Palette and the Crystal Grid
Eyeshadow Palette. We’re in the works of launching a Summer Solstice Eyeshadow
Palette in April. We will also be expanding into other color makeup categories
in July 2019, Holiday 2019 and even more for 2020.
BI: Are you able to provide your sales projections?
TA: We ended
2018 with more than six figures in sales in less than six months. We’re
projecting to see sales in 2019 exceed $1 million.
BI: What challenges is the brand facing as it
continues to expand?
TA: I'm a
product developer, so I have about two years of product that I am developing.
But, all those launches take money; therefore, bootstrapping can be a bit of a
challenge. I'm currently entering my first round of investment
BI: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from
launching your own brand?
TA: If you
are a start-up like me, no matter how many hours you work, you can end up
working 24 hours, seven days a week and still not get to everything you need to
do. Prioritization is always key. Plus, you need to learn on the fly. There are
so many aspects of the business that you need to be aware of and know how to
manage properly that you truly need to be able to learn quickly in order to