Mariya Nurislamova is not only the CEO of Deck of Scarlet but also the brand’s co-founder. She’s also co-founder and CEO of the perfume subscription company Scentbird.
“The concept for Deck of Scarlet came about when my co-founders and I were watching our favorite YouTube makeup artists,” explains Nurislamova. “Yes, the looks the YouTubers created were fabulous, but we couldn’t get past the fact that each of these tutorials cost over $200 to recreate.”
“That’s when we came up with the idea to develop beautifully pigmented makeup palettes featuring eye shadows, cheek colors, and lip colors - an all in one palette that you can create multiple looks with,” Nurislamova tells Cosmetics Design.
Late last year Walgreen launched a skin care line that was co-created with consumers, using their ideas, insights, and preferences to the maximum advantage—taking the idea of focus groups to a whole new level. “This is the first time we’ve codeveloped a brand with a community and are leveraging a community as part of marketing a brand,” Kristof Neirynck, now CMO of global consumer brands for Walgreens Boots Alliance (and previously global director of skin care), said at the time.
And in recent weeks, Good Housekeeping co-created a unique lipstick color with the indie natural beauty brand led by Ashley Prange, Au Naturale Cosmetics.
These are just a couple of examples of how beauty brands today are partnering with consumers, influencers, and media leaders on product innovation and development.
Deck of Scarlet is a brand that’s all about co-creation. “The influencer community has always inspired Deck of Scarlet with their bold looks, daring techniques, and of course, their sassy and individualistic personalities,” says Nurislamova.
“By understanding their true value in the beauty world, we collaborate with a top YouTube makeup artist on each palette launch, not only for their looks, tips, and trend advice, but also for their creative insights so the palette and the influencer are one and the same,” she explains.
“There is a delight factor to every collaboration, that’s the main reason why we collaborate with influencers…it serves as an endless source of creative inspiration for our team.”
“Any brand, no matter how good, has blind spots and a certain level of internal bias,” points out Nurislamova. And she goes on to outline the advantages that co-creation both with influencers and with consumers has for Deck of Scarlet.
“As a digital-first direct to consumer brand we have been innovative from the get-go, so it is only natural that we would choose to leverage co -creation as our prime strategy for new launches,” she says. “This helps us stay on trend and always delight our consumers. Our palettes are collectible, so they should all be telling a cohesive story but each new one should bring something different to the table. Influencers provide just that - a fresh perspective, every time.”
“When in doubt, we also ask our community for feedback through interviews and surveys. Interestingly, this makes our consumers perceive us in a more relatable and personal way. We care.”
The YouTube influencers that Deck of Scarlett partners with have a lot of creative freedom, if they want it. “As an emerging makeup brand, we don’t have set-in-stone guidelines when working with our Artists in Chiefs. It truly depends on the individual, what their strengths are and what they’re most passionate about (i.e. the colors, the textures, the designs),” says Nurislamova.
“Every collaboration is different,” she says. “We let the influencers be as involved as they choose to be, but in the very least they are very instrumental in shaping the color story of each palette and crafting the official tutorial - it is just as much about the makeup as about its application.”
Indie brands, innovation, and speed to market seem to be the trifecta in the beauty business these days. Nurislamova isn’t giving away any brand secrets, but she does go so far as to day that, “We have an exceptional team driving Deck of Scarlet to make sure that we’re ahead of the trend curve and the quality of our formulations are top notch. Very often our production process is the ‘all hands on deck’ type of endeavor, we have to push the envelope and challenge ourselves - on speed, timelines, formulations. But, at the end of day it all boils down to making something our customers love - this is our only measure of success.”
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.