Strategic Management: Why Āether Beauty is launching new product in the midst of a pandemic

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

photo courtesy of Āether Beauty
photo courtesy of Āether Beauty

Related tags coronavirus Indie beauty Leadership Color cosmetics

The entire world is going through a health and financial crisis. In some industries, business has come to a complete stop. In others, workers have never been busier. And somewhere in between are indie beauty brands led by founders facing a lot of new challenges and decisions to make.

Cosmetics Design checked in with Āether Beauty founder Tiila Abbitt to learn how the eco-friendly color cosmetics startup is fairing and making business decisions during the Coronavirus global health and financial crisis.

“People are hungry for knowledge right now and engagement,” ​Abbitt tells Cosmetics Design. “I think people are eager to learn to change overall buying habits and reset their needs.”​ And this sort of thinking isn’t new for Āether Beauty. It’s in large part why the brand exists at all.  

“Clients want a truly sustainable beauty brand that also has incredible clean formulas that perform,”​ says Abbitt, “[that’s why I left [a corporate beauty job] to prove you can be a sustainable clean beauty brand that performs incredibly well.”

This week Āether Beauty launched two different Crystal Charged Cheek Palettes and has plans to add a third cheek palette this summer. And in mid-April, the brand will introduce a new eyeshadow palette, the Joshua Tree Desert Matte Palette, to the collection.

Here, Āether Beauty founder Tiila Abbitt shares her strategy for running a beauty startup in the current moment:

Cosmetics Design:
Why have you chosen to go ahead with new product launches during the Coronavirus crisis?

Āether Beauty founder Tiila Abbitt:
As a small business, our products take at minimum 6 months to produce, so it's not like we could have stopped production since they were already finished. We can't hold onto sellable goods since we still have to pay for the goods.

And our clients have also been hungry for newness, these new launches were specifically designed per clients’ requests and our pre-sale immediately sold out in less than 24 hours.

Cosmetics Design:
How are you addressing shipping and distribution limitations?

Āether Beauty founder Tiila Abbitt:
The great thing about being a small business, is that we are small, nimble, and scrappy! We don't use a distribution center; we fulfill orders ourselves. And we are a team of two people, so one person can do it and not have to interact with others or be unhealthy or unsafe.

On the flipside, we had to say no this year to a lot of paid opportunities [this year] because of the fact that we are a bootstrapped business. But sometimes these things happen for a reason; as the majority of those events have been cancelled, we would have lost a lot of money if we had said yes.

Cosmetics Design:
How are you addressing partnerships with now-closed retail stores?

Āether Beauty founder Tiila Abbitt:
We have been working with our retail partners on digital partnerships, IG Stories takeovers, IGTV and IG Live have been great to discuss the brand, for tutorials, as well as sustainability, which is currently on a lot of clients’ minds due to the health crisis.

Cosmetics Design:
How are you marketing to your core consumers in a way that suits the brand and takes the current health and financial crisis into account?

Āether Beauty founder Tiila Abbitt:
As the founder I've been talking digitally to my clients every single day. I've seen a ton of increase in DTC sales, over 150%.

Since it's April and Earth Month, as a brand that is earth conscious year-round, we have a lot to educate our clients on, especially in the beauty industry where sustainability is not very predominate. And people are eager to listen and tune in.

Cosmetics Design:
Are there other advantages or opportunities indie brands have in the current situation?

Āether Beauty founder Tiila Abbitt:
Since we are such a small team, we can react quickly to what is going on in the world​. We don't have to vet things through large marketing teams, we do it all ourselves. Which is why we were able to launch the Stay Healthy, Stay Home bundle [a collection of the brand’s 3 top-selling products],  proceed from which support the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund at the World Health Organization.



Deanna Utroske is a leading voice in the cosmetics and personal care industry​ as well as in the indie beauty movement. As Editor of, she writes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.

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