Fancy Face founder Brittany Gray took an unusual career path to become a beauty entrepreneur. “As a teenager and in my early 20s I worked as an actress in Hollywood movies like Chicago with Catherine Zeta-Jones,” Gray said. “I saw the transformative power of makeup and realized I had a natural knack for doing makeup for myself and others, so I spent time getting formally trained and certified as a professional makeup artist.”
Gray started up Fancy Face in 2006 as a luxury hair and makeup service, covering everything from bridal and red-carpet events to editorial shoots and television. Since then it had become one of Toronto’s most prestigious beauty team, made up of 30 seasoned experts.
Strategic adaptation during COVID
This success was followed by the launch of a signature beauty line in May 2020, a makeup and skin care range made with high-quality, natural, and cruelty-free ingredients, as well as the opening of a boutique and beauty salon in Toronto, the Rosé Room.
“By introducing a product line to our service business, our company had strategically adapted during the Covid-19 pandemic and allowed us to grow our business two-fold despite an economic downturn,” said Gray. “In addition, we expanded to sell our signature line of cosmetics and skin care through our e-commerce website—an important undertaking and a huge step in the right direction.”
No desire to launch seven different eye creams
So how did Fancy Face differ from its competitors? “When it comes to our service offerings, we strive to be experts in what we do. For example, we style hair but don’t cut it,” said Gray.
“For our cosmetics and skin care product range, we only have standout products in each category. I have no desire to launch seven different eye creams. I take the time to formulate and make sure our ingredients are impactful. I'll wait anywhere from a year to a year-and-a-half before I release something to ensure it's the best on the market and that it actually works. I focus on what is efficacious, so I’d say being solution-oriented makes us unique.”
And when it came to NPD, the customer was always at the front of Gray’s mind as a busy mom who rarely had time for herself. “I want them to feel luxurious,” she said. “If that's the only moment in the day that they pamper themselves, I want it to be impactful.”
We don't overcomplicate things
The brand also aimed to combine customer education with its retail goods. “We're not merely attempting to upsell. We explain why this is a good product, this is how to use it, and this is how you can look and feel your best. We don't overcomplicate things.”
One topic that Gray felt had become too complex was the clean beauty movement. “Clean beauty has become a greenwashing of the beauty industry,” she said. “While some companies choose to go down the clean beauty path because it aligns with their values and beliefs, other businesses are only taking advantage of this movement with misleading marketing—throwing around words like ‘all-natural’, ‘eco-friendly’, and ‘green’.”
Sustainable packaging is key for our customers
Another industry trend Gray spoke passionately about wa sustainability and this had been a focus for all Fancy Face product packaging.
Its recyclable shipping boxes were made from 100%-recycled materials and produced by a carbon-neutral and environmentally conscious company, printed with soy-based inks, sealed with vegetable-based glue, and made locally in Ontario. The bubble mailers were made with +80% recycled plastics and free from harmful chemicals. The brand only used tissue paper printed with soy ink that came from forests that were ethically managed, harvested, and certified by the FSC. And finally, the packing peanuts were biodegradable and decomposed in water. Packing peanuts normally took 500 years to break down, but these were made of static-free organic starch and could be dissolved in water.
Saving valuable time for the contemporary woman
Fancy Face recently hosted a holiday pop-up to give customers an immersive retail experience and this opened up Gray’s eyes to see the many possibilities within the retail space. “Looking ahead, my focus is primarily on expanding our reach,” she says. “We have a sizeable following in Ontario, but I’m constantly looking for ways to get new eyes on the brand. I would ideally like to open three to four additional Fancy Face store locations spread across the Greater Toronto Area and I'm also beginning to consider how we want to be positioned geographically for our brick-and-mortar spaces.”
Gray viewed partnerships as another potential growth opportunity and she was continually on the lookout for retail partners who could offer complimentary products to Fancy Face’s offering.
“My view is that if someone enters Fancy Face and purchases our skincare and makeup but still needs a gift, my goal is to give them the complete shopping experience with the help of our retail partners,” she said. “For example, our customers could include a claw clip and some scrunchies, bath salts, or a candle with a really cute match set at Fancy Face and needn’t look elsewhere. My future focus in this area is all about: ‘How can I save valuable time for the contemporary woman?’ We want to make Fancy Face a one-stop for everything our customers might need.”