More than anything, POP Beauty is a company born of necessity. Founder Sara Strand, a singer and makeup artist, recognized gaps in the makeup industry. “Being out there and doing makeup, you know certain things that you need, but are missing,” Strand says.
Whether painting makeup on a client’s face or choosing her own makeup for a performance, when Strand needed a certain finish or affect that wasn’t readily available, she just developed it herself.
When Strand first began developing her brand in 2002, there was a lack of colorful makeup on the market. At the time, consumers could either buy moody, dark makeup that was high-quality or they could buy vibrant, cheap makeup that would break in their bags. Strand’s goal was to merge the two by creating a line of colorful, long lasting makeup. She characterizes her agenda as attempting to put the fun back in makeup, and to introduce color to customers. Strand laments the overuse of browns and neutrals. “Actually, sometimes a bit of color can make you look a whole lot better,” the makeup maven asserts. POP’s color scheme is vibrant and playful, and Strand’s designs are smart. For instance, she packages convenient makeup kits in portable cases, lined with chic animal prints so the outside of the case is just as aesthetically appealing as the vibrant makeup inside. POP’s nail polishes have something for every customer, ranging from pretty pastels to electric blues to shimmery metallic hues.
When visiting the POP website, Strand’s message is clear. She wants her customers to “have fun with makeup,” and not take it too seriously. She encourages women to let makeup brighten their wardrobe and their day. Born into a “makeup guru” family, it’s no surprise Strand has found herself on this path. In 1998, she started a makeup brand with her two sisters called Pixi. When they started the business, Strand said she had no idea whether they were going to make money or go bankrupt the next day. Now, the brand is sold at Target.
Due to Strand’s creativity, experience and ability to network, POP has had an organic growth from a start-up to a well known business, with products available at Beauty 360, Sephora and Ulta. The brand just keeps growing. Recently, she collaborated with rap artist Rye Rye on a new nail color kit launched by Urban Outfitters.
POP Beauty gained much of its popularity through magazine promotion. Even though the company didn’t hire a PR company, Strand managed to pitch her product to magazine editors in London and New York. She admits starting a company is no walk in the park. It’s always a gamble because anything can happen. But in the case of POP, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. “Our branding has always been very strong,” Strand says. She encourages new entrepreneurs to take the focus off finances at the outset. Instead, “polish your vision.” Once you have a brand that is very unique and strong, then work through the financial aspect of your business.
And there’s more. “Whatever business you’re in, you can’t do everything on your own,” Strand aptly asserts. “It’s just about having the right people in the right places, really.” Personnel is important. But she also points out that when other people are added to the mix, they’ll often bring their influences in more areas than one. Whatever happens, don’t compromise the identity of your brand. “You have to stick to your vision, otherwise it gets diluted and you start looking like everybody else,” states this makeup maven. This coming from a company that sells products in every color shade imaginable, that seems like sound advice.
Written by: Mary Ronau
Edited by: Bridgette Larcada