Soft Services Co-Founders Rebecca Zhou and Annie Krieghbaum Explain What Has Changed


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After meeting while working at Glossier, Rebecca Zhou and Annie Kreighbaum went their own separate ways in the DTC world. But in 2019, they decided to get back to beauty. Almost a year ago, they launched their bodycare startup, Soft Services, which offers products for skin conditions like body acne and keratosis pilaris in swanky packaging you’d want to display on your counter instead of hiding it in your medicine cabinet. Investors have taken notice: the brand has already raised $3 million in seed funding.

The idea was inspired by Krieghbaum’s beauty writing years at Into the Gloss, where she learned that articles about common skin problems were incredibly popular, but products offering solutions were hard to come by. Rather than join the bandwagon of Gen Z-focused brands, Soft Services calls its approach “elastic branding,” when it comes to its target demographic — and it doesn’t omit millennials. .

In the most recent episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast, Zhou and Kreighbaum discuss the need to remember millennial consumers, their approach to fundraising, and why they aren’t taking a “purist” of the DTC.

Millennials’ need for body care solutions
Kreighbaum: “If you asked a 6-year-old what a 30-year-old would wear, it would be a Theory button-down shirt and a suit for everyday work. Corn [as a 30-something], I want to wear halter tops all the time and backless dresses. I don’t think millennials will suddenly mature or [be] to wear more covered clothes. And I was like, ‘Wait, why is body acne the only thing I haven’t understood as a beauty editor in all my years of doing this?’ And so we started pulling on that thread.

The new definition of DTC
Zhou: “DTC is a funny term that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For us, we are a DTC company, even if we sell through other distribution channels. The idea of ​​DTC is to be informed about your customer, to be informed by data and [about] try to have a two-way conversation with your customers. DTC 1.0 or 2.0 took a very purist perspective: that you could only build a business and understand your customer if you only sold through your channels. Today, we seek to think about it more holistically.

The obsession of Gen Z investors
Kreighbaum: “What I see already, going out and fundraising and speaking with the press, is that they’re always like, ‘Well, what’s your plan for Gen Z?’ And I’m like, ‘What? Why are you asking? What about millennials and all these people on top of millennials? They’re still here. Millennials, in particular, are this incredible group that buys things online.’”

Fighting industry greenwashing
Zhou: “What we hope to do is help the customer understand or [gain] knowledge [about what we have] preview and visibility on. When you see another brand that just says “sustainable,” you double-click and say, “OK, what do they mean by that? »

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