Friday, 28 October 2011

Battle of the lipstick names

Soap&Glory's Super-Colour Fabulipstick
I read with delight the recent news about Soap&Glory’s new cosmetic line, in particular the fabulously-named lipstick 'Super-Colour Fabulipstick'. I’m sure many Mary Poppins fans will join me in my glee. What a freakin’ genius name. I know Marcia Kilgore (owner of Soap&Glory and a beauty-business icon of mine) is partial to a darned good product name, with a cheeky innuendo here and a clever play on words there. But 'Super-Colour Fabulipstick' just took it to a whole new level.

So imagine my surprise today when I read British Beauty Blogger’s post on New York fashion designer Kate Spade’s lipstick line that’s heading to our shores called ‘Supercalafragalipstick’. At first I thought they were the same name, although upon a quick check I saw that Soap&Glory’s name had taken the play on words up a notch, so both are perfectly within their rights to use the names.
Kate Spade's Supercalafragalipstick

It just goes to show that good product names are like buses. You don’t hear of any for ages and then two come along at once.

I can only imagine the frustration when this kind of thing happens; I spend a lot of time generating product names for beauty brands as part of my job, only to have them declined by legal for having some tenuous link to another of the millions of beauty products already out there. It can take ages to name just one shade of eyeshadow. So for both brands I sympathise and hey, great minds think alike.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Beauty trend: Perfume’s new era

Vengeance Extreme, the fragrance by
Juliette has a Gun
I have a shameful beauty secret: perfume baffles me. Always has done. I understand the traditional way in which scents are combined using the ‘fragrance pyramid’ of top notes, middle notes and base notes, but the sheer enormity of fragrance notes and families, and indeed the sheer enormity of fragrances available, is overwhelming.

As if to deliberately confuse matters further, it is de rigour for fragrance houses to market their scents with whimsical abandon. Any beauty journalist or blogger will know that when a press release for a new fragrance lands on their desk, it will most likely weave a story of fairytale and fantasy about the story and character of the fragrance, with a fleeting mention about the actual perfume sandwiched somewhere in amongst it all.

During my years as Editor of Pure Beauty magazine, it became an art form to decipher a fragrance press release and translate the core facts about the fragrance to our readers. One press release that sticks in my mind was 6 pages long and only gave the information about the actual fragrance in the last paragraph. That was a bad day.

So when I came across a fragrance feature in Vogue magazine by Kathleen Baird-Murray entitled All Shook Up, I rejoiced - not only at the news that ‘a new generation of perfumers is putting the sexy back into scent and turning the industry on its head’, but also at the wonderfully descriptive yet understandable language in which Kathleen wrote about scent. Perhaps there is hope for me and my understanding of fragrance after all!

Here are a few excerpts of All Shook Up that I wanted to share with you:

"...So what does new-generation smell like? Be warned, it’s not for everyone – and that’s precisely the point. Forget sniffing perfume strips while being elbowed by shoppers in a mad rush of traditional department store perfumery testing – you need to make time. 
'The top notes of most fragrances, that initial hit, is usually very good, but often the heart and drydown are lost,' explains Penot [Fabrice Penot, co-founder of Le Labo], speaking of your average fragrance. 'Whereas we don’t give a damn about the top note. We’re not here to please you straight away; we’re here to form a relationship. If you give our fragrance a chance for a couple of hours, you get it.'

As such, Vengeance Extreme by cult label Juliette Has a Gun tantalises me when I apply it to go out one evening, an alluring thread of Bulgarian rose, patchouli and vanilla – but it is even better when I wake up in the morning, the perfume equivalent of just-got-out-of-bed hair."

"...Thanks to Mona di Orio, a thirtysomething perfumer who trained with the legendary Edmond Roudnitska when she was only 16, and her scent Les Nombres d’Or Tubereuse, I finally ‘get’ tuberose. Robert Piguet’s Fracas, the classic tuberose fragrance created in 1947, never did it for me, sacrilegious as it is to admit, but Mona’s blend of heliotrope, amber and benzoin is ethereal, dusty, mysterious and then, whoosh! Just when you’re least expecting it, there’s that little kick of Fracasness coming through, and I’m hooked.”

"...The actual construction of scents is getting simpler too. You'll find fewer ingredients - Illuminum fragrances have a maximum of eight, while Ormonde Jayne sticks to a maximum of 20 in strark contrast to the classics: 'If you look at a fragrance like Fracas, and all the iconic perfumes of the past, they had around 70-90 ingredients,' says Linda Pilkington [Ormonde Jayne's] founder."

You can read the feature All Shook Up by Kathleen Baird-Murray in full in the November 2011 issue of Vogue.

Monday, 17 October 2011

An interview with Carmine about beauty sampling boxes and revolutionising the online beauty landscape

Michiel Kotting, founder and CEO of Carmine

Freshly launched in the UK this month, Carmine takes beauty sampling to the next level and aims to revolutionise the online beauty landscape. Michiel talks to Your Beauty Industry about beauty boxes as a sampling tool, building an online beauty community and the potential of the internet for the beauty industry.

Congratulations on the launch of Carmine! Can you give us an overview of what Carmine is all about?
Carmine is a subscription-based service that helps consumers discover cool beauty products and brands and find out more about them. Carmine also has a fast growing online community of like-minded beauty addicts that get to interact with brands and each other about what they love best: beauty!

"We have created a beauty community where consumers can participate, express themselves and meet like-minded people"
What benefits does this kind of sampling offer consumers? 
The monthly box of five deluxe sized beauty samples we send to our consumers every month is a handpicked selection of great niche brands and beauty staples. This provides our users with fresh product ideas and the opportunity to try products before buying them. At the same time we make sure that they find out all they can about these products, and get special offers and other perks from the brands. Finally, we have created a beauty community where consumers can participate, express themselves and meet like-minded people. 

How can participating beauty brands benefit from your service?
By putting brands in touch with avid beauty users we enable them to expose their products and message to people who can become their most loyal customers. In gathering feedback from users we give brands important insights into how their products are being perceived, and by opening up a two-way communication channel, beauty brands can reach out to consumers with interesting perks and offers.

How do you think beauty box subscription sampling sits alongside more traditional sampling formats?
Box subscription as a form of sampling benefits from all the best that online has to offer while putting actual product in the hands of consumers – it’s in the comfort of your own home, it gets to know subscribers and therefore targets the service to their needs, it provides the ideal combination of product experience, marketing message, editorial, expert guided how-to and community. It’s two way instead of one way communication, so it empowers users.

Tell us more about Carmine's plans to build an online community.
We want to bring together all the best sources in beauty. This can include founders of exciting brands, experienced master perfumers or R&D leaders, stylists to the stars, bloggers, editors from major publications and style icons.

However, often the most relevant component is avid beauty users like all of us. By polling, sharing, filling out profiles and commenting, our users share rich experiences which benefit themselves, each other and participating brands. We have started simple with comment boxes, a Beauty Profile quiz and active participation on social media, but we have a whole range of tricks up our sleeve. Stay posted to find out more, or let us know what you find important.

"Online will play a much larger role for beauty; it is absurd that 30% of computers are sold online and yet less than 4% of lipsticks are bought in this way"

What do you think is the future of beauty online and which industries can we learn from?
Online will play a much larger role for beauty than it does today. It is absurd that 30% of computers are sold online and yet less than 4% of lipsticks are bought in this way, while beauty blogs attract more readers every day by far than technology publications. Recent developments in social media will accelerate this process. For me a good example is the fashion industry, where the landscape has been revolutionized in the past 3 years.

What does the future hold for Carmine?
We hope to play an integral part in changing how beauty develops online, and be a partner for brands, bloggers and consumers in accelerating the discovery and enjoyment of beauty products.

To find out more about including your beauty brand in Carmine's beauty box, contact


*I am working with Carmine on its blogger relations programme*

Monday, 3 October 2011

My place on The Guardian's Expert Panel: Ask the Experts: Blogging to Boost your Career Prospects

I was recently invited to join the Expert Panel for The Guardian’s live online Q&A: ‘Ask the Experts: Blogging to Boost your Career Prospects’. It was a great session that provided real insight into how to create and maintain a successful blog and use it to enhance your career opportunities.

I personally believe that to make a blog successful, you have to be passionate about your subject matter and committed to producing regular content that is exciting/informative/inspiring for your readers. If you start a blog with the sole aim to make money, I would hazard a guess that it will probably fail. If you are passionate about blogging then your audience should build naturally over time. Once you start to get recognised as an influential thought-leader in your field, commercial opportunities can follow. 

Here are a selection of my answers to questions asked on the day:

Has your blog ever landed you work?

My blog helps me get new clients because:

a) It is read by people in the beauty industry, so if a brand owner is reading it and happens to be looking for a beauty social media specialist or a beauty copywriter, they are much more likely to get in contact with me because 1. They know I exist and 2. They can see from my blog posts that I know what I’m talking about (hopefully!).

b) My blog demonstrates that I really understand the beauty industry and am very passionate about it. This helps when companies are deciding whether to hire me or another company, as it shows I am not just paying lip service to the fact that I love the work I do.

If I approach prospective clients for potential work I send them the link to my blog, for the same reasons above.

My blog also reminds existing contacts about the services I offer. There have been numerous times when I have needed to hire freelancers or suppliers and I cant remember the name of a company that does the work I’m looking for... so I’m sure people are the same with me. Whereas if my contacts have a blog post popping up in their inbox on a regular basis, they are much less likely to forget what it is I do. 

What strategies can bloggers adopt (aside from Google) to increase passing traffic?
  • Register your blog with website directories such as Wikio and Technorati, which will not only drive traffic to your blog but will also rank you... and if you start to feature in their top 50, top 20 or whatever, you can promote this
  • Promote your blog on social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and post a link to your blog every time you write a new post
  • Comment on other people’s blog posts that are in the same field and interest you – if you write interesting/useful comments this will lead the blogger and their readers to click through to your site
  • Put your blog link on your email signature, website, business cards, comp slips, Facebook and Twitter profiles, LinkedIn, etc - anywhere that you have contact with potential clients
  • Offer to contribute to articles in magazines and on websites about your specialist field and be sure to include your blog URL
  • Join in interative conversations online like this [The Guardian's live Q&A)
  • Offer to guest post on other blogs – just make sure you are offering them something that is beneficial to them and their readers

How can I enhance my blog posts for Google using SEO (search engine optimization)?
Google is by far the biggest driver of traffic to my blog, which is great because it means that my content is likely to be relevant to the person who is doing the searching.
To get picked up by Google:
  • Enhance your copy for SEO – don’t let it ruin the natural flow and conversational tone of your blog post, just make sure that the key words are in there where possible
  • Keep an eye on relevant newsworthy stories and write a post about it, giving your own slant on the story. This is because there will be large amounts of people Googling the news and so could be directed to your blog. I blogged about BB Creams before they launched, because I identified it as a key beauty trend about to launch in the UK. Sure enough it now is, and that blog post back in June still drives large amounts of traffic to my blog every single day
  • Make sure you add tags to each blog post to list each of the key subjects you talk about - these are ranked highly by Google
  • The images you use on blog posts are also picked up by Google, so make sure you name them with a relevant file name i.e. Garnier BB Cream.jpg, rather than Pic0001.jpg
  • Your headings are recognised as an important part of SEO, so make sure you call your blog posts something relevant such as ‘Retouching and disclaimers in beauty advertising as ASA bans Lancome and Maybelline ads’ rather than something like ‘Naughty Lancome at it again!’

To read The Guardian’s live Q&A ‘Blogging to Boost your Career Prospects’ in full, visit