Growing a D2C brand with HIGHR founder, Molly Hart.
HIGHR is a sustainable beauty brand, founded to innovate clean lip products for today modern woman. With social and environmental impact, accountability and transparency at its core, HIGHR became the first certified B Corp™ luxury lipstick business. Founded by Molly Hart in 2019, to create good, clean lipstick that people love and that would not cause any planetary harm, their lipsticks are formulated with 100% clean solar energy and produced a universal, minimal shade range, with each lipstick saving 5.8lbs of CO2.
For the last three years, Molly and the HIGHR team have focused on the D2C model sales model. Crafting their marketing efforts and maintaining a close relationship with their growing customer base. In one of the most competitive markets out there, Molly shared some insights about approaching D2C as a new entrepreneur.
What is HIGHR and how did the idea come about?
At HIGHR we make clean lip products using plant-based ingredients and a greener supply chain. We are the first certified B Corp luxury lipstick company.
The idea for HIGHR came about while I was pregnant and working for the biggest beauty companies in the world. Like a lot of women, I was super conscious of what I was putting in and on my body. I was changing my shopping habits and couldn't find clean makeup that performed to "traditional" standards that made me feel excited to shop. We focus on the lip category because it's the most invasive category in beauty - the only category we wear on our mouths every day!
What are your most memorable growth moments?
There are many memorable growth moments that are both good and bad. At HIGHER, our growth is heavily weighted towards a multi-tiered approach that fuels earned media and customer-advocacy. We still consider a customer sharing our products on social media as a memorable moment, as well as when a celebrity promotes or endorses the brand, as a result of our artist relations strategy. Consumer advocacy coupled with credible influencer adoption has created some big "best-kept secret" headlines in the press, which has resulted in massive demand spikes, which we couldn't keep up with during our first year.
What sales model has been most effective for you and why?
So far, we've focused on D2C. This has been an effective model for us in our first year because it lets us own the relationship with our consumers and learn from them. We've been able to use a consumer dialogue to tweak our pilot product along the way and get it to a place where we feel strongly enough to start approaching omni-channel retail in year two or three.
How did you know when you were gaining initial traction?
The most important metric to me in this first year has been our repeat customers. We didn't have a lot of marketing budget in our first year, but the customers we had acquired were coming back 3, 4, 5, up to 9 times to shop our only product in the market. When we reached 46% monthly repeats,I knew the product/brand / UX was doing its job. We then just had to attract more people to top of the funnel.
What do you wish you'd known at the beginning of your growth journey?
I wish I hadn't put so much money into Facebook and Instagram at the very beginning. Everyone assumes you put X amount into paid social to get Y back. That rarely works out, especially now. We kept our spend high hoping the algorithm would adjust and we’d see some returns, however, I should have pulled back. It wasn't until we regrouped and zeroed in on what unique value we have that we started seeing big ROI marketing results.
What one piece of advice would you give to founders who are trying to make the D2C sales approach work for their business?
Obsess over your user journey and make sure you're offering a great shopping experience. Your customer can go shop anywhere else, make them shop with you.
To find out more about HIGHR’s manifesto or to shop their range. Head to their website here. If you're looking for more inspiration about nailing your sales model, check out our Sales Model Teardown piece here. Or take a look at our interview with Daniela Paredes, CXO at Gravity Sketch on how they scaled the bottom-up sales approach here.
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