Laura Bronner is the co-founder at Gloss48 and a beauty industry entrepreneur. Prior to Gloss48, Bronner helped develop upscale nail and waxing concepts MiniLuxe (Boston), Nail Bar (Chicago), and Trim (Chicago). Before earning her MBA from Kellogg University, Bronner worked for Gap Inc. as a Merchandise Planner, and Ernst & Young as a Consultant. Bronner is a big fan of women entrepreneurs, and a self proclaimed Momprenuer, beautyprenuer, and startup junkie.
Molly Flynn: You worked at Gap Inc. as a Merchandise Planner, and Ernst & Young as a consultant prior to becoming a beauty industry entrepreneur. What inspired the transition?
Laura Bronner: When I was at Gap I learned that I loved the retail industry, but I really wanted to do it from a startup perspective. I went to Kellogg to get my MBA with the idea that I would later start my own business. While I was there I incubated an idea for a teen nail salon concept that I planned to open when I graduated. I applied to be a receptionist at local nail salon that I thought was doing a really great job from a business perspective. I ended up doing a consulting project for them instead. The owner of the salon approached me about becoming her business partner. I helped her hone a concept called Nail Bar and a waxing only concept called Trim both located in Chicago. From there I helped build MiniLuxe, an upscale nail and waxing chain in the greater Boston area.
M: How did you get involved with MiniLuxe?
L: I heard through a mutual connection about what my current business partner, Jill, was doing in Boston with Miniluxe. It was a similar concept from a business consumer standpoint to what I was working on in Chicago. When we connected she was working on hiring a team. I got on the phone with her and had no intention of changing jobs or moving to Boston, but by the end of the conversation I realized that it was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up. Jill hired me to handle marketing and operations at MiniLuxe.
M: What inspired the Gloss48 concept?
L: When Jill and I were at MiniLuxe we carried really amazing, hard to find indie beauty brands. Our customers came in to our store for a variety of beauty services, but we wanted to offer the products that we used so that they could experience these brands at home. We were located right down the street from a Sephora and several large department stores so we had to carry products that they didn’t carry. Every time we brought a new brand in our customers were really excited about it. We found that the more interesting the brand's story, the more our customers responded to it.
We quickly realized that there was a consumer who wanted access to these indie brands, but they had trouble accessing them. Meanwhile, we found that most of these brands were struggling. It was difficult for them to compete with the L’Oreal, and Estee Lauder brands that are carried in Sephora. We estimate that about 40% of the market is made up of indie brands, but they have a hard time reaching the consumer. We wanted to solve this problem.
M: How do you choose the brands that are sold on Gloss48?
L: We are a very edited website, all of the brands we sell are tested by the Gloss48 team. We make sure that the level of quality is there. It also has to have a really great story. Most indie brands start when the founder has some sort of need or passion. We currently have a database of over 3,000 brands that we would like to work with in the future.
M: Has it been a challenge to convince people to purchase beauty products online?
L: That was a concern when we first started out. We’ve learned that this was a misconception. Women are getting used to buying everything online and buying a beauty product is a no brainer. Online beauty is estimated to be growing 25% annually for the next few years. The reason why beauty has been one of the last verticals to make an impact online is that large retailers like Amazon, Department Stores, and even Sephora, were selling beauty products like they were selling all their other products. It was ineffective marketing. Our feeling is the right way to sell beauty online is to give it a little bit of extra content. There’s a way to sell online that’s just as effective and certainly more efficient than being in a store. For instance, with foundation we have some really creative ways to match women online. We carry a brand called Alison Raffaele - one of our best selling foundations. They have endless Pinterest boards of celebrities that you can match your skin tone to so you know which shade of foundation to buy. I actually bought the foundation I’m wearing now that way.
Also for someone like me who doesn’t have a ton of free time, I don’t want to spend my Saturday in a Sephora. It’s not a pleasant experience for me. I would also never ever use a tester in the store. If you’re one of those women who tests out lipsticks in Sephora, I would strongly recommend not doing that.
M: Why have women been so receptive to Gloss48?
L: If you talk to women about their last beauty purchase, it was probably a trusted source that recommended it to them. It might have been a recommendation from their sister, their favorite beauty blogger, or an editor in a magazine. If they found out about it through a source that they trusted they didn’t need to try it first. Our goal at Gloss48 is to be that trusted source.
M: I love the voice you’ve created around Gloss48.
L: We want our voice to feel authentic. We feel that there is too much beauty speak that is very feminine and soft. That is not the way my co-founder and I talk about beauty. We don’t think it is how many other women do in real life either. When you go to the Gloss48 website we want you to feel like you're shopping for beauty products with your best friend.
M: Why do you love working for a startup?
L: I enjoy being able to do things on a daily basis that have a significant impact on the business. There’s not too much red tape to go through. When I was at the Gap we would have 5 or 6 meetings on the same topic just to get approval for something. Gloss48 has the potential to make a huge impact in the beauty industry and that is thrilling.
M: You’re a huge supporter of women entrepreneurs. Why are you passionate about this?
L: I’ve received so much help and guidance from other women along my unconventional career path. I’m really amazed at how supportive everyone I’ve met has been. I feel compelled to pass along that favor. I have an open door policy. I’m always willing to talk to other women and entrepreneurs.
M: What’s your advice to young professional women trying to carve out their career path?
L: Start networking before you think you need to. People are afraid of networking, but thinking of networking as a dirty car salesmen thing is kind of an antiquated viewpoint. Take a holistic approach to it. Ask others how you can help them, not how they can help you and it will get you far. That being said, if something is important to you don’t be afraid to ask for it.
M: Top 5 beauty product essentials?
L: This is a really challenging question! Let’s agree that these are my top 5 beauty essentials at the moment – I’m constantly discovering new products!
1. Face Moisturizer: Vertere Transformation Cream battles acne and wrinkles – and it’s SPF 15. It’s my wonder product. Just about everything makes me break out and it cleared up my skin overnight!
2. Body Moisturizer: Skin, An Apothecary Soy Body Whip is the perfect consistency! It’s light enough to use in the summer and heavy enough for Boston winters. I love the Aspen scent because it’s so clean and fresh. It use it every day – without fail.
3. Anti-Aging: I just started using Cecilia Wong’s Black Currant Serum and I can already see the difference! I use it at night and I notice a beautiful glow in the morning! Plus, it smells amazing!
4. Tarina Tarantino’s eyeshadow palettes are gorgeous – inside and out! They have the perfect amount of subtle shimmer. I use the Jewel Shadow Palette to brighten my eyes and make me look a bit less tired!
5. I love Senna lip gloss. I might own it in every color. It’s so smooth and glossy without being sticky.
M: Spill your favorite beauty secret.
L: My manicures last about 3 days, on average. I learned that if I use a topcoat to freshen my manicure about 48 hours after I get my nails done, it lasts and extra 2-3 days. Life changing!
Shop for all your beauty essentials at www.Gloss48.com