Conventional beauty products and standards are getting a green makeover. Tara Foley is the founder and CEO of Follain, a natural beauty retailer (think Sephora, but only for products that undergo strict testing standards for safe and effective ingredients). Foley has been a leader in the natural beauty space since founding Follain in 2013 and this year is anticipating 200% year-over-year growth.
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Foley knew she wanted to change the world, and she learned that she could do it in the realm of health and wellness. “The idea for Follain really came about back in 2009 when I started reading these articles about how the beauty products I loved were not supporting a lifestyle of health and wellness,” Foley explains. “I read about how in the EU there’s over 1300 ingredients that are considered too toxic to be included in skincare and beauty, but in the U.S., at that time, there were only 11 ingredients that had been banned from beauty products.”
Foley tells FOX Business that the lack of information inspired her to learn all about the beauty industry, the business, and natural ingredients. She discovered that “there was no Sephora, BlueMercury or multi-brand home for green and clean beauty.” Foley filled that void and by 2013, she had opened her first brick-and-mortar Follain store in Boston.
While she was filling a physical space, Foley relates, beauty trends were going in a different direction. Customers were starting to find their products online. It prompted Foley to pivot her business model to a digital-first platform. “I decided to take a step back and really figure out how we are going to get our message of clean beauty out to as many people as possible,” Foley explains. “It’s not going to be through opening a few brick and mortar stores every year, so we decided to take a hard right turn and go digital-first with the business.”
The numbers reveal that it was a smart move for the company. Foley says digital sales started in 2017 at 40% of Follain’s business, and this year Follain’s digital sales are on track to hit 70%. She also has seen that repeat shoppers on digital buy four to five times a year. Brand recognition also sprouted from Foley’s shift to a digital-first platform. “One of the things we’re seeing is that our brand awareness is growing nationally. It’s growing everywhere,” Foley explains. “We’re shipping orders to different parts of the country than we could have ever anticipated growing in.”
Foley notes that learning what is in your beauty products is empowering. The entire basis of Foley’s business is shifting the status quo of the beauty industry, and that’s not limited to what she sells.
Foley is also passionate about changing the message that the natural beauty business is bringing to its customers. “I think that there’s a deeper problem in the conventional beauty industry that taps into female insecurity and confidence issues,” Foley explains. “Basically they’re saying you need to look like model X. Well, everyone is not going to look like model X. Everybody is beautiful in their own way. At Follain, we’re saying instead of using toxic ingredients to support everybody looking the same, we’re saying everybody is beautiful and support that beauty with healthy ingredients that provide a sustainable future for you and your family.”
Follain is launching 10 stores by the end of 2019, including newly announced locations in Seattle, Bethesda and Dallas. For Tara Foley’s full interview and to learn more about Follain watch the video above.