How I Began a Firm Promoting American Magnificence Manufacturers in China

  • Julian Reis is a former hedge fund supervisor and the founding father of the sweetness firm SuperOrdinary.
  • SuperOrdinary helps American magnificence manufacturers like Farmacy and Olaplex achieve a foothold in China.
  • That is how his firm works, as advised to author Claire Turrell.

This as advised essay relies on a dialog with Julian Reis, the founding father of SuperOrdinary. It has been edited for size and readability.

Coming into a market like China, which has strict border controls, is basically daunting when you do not converse the language and do not have native connections, however in February 2018 I discovered myself doing simply that.

I had moved from the US to Hong Kong to take a laser facial model Pores and skin Laundry, which I launched in California in 2013, worldwide. Now I wished to take it throughout the ocean to mainland China, the place there isn’t a entry to LinkedIn, Google or WhatsApp. Whereas I used to be determining how to do that, I seen that lots of the cult manufacturers we have now within the US weren’t obtainable in China.

This was what impressed me to launch SuperOrdinary, a magnificence firm that serves because the nation associate in China for 110 cult American magnificence manufacturers. Though it was difficult, I used to be used to beginning new companies. I co-founded the Bluegold hedge fund in London after working for Tudor Funding Company in Singapore. Now I’ve turned SuperOrdinary right into a multi-million greenback firm with 600 workers, working with main manufacturers like Olaplex, Physicians Components, and Malin+Goetz.

I based an organization that may not be a advertising department, however an invested model associate

We began out as an organization centered on constructing manufacturers in advanced markets, similar to China and Southeast Asia. Our enterprise mannequin was that we might purchase magnificence model merchandise at a reduced worth within the US and pay for all of the advertising prices wanted to launch it in a brand new nation.

We purchase merchandise that we retailer in warehouses within the nation as a result of we consider you will need to personal stock and make investments financially in its success. The primary model we labored with was Farmacy, whose founder, David Chung, I had met once I launched Pores and skin Laundry. We might head-hunt others, however now manufacturers are additionally approaching us.

The million greenback query is: will the model resonate in China? There are indicators.

For starters, we search for a model that has been round for not less than 5 years, as a result of it reveals that they’ve been capable of develop the infrastructure. We additionally search for manufacturers that generate not less than $25 to $50 million in gross income. To succeed in that stage, you would wish to have constructed a crew and arrange the infrastructure to deal with bigger orders.

An Ouai advert in China.

Due to Julian Reis


One other rule of thumb we use is: does the model have a novel gross sales proposition, or USP, that may resonate in China? 5 years in the past you can have entered the market with clear substances or inexperienced packaging, however everyone seems to be doing that now. You want a degree of distinction.

We’re additionally searching for an genuine founder – somebody with a ardour for the product. Typical questions we ask a possible model give attention to merchandise and improvements, their mission and what it represents, and the way dedicated they’re to the Chinese language market.

My hedge fund expertise have confirmed useful in constructing a model within the magnificence business. Working as a hedge fund supervisor has developed an intense dedication to understanding knowledge and it by the lens of the way it evolves. It actually helps us make higher choices about what to spend our sources on.

Second, as a dealer, I’ve discovered to remain centered. When buying and selling, it will be important to not lose give attention to why you’re making that commerce to start with. They are saying, “Plan the commerce, act the plan.” That is one thing I take into consideration loads.

We discovered that each metropolis in China has a distinct shopping for model

A Chinese Olaplex ad

An Olaplex advert in China.

Due to Julian Reis


China is a fragmented market. A big metropolis like Shanghai has the identical inhabitants as Australia and a GDP of $680 billion, whereas a smaller metropolis like Nanning has 7.2 million inhabitants (greater than Los Angeles and Chicago mixed) and a GDP of $76 billion.

The individuals who dwell in a much bigger metropolis like Shanghai would store on procuring websites like Tmall and Douyin, the Chinese language model of TikTok which is extra superior in e-commerce, whereas our early evaluation discovered that those that dwell in smaller cities usually tend to have been to make use of the net procuring platform Taobao. Nevertheless, this has already modified since we launched in China and folks residing within the smaller cities are actually additionally utilizing social media firms like Douyin to find the manufacturers.

Now we have created facilities of excellence for TikTok, Douyin and extra

Every of our magnificence manufacturers has its personal crew and so does each platform we use. For instance, we have now particular person facilities of excellence (departments) for every of the social media websites. Every of those facilities consists of as much as 50 people who find themselves specialists in any format, and so they share their classes with all manufacturers. Issues can change so shortly in China that you need to be prepared or else you can be left behind. A advertising marketing campaign that labored effectively one week could not work so effectively the subsequent.

If we had launched a model a yr in the past, we might have spent possibly 2-3% of our gross sales on TikTok, and now we spend possibly 50% on video content material produced by influencers. We associate with roughly 70,000 influencers worldwide to lift consciousness of those manufacturers.

We expect globally, however act domestically

Once we launched Farmacy on the procuring pageant Double 11, aka Singles’ Day 2021 (the Chinese language equal of)


black friday

), it was the quantity 2 promoting skincare model on Tmall.

We began small by specializing in two of its hero merchandise, or bestsellers, within the US: the Honey Potion Plus masks and the Inexperienced Clear cleanser. We discovered that extremely focused market entry permits us to focus our sources and efforts. It additionally helps customers shortly perceive what the model stands for and whether or not it might curiosity them.

We used websites like the sweetness evaluate website The Little Purple E-book to lift consciousness. As we shared the model with influencers, we continued to give attention to the identical message that Pharmacy makes use of superior science to harness the therapeutic energy of substances from nature. For promoting photographs, we localized these utilizing Chinese language historical past, opera singers and ballet dancers.

Are you a founder who needs to share your story? Electronic mail Lauryn Haas at lhaas@insider.com

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