Global in under two years: Face Halo founder Lizzy Pike reveals her success story
Fri 6 September 2019 - 11:05 amEntrepreneur | Featured | Leadership
Lizzy Pike is the co-founder of Face Halo, an only 2-year-old product that is changing the game of removing make up and pushing the sustainability movement on a global scale.
With just a splash of water, the product removes all make up and dirt. In just a 12 month period, Face Halo has replaced around 370 million wipes in the UK.
Based in Perth, Lizzy founded Face Halo as an Aussie brand – but it’s so much more than that now. It’s firmly won its place in the markets overseas – in the US, the UK, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Korea. It started online, but is now stocked in thousands of retailers worldwide!
Lizzy and her husband (the other founder) started out by using Instagram influencer Chloe Morello – with a 1.1 milion following – as their main marketing strategy. Chloe loved the product so much that she joined the Face Halo team.
Organically, Face Halo has also been exposed by two big female celebs on huge platforms. Famous actress Kaley Cucoco shared her positive review on Instagram and Jess Glynne used Face Halo live on stage at The Brit Awards when performing her song “Thursday” (with lyrics “I won’t wear make-up on Thursday”) to take off her make-up.
We had the opportunity to speak with Lizzy about the huge growth of her business (which only operates with just a team of 12!) She has some amazing learnings to share with people looking to take the same path of entrepreneurship.
What is the story behind Face Halo and what’s your background? What lead to the launch of Face Halo?
“Well it’s an Australian brand but we launched in the US and Australia at the same time. Prior to that, I had been working with textiles. My husband and I had a company online and in the USA. We were doing textiles but we weren’t doing it in the beauty section.
“One day I was talking to a friend that was saying she never takes her make up off, and I had been saying to my husband for a while we’ve really got to look at the beauty market and create something there. When [my friend] said that I just thought, ‘Absolutely, that’s it! It’s got to be a makeup remover.’ Obviously then we had to do a lot of research… It just went from there you know.
“The idea started when we had the textile company before – in 2012. [In our previous companies] there were a lot of things that didn’t work so we had to re-evaluate things and ask what we were going to do differently. We spent a lot of time researching and getting products made up, doing the designing, and then working out ‘OK, how do we want to start ?’ Because in the previous company we put a lot of money into it and it didn’t work ultimately. And that what entrepreneurship is about – taking risks.
“[We went] into the beauty world was because I saw a gap in the market there, not only for something like Face Halo that was non-toxic and reusable, but [because of] the sustainability part. I didn’t want to start out saying ‘This is good for the environment,’ though. Two and a half years, no one was talking about sustainability, especially in the beauty industry.
“So we said ‘Let’s start with an influencer, Chloe Morello, and go out there and say hey everybody needs this, this is the best make-up remover in the world and this is a game changer and it’s going to change the way people take off the make-up.’
“Chloe came on board before we started. Sometimes the stars just align. You know, when you’ve done a few businesses, you go through it and it’s a struggle and its hard, and you kind of always expect that it’s going to be like that – but it wasn’t with Face Halo, it started and it started with a bang.”
Anaita Sarkar, owner of Olivia&Co and co-founder of Hero Packaging, who was interviewed recently at Dynamic Business, talked about just that – the difference between a business from something she wanted versus a gap in the market, and how much easier the latter is.
“Yeah! It’s taken 20 years to get here! People don’t see that but I didn’t wake up as a teenager and think ‘I’m going to invent a face remover called Face Halo.’ It’s passion that really does make it actually. For me, I have to be passionate about everything I do, and if you’re not passionate about it, then you’re in it for the wrong reasons. But yes, it’s taken 20 years of trying so many different things and making mistakes.”
In terms of approaching the retailers, and getting Face Halo into the likes of Priceline… how did that happen?
“It’s about reaching out to the buyers. You reach out to them and send them some of your products and if they like it they’ll want to talk to you.”
That sounds simple!
“It sounds simple, but it’s all about brand building. At the end of the day they’ve got to take the risk of putting your brand into their store wondering ‘Will it sell?’ – because nobody wants it sitting on the shelf.”
So you had the online presence first, and from that you were already known to retailers?
“Yes, you’ve got to build the brand awareness. To anybody starting out, you know we live in a digital world, absolutely – and that’s really helping brands now through the influencer world and social media is really enabling brands to get out in front of people. And then retailers go, ‘Oh okay, this is an up-and-coming brand – let’s talk to them.’”
Have you found that retailers have come to you, and that in some cases you’ve had to turn them down due to the branding not aligning?
“Yes, and a lot of retailers approach us which is fantastic. Again, being in digital world, you don’t even need to meet people face to face, you can show them your products on Zoom and Skype.
“Yes [on being selective]. It comes back to the customers and what they want. We want the product to be accessible to everyone, so that everyone can afford it. We do singles and three pack – it’s stocked in Boots with the single pack, but it’s also in Selfridges and Harrods – it’s for everybody.”
How did you expand overseas? Did they approach you?
“Yep. Korea approached us. It was a company that has 1,100 stores in korea. We went to Korea and met them. With non-English speaking countries we have now chosen to work with distributors. To break into other markets, it’s about doing your research and we also have to have fulfilment centres, and we have to ship from there, so there’s a lot of research to go into it.
“It’s interesting though… for every single country it’s different because every culture is different. So what might work in Australia might not work in the UK. We can’t think that we can just copy and paste – it doesn’t work like that.”
How has Face halo changed?
“We started off early with partners but we’re no longer with them, so it’s just now my partner, myself and Chloe of course. Considering we are global, we only have about 12 staff. We do so much. We roll our sleeves up and we are hands on.”
Where are the team located?
“So in the US, that’s only a couple of us there, and then the rest of us are in Perth. We’re very grateful for our different PR companies in each country too. And it will grow, but at the moment, we are hands on. We’re all in it together.”
What’s the one main thing you attribute your success to?
“That’s really easy to answer. Growing up, my dad was an entrepreneur – he used to have the 9-5 job before that.
“We’re talking about the difference between people, really the only difference is in the way that they think.
“He was one of those people that wanted to do it himself, wanted to take risks, he went bankrupt three times and you know made his first millions when he was in his sixties… then lost it all again. But what I saw was my dad taking risks and he would pick himself up, dust himself off and do it again. I always saw that as really exciting. It teaches you resilience.
“I want to live that kind of a life where I can handle any challenge but I get excited about taking risks. And fortunately I married a man who’s exactly the same as me.”