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A decade after its founding, Beautycounter is turning to an Amazon veteran to help drive its next phase of growth.
Chief Commercial Officer Kara Trousdale joined the beauty company in March after nearly eight years at Amazon, most recently as marketing manager for its Amazon Fashion division. His role encompasses several key responsibilities, including scaling Beautycounter’s retail, e-commerce and partnership channels, and leading the brand’s overall omnichannel strategy.
Beautycounter is a much smaller company than Amazon, but Trousdale nonetheless brings the lessons she learned from the retail giant to her new startup role, starting with Amazon’s well-known diktat of “customer obsession”. At Amazon, executives are “always working backwards from the customer,” Trousdale told Retail Dive in an interview. She intends to do the same at Beautycounter, paying close attention to what Beautycounter customers want and where they shop to determine the company’s path forward.
“How are we growing our DTC channel and how do we plan to continue to meet customers where they are?” are two issues that Trousdale prioritizes.
Physical experience will surely play a part in this, especially now that shoppers aren’t as housebound as they once were. “Things are reopening after being strictly locked down,” Trousdale said. “So how do we scale this? How do we envision having a really strong virtual presence but also an interesting physical presence, whether it’s in our own retail stores or if it’s doing other retail partnerships? These are things that I am evaluating right now.
Beautycounter’s own stores — the brand already has a few in key cities such as Los Angeles and Denver – will play a role, but it’s unclear how many the company will eventually lead. Trousdale simply said that Beautycounter was “assessing” what a store’s final footprint might look like. Trousdale is also exploring wholesale partnerships, as Beautycounter landed in the past with Target and Sephora.
“I think wholesale is very important to the beauty category, primarily because we want to be where our consumers are,” Trousdale said.
In addition to thinking about its physical footprint and partnerships, Trousdale is investing in Beautycounter’s current channels and implementing another lesson from Amazon: operational excellence. Operations are often a sore point for startups, with many popular DTC brands struggling to achieve profitability and execute operations efficiently once they have outgrown their roots.
Trousdale knows a thing or two about how to grow businesses effectively.
“Learning how to scale businesses very quickly at Amazon is definitely something I can apply to Beautycounter,” Trousdale said. “I was really interested in coming to Beautycounter because it wasn’t quite a startup, it had been very successful and was really ready for this next phase of growth. So think about: how do I instill operational best practices?
Trousdale is one of several business executives that DTC brands have recently tapped to grow. The post has gained importance over the years, and is becoming increasingly popular with retailers seeking transformation, according to Catherine Lepard, partner in Heidrick & Struggles’ Chicago office and managing partner of the global retail practice.
“In these positions, the skill set is not straightforward, rather it includes a variety of backgrounds such as management consulting and strategy, and we have seen strong indexing of talent that has emerged through digital platforms. and are more digitally savvy,” Lepard said via email. “Companies are looking for business leaders who are growth-focused, strategic thinkers, and take a forward-looking approach to navigating different business models.”
Indeed, several commercial managers in the retail sector have been tapped to lead the major DTC brands. When Casper founder Philip Krim resigned in November last yearCommercial Director Emilie Arel has taken up her post and has since taken a firm stance on profitability, promising to cut back on what Casper sells and focus on its core products. Likewise, beauty favorite Glossier replaced founder Emily Weiss in May with Kyle Leahy, then Chief Commercial Officer. layoffs and their first wholesale partnership followed as Leahy developed a new strategy for the brand.
The position of chief commercial officer could be a good fit for CEO succession because it tends to require strategic and visionary skills, Lepard said, but the role is not yet widely adopted in retail. Lepard pointed to the roles of COO and Head of Stores as corollaries in that those positions were also exploited to take the top spot.
”With the addition of P&L responsibility, this can potentially serve as a platform for CEO succession as these individuals will be at the forefront of digital transformation and customer strategy,” Lepard said. “I think it’s a role that’s created more to fit at any given time, generally to lead transformation, to unify ‘bricks and clicks,’ and maybe provide another platform for succession.”
Gregg Renfrew, founder of Beautycounter to recently exited the brand’s top spot, setting the company up for a new phase of growth. Renfrew founded Beautycounter in 2011 and has focused the company on clean ingredients and advocating for tougher ingredient laws. She remained CEO of the brand until February of this year, when Beautycounter brought in Shiseido Americas CEO Marc Rey. A month later, Trousdale joined, creating the recently acquired company with several veteran executives in key roles.
For now, Trousdale is fully focused on Beautycounter’s omnichannel strategy, and the interplay between physical and digital has become increasingly important for DTC brands as they reach the limit of online-only growth. . In addition to helping the retailer reach new shoppers, Trousdale also believes the physical locations could help drive awareness of what sets Beautycounter apart from other beauty brands, which it also addresses through an advocacy platform. Mark.
“It’s not just about touching and feeling the texture of the product with us, it’s also about educating the consumer that we’re eliminating over 1,800 ingredients from all of our products, we have a program fair sourcing, that everything we have is totally safe for you and your family,” Trousdale said. “I think it’s just a level of education that can’t always be communicated in a simple post fast on Instagram.”