Interview with trèStiQue co-founder Jenn Kapahi
How did you and Jack Bensason (trèStiQue co-founder) meet?
We used to work at the same company about 8 years ago. Jack worked in a different office location than I did but we occasionally bumped into eachother.
What made you decide to go into business together?
We shared a very similar vision for a brand and a product line. We also felt that our professional strengths complimented eachother. Jack is a genius at supply chain and operations and I have more know-how in product development and marketing.
What was the goal when you launched the brand?
To simplify the real women’s everyday makeup routine.
What makes trèStiQue different to other color brands?
We made the first stick based makeup routine for everyday- combining color essentials + tools for application + the perfect bag to carry everything on-the-go.
Can you talk us through your creative process in creating the collection?
First comes the concept and identifying the problem we were trying to solve (in this case it was trying to simplify the real women’s makeup routine). Then we try, evaluate and develop the formulas and the packaging. Once we had the products we worked on the branding, website and creative assets to bring the vision to life.
What were the first products in the line when you launched?
We launched with the entire Essential 8 collection which includes: Tinted Face Stick, Concealer Crayon, Bronzer Stick, Blush Stick, Shadow Crayon, Brow Pencil, Eye Pencil, Lip Crayon + our Le Pak Bag. We also launched our Mini Lip Crayon and Mini Shadow Crayon which we sampled to help generate the consumer trial and brand awareness.
Can you talk me through when other SKUs were introduced into the line and why?
New essentials were launched because we wanted to round out the collection. We launched the highlighter a few months later and other Mini products (mini blush, mini bronzer, mini concealer, mini highlight) to continue to generate consumer trial and brand awareness. Year two we launched 2 new lipstick shades as a result of customer requests and the matte stick with Sephora which was to introduce a primer and travel touch-up stick. Our products are lifestyle built- we are made for girls on the go, travellers and gym buffs.
How did you feel on launch day? Do you remember where you were?
I was in LA prepping for generation beauty, which was our first event and first time showing the product line to real customers face to face. It was exciting!!
What was your first big piece of coverage? Can you remember what they said?
An article with WWD focusing on our approach with simple direct to consumer beauty products.
What have been some of the press pieces that you are most proud of over the past two years?
All of them have been awesome. Its rewarding to see your brand loved by beauty editors (who are product experts) The Today show last Black Friday, Allure, WWD, Forbes, Travel & Leisure, Refinery 29, SELF, Oprah…
Do you remember the first time you saw a customer wearing trèStiQue? How did that feel like?
Yes! At generation beauty LA. It was a proud and happy moment.
You did your first Generation Beauty by IPSY the month before you launched. What was that experience like?
We did it one day after we launched the brand online.
You won the Foundermade competition just a few months into launching. Can you talk to me about that?
We jumped into the pitch competition last minute and it was a scramble to produce the video and to get our products and deck ready. Standing on that stage looking at a ton of press and beauty experts in the room was daunting! When we won it was pure joy.
Your first retail offering was through Birchbox. How was that experience?
Awesome! Seeing your product babies on shelf and watching real women pick them up and try them and then buy them was a dream come true.
You were live on the Today Show on Black Friday. What impact did that exposure have on the brand?
Our website crashed we has so many visitors! It was unexpected and scary but great for business.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve encountered over the past two years and how have you and your team overcome them?
The biggest challenges are always having enough capital and finding the right people to join the team.
What were the biggest highlights of year one?
The today show, first IPSY glam bag, Generation Beauty, & winning the Foundermade competition and the CEW award.
What were the biggest highlights of year two?
Being on- air with QVC, launching our highlighter and matte stick and launching with Sephora!
One of the big moments of year two must have been seeing the brand on shop floors at Sephora. What was that feeling like?
A brief moment of accomplishment and then the realization that you need to start sprinting… you have to work harder, faster and become more agile to be a good partner in that environment.
What can customers look forward to as you enter into year three?
More innovation! We have SO many cool products coming.
As you look back on the past two years, what are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Trust your gut, you know what’s right in the end. Also all things pass, both good and bad so you just need to keep pushing forward and keep the passion alive for what you are building.
What are you most proud of?
Creating a routine that actually simplifies real women’s makeup.