ODDITY SpoiledBrain

The fastest growing beauty brand in the US, IL MAKIAGE, launches in Australia today, following success in other foreign markets, including the UK and Germany.

The prestige professional makeup brand was originally launched 1972 by NYC-based makeup artist Ilana Harkavi, but has been little known outside of the professional circuit in recent decades. That changed in 2017 when a consumer-focused private equity firm invested $29 million USD in the company to accelerate brand expansion in the United States before taking it global. The brand re-launched in its new, maximalist, digital-first incarnation in 2018 by brother-sister duo Oran Holtzman and Shiran Holtzman-Erel. “When I acquired IL MAKIAGE a few years ago, I had a clear vision for the future – to build a global, professional, high-end makeup brand,” said brand CEO, Oran. “We have invested significant resources to further develop IL MAKIAGE, building a state of the art R&D division, enhancing our product offering, and creating a unique shopping experience in our mono-brand makeup boutiques.

The brand ethos is maximalist, with saturated, bold looks the brand’s hallmark in a world that’s come to embrace minimalism and normcore. “Who wants to be low maintenance anyway?” says the brand’s site, “And since when is owning a single, lightly tinted chapstick a good thing? To whomever started this no fuss trend, with all due respect, we’d cry for you but our mascara is too damn expensive. Which is why we will be bold and unapologetic as we champion the spirit of all confident, successful women who are equal parts swagger and substance.”

Although research suggests most customers still prefer to buy colour cosmetics offline, the brand is clearly helping to change that, with its advanced AI-driven product matching and streamlined, thoughtful online shopping experience.

Its 90-second PowerMatch quiz is the cornerstone of its tech-driven, inclusive offering, using the power of machine learning to match tens of millions of people with the right foundations and concealers with more than 90% accuracy, even without a visual of the person. It combines hundreds of thousands of data points and information on 700 different skin tone combos, and the brand’s dedication to finding the right shade for everybody seems to be paying off with ‎340,460 reviews and a 4.6 star rating for the Woke Up Like This Foundation at the time of writing. It’s the single most-reviewed beauty product in the world.

The Evening Standard reported in 2020 that “The company has a large in-house team of developers, data scientists and engineers. Last year, it acquired the Y Combinator-backed start-up NeoWize to bring its machine learning prowess in-house to improve on its algorithms. The founders, Omer Nevo and Yoav Cafri, came from elite intelligence units in the Israel Defense Forces, before founding the start-up with the aim of using machine learning and deep learning algorithms to transform e-commerce.”

The Jerusalem Post also reports on the brand’s micro-influencer platform, Kenzza, “which ties influencer content into the retail experience. The aim is to link inspiration, education, trial and purchase experiences within a singular site.” The brand works directly with micro-influencers (one of the savviest ways to partner with influencers) on its Kenzza platform, and this user-generated content allows customers to shop by both product and “talent” on the site, shopping products used in influencer-created looks. The Evening Standard said of the UK launch that “Tech is also infused in the company’s e-commerce platform, Kenzza, which draws on the skills of micro and macro-influencers to create content around the products and display them in a way that appeals to savvy millennial and Gen-Z digital shoppers. For the UK launch, IL MAKIAGE worked with over 100 influencers, including the likes of Ellis AtlantisSasha Ellese, and Belinda. Though the company does operate pop-ups in the US, all closed at the moment, of course, the overwhelming majority of sales take place online.”

It is a heritage brand re-imagined perfectly for and of the moment.

Stay tuned for an in-depth interview with Co-Founder Oran Holtzman on IL MAKIAGE’s Australian launch.


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