Episode 37

 

For Evelyn Wang, the path to success wasn’t always a straight line. Becoming SVP of Marketing at Wet ‘n’ Wild took a stint analyzing boxed DVD sales, teaching English in Japan and leading teen sailing excursions for a sustainability non-profit. If you’re wondering what the “right” path to your dream job is, this episode has some encouraging insights. (Hint: You’re doing better than you think!). Evelyn and Jodi also dissect the pros and cons of corporate hierarchy and how to give an established brand a facelift without alienating the customers who love it.

 

Announcer

Welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty, hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.

Jodi Katz

Hey, everybody. It’s Jodi Katz. Welcome back to Where Brains Meet Beauty. I’m so excited to be sitting across the desk today from Evelyn Wang. She is the senior vice president of marketing at Wet and Wild Beauty. Welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty.

Evelyn Wang

Thanks, Jodi. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Jodi Katz

Is this your first podcast interview?

Evelyn Wang

Yes, it is.

Jodi Katz

It’s pretty cool, right?

Evelyn Wang

It is cool. It’s a little nerve wracking but I feel, for the most part, ready.

Jodi Katz

Are you on camera often in your job?

Evelyn Wang

No, actually I’m never on camera. Maybe a behind-the-scenes interview, I can hide behind the phone, but …

Jodi Katz

It’s a little different being face to face, right?

Evelyn Wang

Completely.

Jodi Katz

But I love it. It’s so much more fun-

Evelyn Wang

Yes.

Jodi Katz

… than the phone. Let’s dive into your story, ’cause it’s so interesting, and I want to just tell our listeners how beyond excited I am to meet you. And that’s just because I’ve been watching what you’ve been accomplishing at wet n wild from afar, and I’m just so incredibly impressed.

Evelyn Wang

Oh, thank you. That’s nice to hear. Well, I describe myself as a beauty industry baby. I’ve been in the industry for over 15 years at this point, and I didn’t start out with a grand plan that oh, my goodness, I was going to go into the beauty industry. I think I went into business school just because I felt I had to get a professional degree to support myself. My undergraduate degree in women’s science and psychoanalytic thought wasn’t really going to feed me. I went to business school, luckily somehow got in, and honestly, I think I looked at all of these majors and I was like, what’s finance? I don’t know what that is. Marketing? That’s words. I think I can do that. I majored in marketing, and I honestly don’t think I had a clear sense of direction, but I always have loved the visual aspect of things. I thought, for a while, about going into the movie industry, ’cause I’ve always loved the visual and creative aspect of those industries and that nature of things. But there’s also a very pragmatic, analytical, numbers side to me.

I was looking at all these different industries, and I thought well, beauty sounds super interesting. It sounds like this place where I can mesh all things together. And, with a lot of persistence, L’Oreal gave me the chance for a summer internship, and then I also interned in entertainment, ’cause that was another possibility where I thought I could do both of those things. And then it turned out, in entertainment, that I would have to do things like analyzing boxed DVD sets, and I was like [inaudible 00:03:01] that doesn’t sound like a fun career path. After that, I was completely focused on beauty.

Jodi Katz

And you went to business school right after undergrad?

Evelyn Wang

No, no, I actually had a little gap, and I worked in nonprofit. I worked at a nonprofit sustainability organization that took teenagers on sailboat trips to teach them about sustainability.

Jodi Katz

Wow, that is cool.

Evelyn Wang

You know what, it is really cool, and it was very formative. I mean, I’ve always actually been pro environment, and I think working there set the seeds in my mind. That is a very core value to me that’s important. And then, I actually also went to Japan on something called the JET program, and I taught English in Japan for a couple of years. That was my very amazing corporate background to get into business school. Not really.

Jodi Katz

But I love hearing that, because young people put a lot of pressure on themselves to like, the first job out of the gate is going to be the career maker.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

Right?

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

There’s this volatile energy in them that they think that they can’t just try things.

Evelyn Wang

I think that, in a way, it is people who go and have these different experiences who end up having a richness of background they can draw on. Not to say that it’s not super impressive to just know what you’re going to do and just go and pursue that career right away, but I think having traveled, having just seen the world, having different experiences to draw on, I think that is important.

Jodi Katz

I definitely, as a young adult coming out of college, I put this pressure on myself that it’s gotta be great, right? I was surrounded by people who were going into finance ’cause this was their passion.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

I had a friend who wanted to be a brain surgeon.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

[inaudible 00:04:51] she’s a brain surgeon, right?

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

And I only picked very image-driven opportunities. I worked at a really cool advertising agency on a really high-profile account. Then, I worked at Cosmo magazine.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

Then, I worked at Glamour, and I was always chasing image and not really chasing what makes me feel good, right? ‘Cause I felt I was pushed on this path.

Evelyn Wang

Well, I think that you had a direction. You knew even what the prestige industries were, it sounds like. Honestly, I had no idea. When I got to business school and everyone’s like oh, I worked at this bank and this thing, and honestly I was like, “What’s corporate banking? What’s investment banking? What’s iBanking? What’s all this stuff that people are talking about?” I honestly didn’t even know that those were a prestigious path.

Jodi Katz

Right.

Evelyn Wang

After that, I finished business school. I had a great opportunity with Lauder. I actually first started with Estee Lauder, back in the day, in sales. My first year out of business school, I was an account coordinator at Robinsons-May, which is now Macy’s, and I wore an Estee Lauder uniform.

Jodi Katz

Nice. What did it look like?

Evelyn Wang

It was a navy blue, somewhat fitted but also somewhat sack-like dress, but elegant. It had 3/4 length sleeves. And I had 11 counters that I had to go around and manage, and these poor people thought I was a trained makeup artist. I’d be doing makeovers on these women. Their eyeshadow would be up to their eyebrows, and I’d be like, “Yes, this looks, like, fantastic. See how I’m contouring, this?” Et cetera. I’d be in the back stockroom climbing over boxes trying to find that lost counter display, honestly Windexing down my counters. It was totally … I was a fish out of water, but it was so great. It was so good to have done that.

Jodi Katz

Right. Wait, let’s talk about, first of all, the uniform. It sounds a little bit like an airline uniform?

Evelyn Wang

But not even as maybe fitted or sexy as that. I think it was just more just classic and ladylike, and then it had to be practical ’cause what if foundation drips on it or something? It has to be machine washable.

Jodi Katz

Right.

Evelyn Wang

It was probably polyester or something. And it has to flatter a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s not like it could be super figure hugging-

Jodi Katz

Right.

Evelyn Wang

… or what have you, but … and if I remember, the neck had a little V in it. And you could accessorize it, actually. I think I had an Estee Lauder gold bracelet that had little charms of different perfume bottles and things like that.

Jodi Katz

You had this job where you basically were multipurpose. You were cleaning up, you were putting [inaudible 00:08:08], you were training your team.

Evelyn Wang

I was training my team. I was supposed to float between different counters and then train my team, who were all more experienced than me. They were like, “Who is this nerdy girl who has her business degree and stuff?” But it was great. It was great.

Jodi Katz

How long did you have this job?

Evelyn Wang

I had it for a year, and then after that, that’s when I moved to New York and then moved to their global marketing department. Then, from there-

Jodi Katz

Well, what was that transition like, moving from the field to corporate?

Evelyn Wang

I really, really wanted it. It was great. I was just so excited and impressed and in awe to be in New York, to go up that ladder, come out. It’s beautiful at the Estee Lauder buildings. You come out, and it’s set up like Estee Lauder’s living area, and everything is perfect and elegant. Everything impressed me. I was just like, “Oh, my gosh. I’m really here in New York, living the dream.” And it was probably more, to be honest, more comfortable for me than working in retail every day. That’s more me, to be in an office, probably, than to be interacting with customers every day. It’s something that I can do, but I think I still prefer the behind the scenes type of thing.

Jodi Katz

You mentioned earlier, when you were having internships, that you didn’t want to analyze DVD boxed set sales. But [inaudible 00:09:45] when you have to analyze mascara-

Evelyn Wang

Oh, no. I like digging into the numbers and finding the story, but to me it’s that the numbers are telling a story. What is it telling me bout the consumer or where the category’s going, where the industry’s going? That’s interesting to me. I don’t know. As long as the numbers are tied to an interesting story-

Jodi Katz

Right.

Evelyn Wang

… I can actually get really into it.

Jodi Katz

Right. The advice I give people who are looking to enter this business is, just find the brand or company that you’re excited about. I don’t think it really matters what the job is, at first.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

Just find something that you’re excited about, and then when they give you gratis product, you are stoked. Nothing could be better.

Evelyn Wang

No, I think that’s that. Someone had given me that advice, early on, about, “Hey, you know, if you really are serious about working in beauty, you have to kind of like understand that it’s a very physical industry.” You’re dealing with products that have a physical touch and feel. You can’t be so concerned about the prestige of that initial job. It’s better to get down and dirty and actually understand what’s going on. It was so fascinating, that first year, to see the cosmetics floor as … I don’t want to be so dramatic, but almost warfare. All of these individual counters are different turfs that have different foot soldiers, and if you win that week or that day of sales, and then you win the event, then your sales are ahead. And it was just interesting and foundational to see that you win the sales game one store, literally one sale, one transaction at a time.

Jodi Katz

Right. It is really incredible. You mentioned warfare, and, I mean, my personal feeling about the industry is, there’s something for everybody, and there’s plenty of room for a lot of [inaudible 00:11:46] to succeed.

Evelyn Wang

Yep.

Jodi Katz

But what do you make of the clutter in the business now? Because I get really overwhelmed, and I get burned out on [inaudible 00:11:54] news and stuff and innovation. Sometimes I feel I’m getting strangled by all of it.

Evelyn Wang

Too much stuff? Too much? It’s definitely getting faster, right? And part of it is social media, and just everyone is a content producer. As soon as a launch comes out, then it’s everywhere. Everyone hears about it, and you can repost it and [inaudible 00:12:18], and it’s everywhere, and it’s like, “Oh, my God. Look at all these products.” I guess there is a lot of noise, but for me, it’s still … I guess where I see the biggest amount of newness and noise is probably from brands that are more classified as indie brands or social media brands. I feel the big players, we still know who they are. They’re still doing their thing and, from my perspective, there’s so much social media chatter and newness going on in certain segments but, I don’t know, somehow I digest it.

Jodi Katz

I think one of the challenges being now at an agency, and years ago I was at a brand-

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

… is that when you’re at a brand, you can just be focused.

Evelyn Wang

Right. Maybe that’s it.

Jodi Katz

Focus on one store, right?

Evelyn Wang

Maybe that’s it. Right.

Jodi Katz

Focus on one type of customer-

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

… who’s interested in your story.

Evelyn Wang

You have to pay attention to everything.

Jodi Katz

Yeah.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

I mean, I feel sometimes my head is spinning-

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

… ’cause I have clients that are strategics, clients that are midsize brands, clients that are indies, and some are super green and clean. Some are just conventional.

Evelyn Wang

They’re all so different different. They must be so different.

Jodi Katz

It’s like, I think the frenetic pace of the industry is-

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

… making me want to refocus the agency. Maybe we just need three clients that we’re focused on. Maybe we don’t need to be spread out so much. Maybe just having a little bit of focus will give our clients a better experience and the room to do deeper thinking and then shut out some of the noise that’s really not relevant.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

Right?

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

It’s definitely the pace of the industry, the news of the industry, the money coming into the industry, all that investment money and [inaudible 00:14:06] M&A and all that. It’s really making me think about how we handle our business.

Evelyn Wang

How to structure everything.

Jodi Katz

‘Cause it’s exhausting. It’s insanity.

Evelyn Wang

Big questions.

Jodi Katz

Right. Anyway, that’s an aside. But let’s talk about something that I’ve heard a lot at industry events, which is the very giant strategic corporations, their leaders talking about the influence that indie brands have had on them and that innovation in the industry has had on them, which is to look at the way they organize their business and run their business, and the desire to be more nimble. They long for the ability to move an idea from start to finish quicker.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

They want to be able to contribute to the pop culture story in a more timely way.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

Where things might take two years or 2-1/2 years, even three years at a large company, at a small company something can take six months, right? Or even less. You’ve come from a lot of big companies, and now you’re at what I think is actually a quite large company, but it’s not as multi brand as a L’Oreal, right?

Evelyn Wang

Sure.

Jodi Katz

Or a Lauder. And that’s Markwins.

Evelyn Wang

Markwins.

Jodi Katz

Can you tell us a little bit about Markwins?

Evelyn Wang

Markwins is a private beauty company. We own, obviously, wet n wild, Physician’s Formula, Bonne Bell, Lip Smackers, Black Radiance and a significant gift set business. I think what you’re alluding to is that, while it’s the biggest private beauty company in the country, it’s definitely still on a smaller scale. It’s a privately held company. It’s actually a family-run company.

Jodi Katz

That’s so cool to be family run.

Evelyn Wang

It is cool. It is very cool. And the owners are very involved, and they’re very supportive. That’s a really cool aspect of the job. But the organizational structure is flatter. I directly report to the president. I pretty much run the wet n wild brand. And I think the difference is that I can make decisions. And I think when you work in a different structure it’s funny, ’cause what probably happens is, you have a conversation, a big presentation to a lot of people analyzing all of these smaller, indie brands and social-media-inspired brands that are more nimble. And then everyone sits around and says, “Well, how can we adapt these strategies?” And then they put a PowerPoint together. And the whole entire process of that and then deciding on the ways forward and which of these things you’re going to pursue and what you’re going to put in place to become more nimble, that whole process is what’s holding things back in the first place.

And honestly, I don’t know how some of the bigger companies would be able to become more nimble without just, honestly, a massive restructuring and, basically, a lessening of the decision making process. If you want to be nimble, you can’t have to have every decision be approved by multiple meetings with 15 to 20 decision makers. Early on in my career, I always thought, when I become more senior one day, I’m going to ask the assistant manager or manager who’s working on that product, “Honestly, what do you think we should do? And tell me your insights.” Because they’re so much closer to that little project that they’re working on, and all of the details.

Why should someone who is so many more layers up, who … let’s say it’s a project about social media … might not even understand social media, might not even know who the influencers in that [inaudible 00:18:03]. Why should they be approving this plan? Give approval and objective on the budget and the overall business direction and then, let the expertise lead the way. I think that’s super important, and I think that’s super hard to do within a large and very well-staffed organization.

Jodi Katz

Right. For decades, hierarchy has made me uncomfortable and itchy, and it’s one of the reasons why I started my own business-

Evelyn Wang

Why you started your own company.

Jodi Katz

… because, I mean, I worked … my first job out of school was at a very large advertising agency, lots of hierarchy, and I got uncomfortable. It makes me shake, and I don’t do well with it.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

And it means that, it’s almost like when you’re driving, you’re trying to avoid the pothole but you drive right into it. That’s what happened to me. I’d be like, I’m in this space, I want to not deal with the hierarchy, but instead I’m just going to slam right into it and make a huge mess of it, because I was so uncomfortable with all these, like you said, inability for me on the front line to be able to say what I needed to say-

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

… when people, decades of experience ahead of me, are saying, “No, we’re not going to listen to that insight.” It was really challenging for me, and I think I took that with me, that frustration, through the years, always challenged authority in some way, shape or form-

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

… in the workplace-

Evelyn Wang

A renegade.

Jodi Katz

… which, for better or worse, led me to this path of well, I’ll just do it myself.

Evelyn Wang

I mean, that’s so cool. I so admire that. I think that is amazing.

Jodi Katz

It’s not an easy path.

Evelyn Wang

[inaudible 00:19:44] doesn’t sound easy.

Jodi Katz

How about this? I can say that every single day that I run this business I learn something new about myself, not about being a creative director or an art director or copywriter, but really just about me, how I deal with fear and rejection and frustration-

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

… and exhaustion and-

Evelyn Wang

It’s so direct. It’s all on you.

Jodi Katz

It’s, I think, the greatest gift from the universe to learn more about myself and evolve as a human. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. I wish it were. But I want to talk a little bit more about this idea of simplifying the approval process. I love what you said about giving your team member who’s really close to something and is a total expert in that one thing the room to make decisions. Is that something that comes naturally to you now?

Evelyn Wang

I think it’s just the nature of how I approve. Make no mistake, I am a control freak, and I want to know everything that’s happening and going on, but I also know I just cannot possibly manage every single detail by myself. And I think if I have someone in place who I trust and they’re just as ambitious as I am, then I know that absolutely I can’t expect the best from this person by micromanaging them, and hopefully they are actually better at me in what I hired them to do. I still absolutely see everything and approve everything, but I want my team to have ideas. I want them to be empowered. I want them to bring those ideas to me.

Jodi Katz

Right. Let’s say the senior leadership of a Coty or a Lauder or a L’Oreal is listening right now-

Evelyn Wang

Hi, everyone.

Jodi Katz

Hello, guys. And they’re really trying to understand how to absorb some of the learning here in their organization. What’s one of the first things they can do to empower their team to be able to make decisions faster?

Evelyn Wang

I mean, I think just … that’s so hard. I don’t even know exactly how to answer that, ’cause it’s so complicated. ‘Cause it’s almost like well, maybe they’d have to actually just get out of the way. Maybe there are too many layers of leadership, and that’s really … I mean, that’s crazy to just even think about what if you’re the problem, because-

Jodi Katz

Interesting, right?

Evelyn Wang

… there’s just too many of you. I think it’s a whole … hey, I think there’s still absolutely a place in the industry for established, tried and true brands. Those brands are never going to go away, but can they structure themselves in a way to compete with the nimbleness of a brand that’s run by a founder, who has everything in their head and can just make decisions so automatically and seamlessly? I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s really hard.

Jodi Katz

I’m wondering if senior leadership, in this scenario, if just saying, “Everything’s not going to be so precious.” Right? Just acknowledging that if we’re going to take things from three years of a process to nine months of a process, that not every single detail is going to be precious, and that it doesn’t all have to be so belabored.

Evelyn Wang

There’s some truth to that.

Jodi Katz

I wonder if there’s just a little bit room for saying, “It’s going to be different, and that’s okay-

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

… and we’re going to try it-

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

… and if it doesn’t work, then we can shift.”

Evelyn Wang

Right. I mean, that’s interesting and, as you were speaking, I was thinking. I mean, for so long there are certain ways of doing things that have been thought as the gold standard of how you would approach something at a, let’s say at a consumer packaged goods company. You want to have a good, long lead time. You want to have time to test these ideas with consumers and do focus groups and then do some type of volumetric, all of this stuff. And I’m not saying that that’s not valid. I mean, I try to do some of those things at wet n wild. But sometimes you’re looking for this grand insight into a launch, this grand, deep, psychological insight. And maybe that’s just the wrong approach. Maybe you shouldn’t approach an impulse-driven industry, for the most part, in such an analytical way. But that’s hard, ’cause there’s a financial impact to being nimble. It’s such a difficult equation.

Jodi Katz

Right. I almost wonder if the cost of making a mistake in a more nimble situation is actually less costly than taking your time-

Evelyn Wang

It might be.

Jodi Katz

… for three or four years-

Evelyn Wang

It might be.

Jodi Katz

… belaboring something.

Evelyn Wang

Especially, as we were saying earlier about the faster cycle of things these days. If you have a two-year launch cycle or something, I mean, in two years, gosh, the rest of the industry has moved on.

Jodi Katz

That’s right.

Evelyn Wang

Your launch is … that’s great that you tested it and got all of this validation, but guess what? Late now. You’re right, maybe.

Jodi Katz

I had a friend who worked in the science department of a large, very enormous, global skincare company. And the scientists, leaders in their field, would spend, literally, up to four years trying to conceive of some new ingredient, some new use of an old ingredient, or [inaudible 00:25:36] just concoct something in a lab-

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

… do what they do-

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

… scientists, and those really phenomenal innovations never made it through the pipeline to the customer. All of that time is spent in trying to create something new and innovative, but that time has passed by. Now, it’s five years later.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

Maybe we don’t care about those wrinkle things anymore or those whatever dots or … It just seems there’s such an enormous amount of waste in the process.

Evelyn Wang

There’s so much disruption that needs to happen in the way that we conceive of and bring products to market to just keep up with relevancy. And maybe some of these ideas of having a five-year incubator of different ideas, I mean … at the end of the day, we’re not inventing some new robotic or NASA technology. We’re making pretty things that … let’s face it, it’s a low-tech industry. Maybe we have cool apps and different types of communication that we’re experimenting with but, at the end of the day, a mascara formula hasn’t changed that much in the past 50-100 years. It’s pretty … a lipstick, it’s still a nice-colored shade in a tube, and blush … A lot of these formulas, they’ve gotten better, the textures are better, we might use them a bit differently, but it’s a low-tech industry, right? Maybe some of these things … thinking about these ideas for such a long time, maybe it’s just the wrong approach.

Jodi Katz

So interesting to think about it. But I want to dissect why I’m obsessed with what you did at wet n wild. I want to just give a little backstory for our listeners on why, why I’ve been so focused on wet n wild. I always gravitate toward the underdog, always, always, always. I’m always thinking about, if this brand just did a small investment in packaging or a small investment in messaging or whatever, think of the shift that would happen, right? It’s almost low-hanging fruit, I think. For years, I’ve been watching wet and wild against the wall in a Walgreen’s or a CVS against the other players en masse, and seeing a lot of money being spent by the other players in terms of marketing and packaging and storytelling. And then, wet n wild was just doing what wet n wild did.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

And in some conversations with people that worked there years ago, I learned that for the customer, sometimes this is the only thing that she can choose ’cause it’s what she can afford.

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

Right? And I just thought to myself, well, what if we just gave her [inaudible 00:28:24] purchase?

Evelyn Wang

Yes.

Jodi Katz

Right?

Evelyn Wang

Right.

Jodi Katz

Wouldn’t that just change everything for her?

Evelyn Wang

Yeah.

Jodi Katz

And then you came, and you did that. You completely, I mean, updated and innovated this brand that really has, from my perspective, from a marketing and storytelling perspective, just done the same thing for decades. You came in, and you gave that customer [inaudible 00:28:47] purchase. And I have no doubt that she’s still buying your product but that other people have gravitated from some of the other mass brands to your brand. Can you dissect a little bit about the process and how you had room to do something that’s really a dream come true type of assignment?

Evelyn Wang

No, it definitely was. Well, thank you so much, first of all. It’s always nice that somebody noticed. Thank you, and I have to say, obviously, I have an amazing team behind me and a lot of support to have accomplished this. But to go back to it, I think it’s a lot of the things that you were saying. First, yes, it was amazing to be able to come in and work on this brand that still has really high awareness. I mean, everyone knows about wet n wild-

Jodi Katz

That’s right.

Evelyn Wang

… right? And all these people have come up to me and said oh, my goodness, it was the first product they ever used, the wet n wild eyeliner or lip gloss, and then sometimes they tell me a bad story about, “Oh, I had to dig so hard to get pigment out of there.” I’m like, “Uh-oh.” But I think that was the whole thing. There’s so much awareness behind this brand. There really actually was a very loyal fan base and, to your point, there are consumers that wet n wild is the only brand that is accessible to them from a price point standpoint. I think that’s the key premise of wet n wild that, as a brand, we were playing with. Yes, we are accessible, and let’s now add trend into that accessibility.

My inspiration was all of these fashion brands like a Forever 21 or an H&M who are able to latch onto trends, trends that are very high end, are just right off the runway, et cetera, and very, very quickly launch them into the market and give it to the consumer at a price she can actually afford. That was the approach with wet n wild. And I was given a lot of leeway to do what had to be done, completely from a product perspective, communication perspective, advertising, branding perspective. It was a big task. I think for the first year I would wake up at 3 a.m. every day with oh, my gosh, note to self. I’ve got to do this tomorrow and talk to the team about this.

But it was exciting, ’cause there was so much to touch and so much to impact, and so much ability to do it quickly and then see the result. There was always that encouragement and feedback loop of oh, my gosh, that was so hard but, hey, we got in the market, and look at the results. I think the core of it is product, right? We had really good product before. I think the quality for the past few years, even way before I got there, has actually been really high. I think maybe what I helped bring to the table is probably, as I said, I love the aesthetic and visual aspect of things. More of that elevation of the design aspect of how are we presenting these products? And, a lot of times, giving basic products a facelift made a big difference. Our blushes … we had great blushes on the market, they were selling, we already had the number one blush in units in entire category.

Jodi Katz

Wow, that’s impressive.

Evelyn Wang

We have a lot of number ones. It’s actually amazing how much volume wet n wild does. And we give it a facelift, and sales increase. I was given a lot of room to do a lot of stuff like that. I think the first year was improving the basics. And then, there was so much potential to build on this idea of fast beauty. And we launched our eCommerce site. That allowed us to have off-cycle launches-

Jodi Katz

Right.

Evelyn Wang

… and not just be so oh, we have this one launch window that we’ve got to hit. Those combinations allowed us to start doing more and more interesting trends, like the whole MegaGlo highlighter that exploded in the market. That came from a limited-edition item selling out, and then we were like hey, let’s put this on our eCommerce site. And every time we did it, it would sell out. It would sell out. It would sell out. We [inaudible 00:33:27] highlighters, our consumers love highlighters. And there really wasn’t anyone else in the market. That’s the other thing that we talked about, accessibility. There was nobody else in the market that had an affordable, high quality and beautiful highlighter. That was only something you could buy in specialty [inaudible 00:33:49]. We gave them that and, then, just crazy things like the rainbow highlighter that’s trending on Etsy.

And that’s one of the things about Markwins, we’re vertically integrated. My product team and myself, we were looking at this launch and said, “Okay, well, let’s see if we can create a rainbow highlighter. And we literally, from the time we had the idea to do that from the time that we launched that on our site was four months.

Jodi Katz

Wow, that’s impressive.

Evelyn Wang

It was great. And then, it sold out. Basically, we broke our website from the traffic. And then, that gave the idea of, hey, we are wet n wild. We can do a lot more with this idea of the wild. And there are so many interesting stories that are being told in cosmetics, and this millennial and Gen B consumer, it’s interesting. They’re so into fantasy and myth. That led to things like the unicorn collection we launched this year. And again, nobody else en masse had a unicorn collection. Our unicorn collection, our mermaid collection, and just the ability to tell all these a little bit more fantastical stories and then to bring those to market and to bring them at an affordable price. All of these things, I think people now actually look to wet n wild as a trend leader. I think, even originally when I started out, it was like we’re a fast follower. We’re going to make sure that, if there’s a trend, we’re going to quickly be the ones that follow it as soon as possible. I’m like oh, that wasn’t mine.

Jodi Katz

No, it’s mine, making noise.

Evelyn Wang

But I think what’s really exciting is, I think now we’re actually even seen as being a trend leader in the category.

Jodi Katz

Evelyn, this is honestly such a fan girl moment for me to be able to chat with you.

Evelyn Wang

Oh, my gosh.

Jodi Katz

I really am. I’m enamored, and it’s just one of those universal forces. I’ve been thinking about you for so long, watching this, and then I get to meet you. It’s incredible.

Evelyn Wang

Oh, gosh.

Jodi Katz

Thank you so much for being a guest.

Evelyn Wang

Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Jodi Katz

I hope you had fun on the podcast.

Evelyn Wang

I had fun. My first podcast.

Jodi Katz

Yay.

Evelyn Wang

It was great.

Jodi Katz

And for our listeners, I hope you enjoyed this interview with Evelyn. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes, and for updates about the show please follow us on Instagram at Base Beauty Creative Agency.

Announcer

Thanks for listening to Where Brains Meet Beauty with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

 

 

Scroll to top