Episode 66

Kristy Engels doesn’t have a beauty line, and isn’t a retailer, either. As the SVP of Marketing and Brand Strategy at Beauty Strategy Group and Beauty Barrage, she’s the third party you need when you’re the former trying to reach the latter. In other words: A vendor.

“A lot of startup brands don’t have big internal teams – everyone they utilize is an outside vendor. I think for them, “vendor” isn’t necessarily a bad word,” says Kristy. “But maybe for those more established, with all of the entrepreneurs and startups nipping at their heels, it is a bit more threatening.”

In this episode, Jodi and Kristy explore the interesting dynamic between brands, retailers and their third party partners. Kristy also opens our eyes to the challenges of getting a brand to retail, and costs many don’t expect will crop up once they get there.

AnnouncerWelcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY™ hosted by Jodi Katz, Founder and Creative Director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzHey everybody, welcome back to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY™. I am sitting across from Kristy Engels. She's at SVP Marketing at Beauty Strategy Group and Beauty Barrage. Welcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY™.
Kristy EngelsThank you for having me.
Jodi KatzI am so happy to see your smiling face.
Kristy EngelsAw, thank you. I'm so happy to be here and just honored that you considered me to speak.
Jodi KatzThis is so awesome. I want to tell everybody how we met. It was actually our podcast guest, Tracy Murphy, like almost a year ago probably, who introduces us.
Kristy EngelsActually, I think I introduced you to Tracy.
Jodi KatzOh, then how did I meet you?
Kristy EngelsWe had a mutual client in common, and I called you up.
Jodi KatzOh, is that it? Oh, that's right. Oh my God, you're totally right.
Kristy EngelsYes, we have to meet.
Jodi KatzOkay, I have it totally wrong. I was actually, when I was writing this I'm like, "Wow, that's so smart of Tracy to think to connect us. How would she think about that?"
Kristy EngelsIt was like, "You have to meet Tracy. She's amazing."
Jodi KatzYou're right, we had a mutual client in common, and we've had many, the year of so that I've met you, and you connected me with Tracy, so I have that wrong, but thank you for clarifying.
Kristy EngelsSorry.
Jodi KatzThe whole point of me making notes about this is because I love knowing you, because we're both vendors in this wild west of beauty, and I feel like with you I have a sounding board, just for the challenges of weaving through this business.
Kristy EngelsFor sure.
Jodi KatzI have a question for you then about this, so I'm a vendor and you're a vendor, which means that we're just not the brand.
Kristy EngelsCorrect.
Jodi KatzI feel like sometimes in our industry, vendor is like a four letter word.
Kristy EngelsOh yeah.
Jodi KatzYou have the same experience.
Kristy EngelsAbsolutely, we like to try, we're trying to prove that third party isn't third rate, on a continuing basis.
Jodi KatzWhat a clever thing. Did you guys trademark that?
Kristy EngelsMaybe we should.
Jodi KatzYeah, you should.
Kristy EngelsOkay.
Jodi KatzBecause that's how I feel, not from our clients, but this general sort of the way the business works, from networking organizations and events organizations, I feel like vendor is like a FU kind of word.
Kristy EngelsMm-hmm (affirmative), absolutely.
Jodi KatzIt drives me nuts.
Kristy EngelsThe funny thing is, a lot of these start up brands don't have big, internal teams. Everybody that they're utilizing is an outside vendor, so I think from the entrepreneurs, it's not necessarily a bad word, but from maybe the established players in the industry that are threatened by all of the entrepreneurs and start ups nipping at their heels, it is much more threatening.
Jodi KatzRight, so I want to join the crusade with you on making, like erasing this notion.
Kristy EngelsThe stigma.
Jodi KatzRight, I mean when I think about product development, and I'm not a product developer and neither are you, you think about these third party labs that are doing innovations around mascara, and they're the ones that are driving the mascara industry forward. It's not the brand. The brand's the marketing tool, right?
Kristy EngelsAbsolutely.
Jodi KatzIt's like those people are investing the time, and the stickiness of the formula and the whatever the formula, and they're vendors.
Kristy EngelsYeah.
Jodi KatzI think it's really us who are driving the business forward just as much as the brands.
Kristy EngelsAbsolutely, no I would completely agree with you on that.
Jodi KatzI'll carry my soapbox to our next meet up, and we'll talk about this.
Kristy EngelsWe'll shout it from the rafters if we need to.
Jodi KatzWe can start a magazine all around vendor life.
Kristy EngelsMaybe it should be a blog. Remember, print is dead.
Jodi KatzNo, but I think it's going to come back.
Kristy EngelsI think so too. I think it's percolating a little bit. I think there is, people have been so immersed in digital, that they're really seeking that kind of, more of a touch and feel to things like tactile. That's why as big as beauty is online, retail is never going to die because people are always going to want to touch and feel, and smell, and play with a product.
Jodi KatzRight, I think that print is going to come back. I think it's going to be more niche, so maybe if you're a publisher you have to own a lot of lot of titles, you know, reach a lot of different types of people, but it's a mostly fragrance. There's going to be something for everybody, and the tactile experience of opening a magazine and carrying it with you, and kind of pulling things out of it, and putting on your wall, it's going to be back. I think people are going to crave it because we have an influencer marketplace right now, where it's so much pay to play that it's becoming untrustworthy, so people are going to crave, I believe, really more like this voice of reason. This has a kind of curated effect that maybe ultimately is paid by advertising, but those people are a little bit more of their own universe then people who are making decisions about what's great and what's not.
Kristy EngelsYeah. I think that's an interesting point. I mean if you look at some of the traditional print publications, you know, Pinterest is definitely verging more towards digital and digital experiences, and closing up some of their print titles, but then you'll see some of the European fashion magazines, like Purple, maybe it's a quarterly publication where you have beautiful tear sheets of really beautiful paper quality, and people want that sort of stuff to hang onto, and as you said, like hang it on your walls, have a little inspiration board that's outside of Pinterest and your office.
Jodi KatzYeah, so that's the other soapbox I guess I'll carry with me to our next meet up. Okay, so tell me how you're going to be spending your day today.
Kristy EngelsHow am I spending my day today, I have a lot of catching up to do. We were just in Palm Beach last week for the Women's Wear Daily Beauty CEO Summit, and so there's a lot of follow up with people that we met there, follow up emails, just sharing some of the imagery we created. We did a really cool little pop up bizarre with a couple brands, and had a lot of pictures. I've got to get all of that stuff out, and we're actually planning for a webinar that we're doing on Thursday. Sonia's going to be speaking on a webinar about staffing, building the right field team, basically.
Jodi KatzOh, that's cool. Can you tell us what is Beauty Strategy Group and Beauty Barrage?
Kristy EngelsThere's two different sides of the same coin, if you will. The Beauty Strategy Group is everything it takes to sell into retail, so from branding, marketing, retail presentations, we'll even work with product development and formulators to really kind of help facilitate the final brand formulation, packaging vendors, like referring people like yourself to help create just the overall brand identity, so everything to get you into retail distribution, social media, PR, influencer strategy, all of that stuff.

In some respects, getting into retail is the easy part, so a lot of times as a brand, you think, "Once I get retail distribution product just sells itself. I have to do nothing. I'm on easy street cashing checks." No, selling through is the more challenging part of that, so that's where the Beauty Barrage business comes in. Having done a couple of startups in the past, I know how challenging it is to identify, find, educate, hire and a field team. You can't be in all places at all times. Travel and the T&E expenditure can be quite prohibitive to have maybe just a couple of people trying to hit every single door you're in, so we offer 300 hundred people, servicing 3,000 doors in North America, to go in as your brand.

We have a really rigorous training and education program, that they are well versed on your brand attributes, your key selling points, and they go in as your brand. They're never walking in store going, "Oh hey, I'm like with Beauty Barrage, and I'm here for ... What brand is it today?" They go in basically looking like your brand, sounding like your brand, and in fact we've actually had a few different case studies where we've out-performed internal brand teams.
Jodi KatzOh my God.
Kristy EngelsYeah.
Jodi KatzThis is a genius idea.
Kristy EngelsSonia Summers is a genius. Shout out to my CEO, but I mean she's, this was all her brain child. She'd been so successful placing brands at retail, they got into retail and were asked, you know, Sephora has a requirement, they're looking for a brand to have six hours, people in store for six hours a month to service the brand, and brands are like, "Where am I going to find people to service at least my top 200 doors?" I mean that can be very prohibitive and challenging, just from a time and manpower perspective, and then you've got to hire somebody just to basically be HR, to manage your field team on top of everything else you're worried about.

She had a few people saying like, "You have to help us do this," and she's like, "No way, it's like herding cats with ADD, not interested, no thank you." She had staffed field teams in the past, and wound up paying for a lot of people that were just sitting at home on their couch, so she's investing a lot of money in doing it right. We have a proprietary app that we developed on our own, that's geo-fenced, so our people in the field can only clock in and clock out from the actual store that they're assigned to. They actually have to complete a survey before they clock out, so we work with the brand to get questions, they're going to want to know how many people did you train, what does the inventory look like, how do the tester units look like, take a picture of what the display looks like, and they compile all of that feedback, and have to complete those surveys before they actually clock out.

The client actually has access to that in real time, so they have actionable intelligence that they can utilize to really help them improve their business and course correct if they need to.
Jodi KatzIt's really genius. I kind of want to be on your field team.
Kristy EngelsCome aboard.
Jodi KatzI love it because I do think that what's in the scene of the whole marketing landscape the past few years is a focus on person to person interaction, like human to human. We're like so many, we meet so many brands, whether they become clients or not, who are obsessed with what's happening on social, and what's happening in digital marketing, which I'm not saying is unimportant, but I think we're losing sight of a human to a human, and we need to focus on that. I think that needs to be an investment.
Kristy EngelsYeah, I mean the human touch is really what it's all about. There's just that interesting magic that I think takes place in stores sometimes, where somebody opens your eyes to something that, basically just sitting there on a shelf on its own, like maybe the hue doesn't look like it would actually be right on your skin, but you don't understand that maybe it's going to transform a little bit, and blend exactly to be the perfect lipstick for you, that you would have passed by had somebody not taken the time to talk to you about it, and explain what it does.
Jodi KatzRight, I think a lot of the decision making, at least for myself, when I boil down my emotions, when I'm trying to pick a new foundation shade, or whatever, is the courage to think that, or the faith to think I'm making the right choice. That's when another human being, who has been around the product for many months, and many faces, can give me that strength to be like, "Yeah, it is the right color for you. Don't worry about it. Go ahead, buy it, you're fine."
Kristy EngelsRight.
Jodi KatzI need that reinforcement.
Kristy EngelsYeah, and it's nice to hear of somebody that you trust as an authority to say, "You look gorgeous in that. Oh my God, you look amazing," and then that kind of becomes contagious, and I think you feel a lot more confident, for sure.
Jodi KatzYes, I'm spending my money and I'm spending my time, I want to have that feeling of confidence, and not that, "Oh, I don't know. I think I need to bring it back," right?
Kristy EngelsRight.
Jodi KatzI love this idea, and Sonia's my new hero because she's really full throttle.
Kristy EngelsShe really is.
Jodi KatzLet's talk about you. What is your background before this?
Kristy EngelsI had started out as an agent for hair stylists and makeup artists. I was a little bit of a beauty pimp, you know, "You need a hair stylist? I've got one for you. Here's how much it's going to be." I worked with a lot of different celebrity clients. At the time I started, the music industry was still, I don't know, thriving. It was before digital had really overtaken it, so Shakira, I think at one point really helped keep my business afloat. Thank you Shakira.
Jodi KatzBecause she booked the same hair styles and makeup artists?
Kristy EngelsShe had, yeah, she had one of my guys on tour with her for about ten months when she first launched, and it was lucrative. We were making a nice little amount of money on it. It was a fun project to do.

I would do advertising campaigns for L'Oreal, for Revlon, Este Lauder, Chanel, big editorial work, was actually able to call Chanel and say, "Oh, I have somebody doing somebody's makeup for the Red Carpet. Would you be interested in that," and actually figuring out that the brands would pay money to get the promotional credit, and the product credit, so learned that an early stage, I would say. I did that for about ten years, and it was super fun, made a lot of amazing relationships, and had one of my hair stylists say that he was interested in starting a hair care line, and I naively said, "Well golly gee, that sounds like fun. I'd love to help," and made me his business partner, and I had no idea what I was getting in for at all.
Jodi KatzWhen was this?
Kristy EngelsThis was in 2007, and I remember the first time we were talking to a manufacturer, and they said, "Just send over your BOMS," and I was like, "What's a BOM? I'm sorry, you need to explain this to me please." "Your bill of materials." "Well, okay what does that look like? Can you send me a sample?" I mean it was really getting an MBA on the job.
Jodi KatzWhat is a BOM?
Kristy EngelsYour bill of materials, so if you're preparing your bill of materials, it's basically what's in your product, what your product consists of, so for a finished good it's going to be a cap and a label, and a component, and actually having to come up with item numbers for all of those. Your own internal item numbers, it was planning a lot of different things, for sure.
Jodi KatzDid the brand take off?
Kristy EngelsThe brand took off. We did really, really well, and we were actually doing content marketing, I think, before content marketing was known as something, and working with influencers online, doing a lot of YouTube content, so I understood that anytime somebody contacted us with a customer service question about their hair, because our product line was, we were formulated based on your hair texture, so kinky, curly, wavy or straight, and we were having a very different dialogue with the consumer than I think a lot of the other big brands were.

Dickey, the celebrity hair stylist that was the founder of the brand, the brand was called Hair Rules, he had written a book, basically educating women on how to ... Educating them on their hair texture and what it needed, so when people would write to us with questions for him, you know, related to transitioning, or stopping relaxers, or even sometimes caring for their kids' hair because they had never really been taught how to work with their own texture on their own, instead of just responding to somebody and having a one on one conversation, I worked with Dickey to actually do video content, and so these customer questions through video that we would then post to YouTube, so then other people who maybe had that same question haven't thought to write to us, had the answer there.

We were doing a lot of video content, and it was certainly a fun time. I mean Facebook was just opening up for people outside of college campuses, and it was before it was really a pay to play sort of scenario. We built a lot of authentic community with the end consumer, and we won a WWD award for best launch at Madison 2012.
Jodi KatzWow, that's great.
Kristy EngelsYeah, really great.
Jodi KatzWas this a self-funded initiative?
Kristy EngelsWe had an outside investor, and unfortunately we launched in 2007, got into the market in 2008, right as the economy took a complete nose dive, and I don't know if the retail landscape was 100% ready for us at the time. I think it's changed quite a bit now. Now diversity is the buzz word, and we were talking to retailers about, "This is where the trend is going. Look at the census data. This is what's happening, and you're a fool to think that it's not happening." At that point there was still a lot of segregation in the aisles, especially at mass for hair care, and we were trying to argue like, "You're not servicing your customer by doing that," and so we were kind of this bridge between, I would say, your mainstream hair care and your ethnic hair care, because we worked for all textures, and we were probably one of the first sulfate free, parabion free, phthalate free brands. We were talking about that in 2008, and now that's kind of table stakes.
Jodi KatzRight, how fascinating. What happened with the company?
Kristy EngelsDickey is actually still running the brand. We had opened a salon, In House Kitchen, he's still doing the salon there. The funding kind of dried up, and we had launched into Ulta and Target and Walgreens and we just didn't have the marketing dollars to support a launch like that. You don't realize how much it takes to sell that sort of stuff off the shelf. It was basically, we lost the outside investment, and we were going to be, continue to be self-funding, and I got an opportunity to join another brand, and took that, which was, they had serious amounts of funding, and it was actually sold within two and a half years of launch, to J&J.
Jodi KatzWow, what was that brand?
Kristy EngelsIt was an LED light therapy device called, Illumask. We were trying to democratize light therapy, so it was a dollar a day usage, basically. We had two different devices. One for acne, so it was red and blue light, and another device for anti-aging, which used red and infrared light. Thirty doses, thirty treatments for $30.00, and was sold at Walmart.
Jodi KatzWow, congratulations.
Kristy EngelsThank you, yeah it was a really fun project to be on. I had a pretty big budget to play with, and was able to do a big advertising campaign with Facebook, and actually getting Facebook people on the phone, which made me feel great, like, "Whoa, Facebook's talking to me," and some other outside agencies to create the proper audience, and then created all of the content and education materials, to get people to understand this and not be afraid of it. The campaign that we put together took it to the number one skew in beauty at Walmart within six weeks of launch.
Jodi KatzWow, that's awesome.
Kristy EngelsWhich was ...
Jodi KatzVery fast.
Kristy EngelsVery, that was a nice little feather in my cap.
Jodi KatzYou mentioned like having a marketing budget. While social lets us do things on the cheap, like there really is a point where the free doesn't work anymore, right, you need to make investments, which I think a lot of brands, maybe the same brand that you meet, that I meet where it's kind of a surprise to them, the amount of money that they need to invest to really move forward.
Kristy EngelsYeah, I mean they keep changing the algorithms, so Facebook, you know when we had gotten in with Hair Rules in 2007, there wasn't really that pay to play aspect, and I think it was probably around 2010, 2011, you started having to pay. I think by 2012 was really when they switched things that you had to pay to reach your audience, so the whole point of creating a big audience of people that you could figure you could have organic engagement of 30 to 40%, so it made the sense to build an audience or maybe even do like a dollar a like campaign, or something like that. If you had a million people, you could reach 30,000 of them organically.

Now, you are only going to reach about .2% of your audience unless you're spending the money to boost it to your audience. Instagram used to be free too, but it's owned by Facebook, and they've been sitting there for a long time, kind of figuring how are they going to monetize it. Now, that's rolled out, I mean even some of the influencers are having to monetize their posts because if you see, I'm sure you see how your feed has changed over the last year.
Jodi KatzYeah.
Kristy EngelsYou can be following people that huge, huge audiences, and it might not necessarily be showing up in your feed, so you do have to spend the money to get it, for sure.
Jodi KatzYeah, and then you talk about all the marketing money to actually get the product to be sold, right? This is not a ... You have a lot of people enter the beauty industry, I think, thinking it's going to be a get rich quick scheme.
Kristy EngelsWell they thing, all they hear, the margins are great.
Jodi KatzRight. Well, but all that money goes to marketing.
Kristy EngelsYeah, really fast. I mean we'll do a robust PNL for brands, to kind of show them what success at retail looks like, and they're kind of like looking, "Okay, when does the money come back in," because there is a significant amount of investment. If you get into Sephora, getting into those digital programs, unless Sephora's really investing in your brand, and helping to offset some of that cost for you, getting in and featured in Sephora newsletter is going to cost you money. Scouted at Sephora, that's a little bit more organic, but the digital programs there, they don't come for free.
Jodi KatzRight.
Kristy EngelsI think one thing that was very eye-opening for me was I kind of thought that, I guess I didn't really expect that you were a revenue line for the retailer, so they're looking to try and, you know, how much did they get from you in a commitment for a circular, or an email blast, or an N cap, or dollars for promotional programs that you're attributing, so there's all these other allowances and deductions that you don't necessarily realize right off the bat, and that can be very enlightening when you see it on paper or an Excel spreadsheet.
Jodi KatzYeah, I would imagine it's an awakening for new people into this.
Kristy EngelsDefinitely.
Jodi KatzRight, so when you think about all the costs involved in actually driving sales at retail, what does the little player do? Let's say there's a small brand, they don't have this marketing army, they don't have a giant marketing budget, when you really believe in the product, if you're like, "Wow, I think this actually is moving and differentiating," what can they do?
Kristy EngelsThe Beauty Barrage side of the business, we like to say that we're kind of bringing the online experience offline in stores. I think there's a lot of brands right now that are starting online, because it's a little easier to build a consumer base. If you're spending all that money to build an audience and drive awareness, why are you going to siphon that off to a retailer when you can do direct to your own .com? They get to a point where you've kind of maxed out on the potential revenue, and the only way to increase sales is to go into retail.

The retailers are following all of these brands on Instagram, and we see it when we meet with a retailer, and you mention a brand, the first thing they do is go to Instagram and look for their story, so they're being a little bit more cautious, I think, in who they're bringing in-store now, because it's so competitive, and are looking for brands that already have an established point of view story and consumer, that they're going to drive into their doors.

Once you get into retail, there is work to be done to be sold through, and that really comes with the training and education. As I said, that's what we do on the Beauty Barrage side, so it can be very cost prohibitive to try and hit all of your doors all at the same time, so really kind of coming up with a strategy focused on that, the old 80/20 rule, where you know 80% of your business is probably going to come from 20% of your stores, so focusing on those 20% of the doors to begin with, and spending the time to get the ROI, then expanding a program from there.

To drive awareness, I think definitely participating in some of the GWP programs that some of the retailers have, or getting in some of the subscription boxes, like in Ipsy or Fab Fit Fun, to really help build awareness, and then build a little bit of a relationship that will help to translate at the store level.
Jodi KatzWhat do you think is missing, like product or brand wise, from the marketplace? Do you see opportunities for newness?
Kristy EngelsI think there's always opportunities for newness. K-Beauty is so hot right now, now they're kind of talking about J-Beauty, and I think what's interesting about all of that is they're really bringing in different formats and difference is Sephora experiences that you hadn't seen before. I think making skin care super fun with these really unusual textures and changes that you'll see. Yeah, there's definitely, I think, some opportunity for white space, and some things that we've contemplated doing on our own, so I mean, I'll share that.
Jodi KatzInteresting, conversation for when the microphones are turned off.
Kristy EngelsYeah, there's some things that we've thought, like was white space in the market that so far haven't seen anybody fully step into that I think could still be an opportunity, but I think it's really, excuse me, it's really interesting to see how different skin care has become. When we launched the Illumask, people weren't really Instagramming about skin care so much. It was before the whole masking thing took off, and I recognize like a lot of this just kind of natural conversation taking place, like everybody wanted to do a selfie with this crazy glowing mask on their face, and a lot of other brands took notice of that, and so you'll see Glam Glo did like a partnership with Super Mario, so they have this crazy, really blue colored mask.

I got, we'd ordered something from Korea the other day, and got these sheet masks with funny animal shapes on them, that my son did them, and he didn't look anything like the animal on the envelope, but he had a blast doing it.
Jodi KatzThat's so funny.
Kristy EngelsHe thought it was super fun. Yeah, I mean I think color cosmetics, it's a little trickier to find something truly innovative, but as I went shopping for a lipstick the other day, it was just like everything is these heavy, almost vinyl liquid lipsticks, and masks, and I'm like, "When is kind of a little bit of a hydrating shine coming back?" I hope to see that back on the shelf soon.
Jodi KatzInteresting. I have a question for you about your role in the company, what it's like to work for a visionary founder. I've noticed with my team, I just called myself a visionary founder too. With my team, they feel like a very heavy sense of responsibility, which I don't think I've asked for, but they just feel it, the sense of responsibility and doing the right thing for the business, and really ... In a way that I think is very sweet and kind, and amazing, but makes them sometimes scared, I don't know if scared is the right word, but hesitant to make certain decisions that they think could make a client want to leave, or whatever, I don't know, something.
Kristy EngelsRight.
Jodi KatzThey take on a sense of responsibility that I don't think they need to, but they make it so personal, because it's so personal for me. Do you feel that with Sonia? Do you feel like this is her baby and you're doing everything you can to feed the baby, and wipe the baby, and help the baby grow?
Kristy EngelsDefinitely, but I also feel that she's empowered us with some of what you're talking about, the ability to make a decision. I'm fortunate because I've actually known Sonia personally. With Hair Rules, she helped us to get onto the Shopping Channel Canada. I had worked with her for the first time like six years ago, and then with Illumask, she did some training and education for us with some Ulta stores, so I've already worked with her. Personally, we'll sometimes joke that it's like the Hair Club for Men, I'm not just a client, now I'm on the board.

There was a particular client we had on the BSG side, where they wanted us to take them into Sephora, and we kind of took a look at everything they had, and we're like, "It's just another Me Too brand. They already have a brand that does this exact thing. It's one of their best sellers. They're not going to kick them out just because you think your product works better. It might even perform better, but that's not enough of a reason for them to give you shelf space. We're not seeing innovation. We've talked to your innovation product development team, there's zero innovation in the pipeline. Here's some ideas for where we see the white space at retail, and some ideas that we think could work." They fired us.

One part of me is just like, "Oh my God, we got fired by a client. She's going to be so pissed," but the other part is that now we kind of take that as a badge of honor, like we're not afraid to tell people the truth. A lot of times, when I talk to Sonia, and maybe my instinct is pointing me in a particular direction, and I just need a sounding board, we're aligned, so I feel like she's done a really good job of building a team with people who kind of align with her vision and her ethos, and understanding how far we can push the boundaries, and when we need to reign it back in.
Jodi KatzYeah, my team, I think the right word is cautious, they're like very cautious.
Kristy EngelsRight.
Jodi KatzEven though I say to them, "If a client leaves, it has nothing to do with us."
Kristy EngelsRight.
Jodi KatzIt really has nothing to do with us. We're always going to do our work. We're always going to do the best. We're always going to say what we need to say. If they fire us, they fire us.
Kristy EngelsRight.
Jodi KatzThere are so many things about our business that are completely out of our control, right, so I think I need to do some work shopping with them to get them to feel less cautious.
Kristy EngelsYeah.
Jodi KatzI don't want them to feel cautious.
Kristy EngelsWell, you want to retain clients. You certainly want to retain clients, but at what cost, you know. At some point the alignment isn't there, in terms of ... We'll joke sometimes that your client comes in, and it's like a horse that's dehydrated and desperately in need of water, and you draw them a map, and like, "Okay, here's where the watering hole is, and I'm going to bring your horse there, and I'm going to show him how to kneel down and drink the water," and they kind of think, "Well, okay we got the map. We understand where it is. We'll get to that later," and it's like, "No, your horse is going to die," and then the horse dies and they're pissed because I think, sometimes they just think it's osmosis is going to, how they're going to rehydrate.
Jodi KatzRight.
Kristy EngelsThat's not necessarily how it works. It's gotten to the point now where I've started to tell brands, new brands that come on, if they're questioning the retainer, and I said, "Look, if it's a matter of you can afford our retainer, or you can afford to try and build your audience, and build consumers, and build awareness, you need to be focused on building your audience and awareness. You're going to be wasting your money on us unless you already have a consumer."
Jodi KatzRight, right.
Kristy EngelsRetail really isn't going to want you without a little bit of proof, unless it's just the most amazing concept they've seen in years.
Jodi KatzRight, I love your horse, thirsty horse picture that really is hilarious, and totally true, right?
Kristy EngelsRight.
Jodi KatzAs an external partner, we can only say these things. We can't make them do it.
Kristy EngelsRight, I can't force you to drink the water.
Jodi KatzRight, and I think that's where it gets super personal for me, like "I see it. Why don't you see it? Make the horse drink. If you make the horse drink, there's so much green grass beyond."
Kristy EngelsYou can ride a lot further into the sunset.
Jodi KatzThen I've needed to just chill out because it's not my brand, right, I'm giving them my expertise.
Kristy EngelsRight.
Jodi KatzWe're handing over our point of view. We can't make them do it.
Kristy EngelsRight.
Jodi KatzIt's hard.
Kristy EngelsIt's really challenging because I, you're not the brand, as you say, but sometimes you take a little bit of pride in that brand.
Jodi KatzWe take a lot of it.
Kristy EngelsYeah, absolutely. It kind of becomes your little defacto baby too, and so you really want to help point them in the right direction and help them get the training wheels off and succeed on their own, and they don't always want to listen.
Jodi KatzRight. Well, it's so nice to talk to a fellow vendor.
Kristy EngelsThank you, and I would definitely say you are nowhere near third rate at all.
Jodi KatzThank you.
Kristy EngelsFirst rate, in our opinion, for sure.
Jodi KatzI'm fluffing my hair after hearing that. Thank you for your wisdom today, Kristy. It's awesome to have you here.
Kristy EngelsThank you for inviting me. This is so fun. We're done already?
Jodi KatzYeah, look it's 31 minutes.
Kristy EngelsOh my goodness. We could keep going.
Jodi KatzFor our listeners, I hope you enjoyed this interview with Kristy. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes, and for updates about the show, follow us on Instagram at WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY™ podcast.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY™ with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.
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