Growth

Adore Beauty founder: How I snagged a deal with Estée Lauder

Kirsten Robb /

Clinique will be one of the brands stocked by Adore Beauty

Online Australian beauty retailer and Smart50 finalist, Adore Beauty, has secured a deal with US cosmetics giant Estée Lauder.

Adore Beauty will become the only Aussie pure-play online retailer to stock Estée Lauder’s brands, which include the Estée Lauder flagship label, Clinique, and Bobbi Brown.

Founder Kate Morris told SmartCompany the deal was the result of a few years of hard work.

“We’ve been talking to them for several years,” says Morris. “We’ve been talking about their digital strategy and what they wanted to achieve, and eventually we got there.”

Before now, Estée Lauder has only been stocked online by the department stores, traditionally focusing on its bricks-and-mortar business. The Clinique brand will be available from Adore Beauty from today.

Morris says the New York-based retailer was impressed by Adore Beauty’s position in the Australian market.

“The fact we are very innovative, we are nimble and we can move quickly. We’re very responsive to what the modern beauty consumer is looking for, and I think agility is the core strength any retail business that is going to survive going forward,” she says.

“Adore Beauty has built a reputation in the beauty industry as a retailer that is innovative and respects brands integrity,” says Morris, pointing to the company’s strategic goal to bring on-board more of the industry’s biggest names. 

“We have been working on the objective for a few years,” she says.

The $7 million business will come up to its 15th anniversary next year, and Morris says she has several more exciting brand announcements in the works for 2015.

Morris says many of the big cosmetic players are looking at their digital strategy to work out how best to serve their customers online. While many, including Estée Lauder, have their own online presence, she says partnering with retailers like Adore Beauty gives them access to a much larger market and the opportunity to find new customers.

And while bricks-and-mortar cosmetic players such as Myer’s Bernie Brookes says they are concerned about the arrival of US beauty giant Sephora, which opens its first store in Sydney today, Morris believes that as an online business, she has  been competing with global players from the start.

“Any retailer that thinks they are not competing globally is deluding themselves,” she says.

“I do wonder at retailers who only look at bricks-and-mortar. I think every retailer has to face a future where you have to be a global competitor because even if you think locally, you’re customers think globally.”

Morris says there is “not a huge amount of crossover” of Adore Beauty’s biggest selling brands compared to those stocked by Sephora, and beauty is a very brand focused industry.

“There will definitely will be a lot of novelty [around Sephora], and then we’ll see what happens after that,” she says.

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Kirsten Robb

Kirsten Robb is a former journalist at SmartCompany. Previously, she worked at News Corp as a property reporter for Leader Newspapers and the Herald Sun, and holds a Masters of Journalism at Melbourne University.

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