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It’s official: skincare is growing faster than any other segment in the beauty industry. Minimalist skincare regimens, or “clean beauty,” have become the next big thing, and entrepreneurs are scrambling to develop the best formula for every customer’s need. But with so many competitors in a highly saturated market, how can a new business expect to gain a foothold? 

For Tribe Skincare founder Kayla Houlihan, the answer lay within rebranding.

Upon noticing a massive gap in the skincare market for people with sensitive skin, Houlihan decided to use her knowledge of the industry to develop top-tier organic and gentle formulas. Using natural, plant-based ingredients, Houlihan launched a skincare line that was specifically targeted at this niche group. 

But Houlihan didn’t want Tribe Skincare to become just another mainstream beauty business: she wanted to transform her venture into a customer-focused and experience-driven brand whose goal was to build a loyal community of skincare enthusiasts. 

From the Clinic to Creation 

Houlihan is by no means a “newbie” in the skincare arena — for over 5 years, she ran a skin clinic with her sister, which specialized in result-focused and active skin treatments. While nearly half of their clients received amazing results, Houlihan noticed that the other half of their clientele was experiencing redness, irritation, and other adverse reactions to this active skincare technique.  

“We were looking for something for sensitive skin to use in the clinic and this is when I had a light-bulb moment and realized there was a really big gap in the market for this niche skincare,” Houlihan tells Starter Story. “I wanted to create a super gentle skincare range free of common allergens and harsh chemicals, but also ensure customers got incredible results from it.”

But to develop this “super gentle” formula, Houlihan would have to ensure all her products were free of artificial preservatives and other harsh chemicals commonly found in skincare products. 

So, using a variety of natural, plant-based ingredients, Houlihan began developing products that were specifically for those with sensitive skin. 

“I worked alongside a pharmacist to create many different variations of the formulas until I was 110% satisfied with the texture, scent (100% natural for essential oils), and results in each product offered,” continues Houlihan. 

Launching the Business (the First Time)

While Houlihan was an expert in the skincare industry, she was less experienced when it came to running a business. Prior to the official lunch, Houlihan managed to attract 1,000 followers on Instagram. Then, on the night of the launch, she successfully landed four sales. Though this was the small beginning for the company, Houlihan says this pushed her to become more passionate about her brand.

“I thought this was incredible at the time and wrapped them in tissue paper with thank you stickers and even wrote personalized thank you notes to all the customers. It was a really exciting time in the business.”

A few months later, Tribe Skincare started to take off. With the help of Instagram influencers, the company was able to gain a larger stance on social media. After just three months in business, the Houlihan sisters sold their clinic company to devote their full attention to Tribe Skincare. 

Fast-forward two years, Houlihan had hired a full-time staff for Tribe Skincare, gained over 50,000 followers on social media, and expanded her skincare line to be all-natural, vegan-friendly, and made locally in Australia.

Though this steady growth was certainly positive, Houlihan wanted Tribe Skincare to be seen more as a brand rather than a business. Instead of focusing solely on the development of the products, the founder wanted to increase the customer’s involvement in the brand. 

The Process of Rebranding

Rebranding the company was no easy feat, but Houlihan was dedicated to making sure Tribe Skincare was customer-focused. Keeping the same skincare formulas, Houlihan and her team gave the company an external makeover.

First, they revamped the packaging and appearance of products to reflect the quality of skincare inside. Then, they established strategies to become more responsive to customer feedback.

In doing so, they also changed their focus on social media; instead of solely advertising for the sake of making sales, Houlihan used their platforms to communicate brand values, share advice for people with sensitive skin, and personalize the shopping experience.

Almost immediately, Houlihan saw positive results from the rebrand.

“In the 2 months since it launched, we have had a 20% increase in sales. This is selling to the same audience and community on the same marketing budget, so the increase purely came from customer demand for the new-look packaging,” says the founder

One product, in particular, experienced a 500% increase in sales simply due to a more aesthetically pleasing design and functional packaging. And while Houlihan still places a big emphasis on the business side of things, she hopes to maintain a core focus on the brand-building aspect. 

“It’s more just about me thinking about the longevity of the brand and being forward-focused and ensuring we build a community that genuinely loves the Tribe Skincare products, but also just loves being a part of the brand.”

Expanding Tribe Skincare to Retailers

Since the rebrand, Tribe Skincare has gained nearly 67,000 followers on Instagram, increased its monthly revenue to over $100,000, and partnered up with retailers to offer the customer an in-store experience. This growth, Houlihan states, will allow the brand to double its reach, selling products both in-store and online. 

Her advice to fellow entrepreneurs: “Figure out exactly who your ideal customer is, what they need from you and how you are helping them.” Houlihan successfully used her knowledge of a growing industry to identify her consumer base and create a product to solve their needs. What’s more impressive, she’s managed to do so in one of the most competitive markets.

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