There’s a beauty movement going on. And according to Jodie Patterson, cofounder and chief creative officer of DooBop, it was birthed by necessity, frustration, and technology. “The beauty industry is big business, and the micromanagement of women is a multimillion dollar industry,” she explains, adding that women whose psyches have been damaged by this micromanagement are fighting back–including women of color who are marginalized in the pages of magazines and in offerings of existing companies. “We had to self define…and the Internet lets us get our voices out.”
For Patterson, this self-definition has found expression at DooBop.com. The site, which launched last November, is the first beauty e-tailer geared towards women of color. Though it only carries only two mass-market brands, classic lines Iman and Fashion Fair, its offerings go well beyond what a shopper can find on Sephora. The rest of its inventory is comprised of a global cache of niche brands, like Nuhancium and Ahava, from as far away as France and Israel–and as close as Brooklyn, thanks to Patterson’s own line, Georgia. DooBop, like its chief creative officer, is an unapologetic “beauty explorer” and its target shoppers are affluent women of color who may travel the globe, but whose sensibilities are decidedly city-minded. Though Patterson, a mother of four, is very much this woman, she also relies on the opinions of a group she calls “influencers,” an expansive focus group of roughly 100 friends and acquaintances that weigh in on every item available on DooBop.
Patterson believes deeply in the power of collaboration, and she has found business synergy with DooBop cofounder and CEO Benjamin Bernet. After a decade in corporate America working for L’Oreal as a marketing executive for accounts including Kiehl’s, he was itching to become an entrepreneur. Bernet branched out when he thought the timing was opportune. “The beauty industry has been slow to move online and most established industry players were not doing a lot to innovate in the digital space. In 2011, only 5% of total beauty retail sales happened online, which seemed very low to me, given the trends in other product categories,” he explains. Mutual friends introduced Bernet and Patterson, who was also looking to enter the digital space after closing down her retail beauty store in Manhattan.
That was one year ago, and after a successful round of financing that provided $1.3 million in seed funding, DooBop was born. The site includes how-to videos by top experts in the field–Patterson calls them the new generation of “beauty gladiators”–who emphasize that the site is dedicated to breaking the mold on how beauty is discussed. Patterson believes it is well past time. “In the zeitgeist, there’s this idea of women wanting to be really successful and really beautiful. Not just the beauty vixen who is sort of vapid but beautiful, or the career woman who in her spare time does some beauty things. This woman embraces day-to-day the concept of being successful and beautiful,” she says. “I want DooBop to talk beyond the lotions and the potions, they are important. But beauty with a big B includes the external–and the internal. I want to speak to that complete woman.”