In the fall, Fenty Beauty—the makeup brand developed by musician and entrepreneur Rihanna—smacked into the earth like a meteor, launching at once in 1,600 Sephora stores across 15 countries. Offering a full 40 shades of foundation, Fenty incited a frenzy among options-starved beauty consumers that played out across social media and Sephora outlets, helping boost the Q3 cosmetics and perfume sales of LVMH—both Fenty and Sephora’s parent company—by 17%.
It was one of many recent inclusive beauty successes for Sephora, the exclusive U.S. distributor for Fenty and architect of its unprecedented same-day global launch. “A few years ago, we felt that we could do more, and lead in a much more inclusive manner,” says Calvin McDonald, president and CEO of Sephora Americas. In 2017 alone, that mandate resulted in partnerships with brands such as Pat McGrath Labs, founded by the renowned celebrity makeup artist; Huda Beauty, by the Iraqi-American beauty influencer Huda Kattan; and Stellar, aimed at medium-toned women and created by Canadian TV personality Monika Deol.
It has also fueled technological innovations: Last year, Sephora launched the Beauty Insider Community on its website and app, which lets customers create profiles, filter product reviews, and connect with other users based on traits such as skin tone and personal interests.
It also debuted two vastly different store formats: an 11,300-square-foot, 13,000-product mega space on 34th Street in Manhattan and a 2,000-square-foot Sephora Studio in Boston that offers makeovers, consultations, and concierge-like conveniences. “We want all individuals looking to express their beauty to feel confident, to learn, and to find products that work for them within Sephora,” says McDonald.