Hacks Newsletter Week 122- #hackingbeauty


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Jeff Lee is the quintessential of Renaissance man. The Yale law/Stanford GSB grad was not only my extraordinary TA~ but he became the COO of A.Rod Corp, and is currently the CEO of L Catterton-backed DIBS Beauty. In between, he was considered Mr. Miss Universe. (A great recent article on Jeff can be found here: https://www.beautyindependent.com/dibs-beauty-ceo-co-founder-jeff-lee-intends-build-influencer-brand-lasts/).
To read my exclusive Q&A with him on #hackingbeauty after his tremendous guest lecture at my University of Chicago Booth Business school class last week, keep reading!
Jeff Lee and colleague Monika at University of Chicago Booth Business School (March 2022).
AR: What are the insights you gleaned as “Mr. Miss Universe” that drives your strategy and goals as the CEO of DIBS Beauty?
JL: Efficiency matters. The beauty industry went through a period in the 2000s where extra steps and complications became equated with a higher quality of execution. From 40 minute YouTube tutorials on makeup to the infamous 10-step (or more) Korean beauty regimen, these are wholly unsuited to the lifestyle of most of our customers. You’re reading a newsletter that’s all about “hacking” through inefficiencies. Do you really need concealer, corrector, foundation, serums, powder and setting spray to go out there and win the day? 

Don’t shy away from what you are. We are a beauty company designed to enhance how you look and feel. Beauty has become a dirty word, and you see a lot of our peers out there shying away from the idea that they are selling cosmetic solutions. The fact is, there are specific outcomes that you will get by putting on our products, and if you feel better about yourself after having used them, then we’ve done our job. This doesn’t have to conflict with the values of diversity and inclusivity (in all senses of those terms), but just as contests like Miss USA and Universe never shy away from the fact that they are beauty pageants (as opposed to “scholarship competitions” that somehow have a swimsuit component) we don’t shy away from our core mission of presenting looks that our customers want to achieve.

AR: What makes DIBS “different” as a make-up company? 

JL: We are a 50-state brand and have been since launch. New beauty companies overwhelmingly come from LA and NYC, and speak to those audiences. We are Austin headquartered, intended to make makeup uncomplicated and effortless while still elevated, and committed to the quality of everything we put out there. Everything we do is multifunctional and innovative in some way, without alienating women who don’t regularly wear makeup. Our team has launched multiple $100M+ brands; if you walk into a Sephora, the products we have directly developed would fill nine displays. In an industry with low barriers to entry, we did the hard work with the most experienced talent out there.

AR: How do you define inner vs. outer beauty? When do you know that they have converged?

Think about the times when you have stopped in a street or in a room and admired someone. It probably wasn’t just because of their outer beauty; they probably radiated supreme confidence, serenity or some other magnetic or imposing quality. I always say that the most beautiful woman has won Miss Universe maybe twice in the last twenty-five years, and even then those winners edged their way to the crown on the basis of personality and confidence. I can always spot a winner when I’m in the room, because it’s the woman with the look on her face of total focus and readiness; I never pick the right one when it’s just an album of headshots. Between 1991 and 2015, only one European woman won Miss Universe, not because Europe is unable to field physically stunning women, but because the entire continent kept sending contestants who didn’t have the walk, talk and presence to close the deal. When you think about our Zoom-dominated world, you can imagine how much more important it is to be able to show your personality and unique beauty through not just your hairstyle or makeup, but also your tone of voice, hand gestures, vocabulary choices, facial expressions and fundamental energy. Very few people are able to get there without that last piece. 

The rule of thumb I have for all of you, who aren’t necessarily competing to be red carpet celebrities or beauty queens, is wear the amount of makeup / skincare that pushes right up to the boundary of discomfort. What I mean is, push yourself to experiment and use the array of beauty out there, because there really are amazing offerings out there from so many brands (DIBS included!) but remember that this is all about building your personal presence. If you find that you’re regularly spending more time worrying about whether you put too much on or blended the colors correctly, step back because it’s become counterproductive. We founded DIBS for women who wear makeup and are always being told by men, “I like you better when you don’t wear makeup.” Those men are missing the entire point. Whatever beauty products you use, whether you just stick a sunscreen on or go full face to the gym, should be about boosting you.

AR: If you had one tip for #hacksthenewsletter readers about image/presence/impact, what would it be?

JL: Understand what you can control about your own image and presence. Remember that you’ll never perfect it, but you should always be learning and improving on the things that make an immediate impact on people when they meet you. That’s the secret to success for the women I’ve worked with who have had enduring careers in image-driven industries.

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WHAT: Talk & Taste Finance & Wine
WHEN: Wednesday, April 6th, 3:00 p.m. Central / 4:00 p.m. Eastern
WHEREInstagram Live! @alyssajrapp

Missed the previous episode of #talkandtaste? 
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There will be no end to the curveballs that life throws. As soon as you feel comfortable, another setback or new challenge will arise. Alyssa Rapp is driven to help people like her—the doers, those who keep swinging—seek to succeed in both life and career. Every challenge is an opportunity, are you making the most of yours?

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