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Filling The Customization Gap In The Cosmetics Market, On-Demand

Given the abundance of beauty products of all makes, formulations and descriptions on the market worldwide, not to mention the limitless hours of makeup and beauty tutorials on YouTube and Instagram, it is hard to imagine that there might be any segment of the beauty market left untapped – or that there are still customers who are struggling to find the products they want or need.

At this point, the trouble is that there are almost too many choices and recommendations out there, noted Baalm Founder Mandi Nyambi. Beauty customers are flooded with options and information on products – but the relevance of those products is an area of uncertainty.

“There’s really no one you can talk to and say, ‘Hey, this is what I’m doing for my skin, this is my routine, and this is what it looks like. Can you talk to me about what I’m doing wrong? Can we troubleshoot this?’ Or, ‘I’m choosing between products and I would like to talk to someone about it,’” Nyambi said in an interview with Elle.

The gap in the market, she believed, was between finding a product – via skincare articles, blog posts or influencers – and knowing whether or not they should spend the money to try it out. Baalm, the firm she co-founded with Lanya Olmsted, aims to fill that gap and help guide consumers through a customized journey to take better care of their skin.

The business itself has been a project in evolving goals. Baalm started out as a beauty newsletter called Le CultureClub, which evolved into a paid membership community to support members’ beauty goals.

The memberships are not expensive – $15 pays off the lifetime cost of joining. At sign-up, as is often the case with beauty brands, members fill out a skin quiz about what improvements they are looking to make, their skincare history and their current routine.

Members have access to one-on-one video conferences with an esthetician to help them develop a personalized skincare routine and plan of attack. Sessions can be for 15 or 30 minutes, at two pricing tiers for $15 or $40 for members. Non-members can also schedule a one-on-one personalized skincare consultation, but they only have one option: a $20, 20-minute introductory consultation. For an ongoing relationship, customers have to join.

The goal for the brand, according to Nyambi, is to make customized and personalized skincare guidance accessible to any consumer who wants it. Dermatologists and estheticians exist in major metropolitan areas, she noted, but not necessarily in every small town or rural and suburban area.

In Baalm’s approach to the market, the company is developing what they call a “50-state strategy.” Although the firm is based in New York, the goal is to create a platform that will connect consumers with the right products regardless of their ages, backgrounds, specialties or locations.

With video conferencing, Nyambi noted, the accessibility playing field is leveled for all consumers.

“Our whole ethos is that anyone can have good skin, and it’s really important that we start first with loving our skin,” she said.

For the time being, Baalm is working to onboard estheticians and expand their personal skincare consultations. What’s next for the firm? The skincare consultations are the first of many ways the company plans to monetize the platform, according to its founders, but their future moves – as well as any potential plans to move into their own branded skincare offering – remain a question mark.

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