Small Beauty Brand Kosas' Founder, Sheena Yaitanes, On Adapting, Responsibility, & Sold-Out Products

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The first thing Kosas' Founder, Sheena Yaitanes, tells TZR over email is that she can't complain. "I am in a demographic that can still work remote from the comfort of my home," she says — then adds, "being a mom to my six-year-old daughter while running Kosas has been an eye-opening challenge, to say the least." Nevertheless, the rise of small beauty brand Kosas has been impressive; a Jan. 16 article from WWD on the brand notes that its business was up "more than 400 percent for 2019" according to industry sources.

Yaitanes' email arrives on April 28, more than a month after California Governor, Gavin Newsom, issued a statewide stay-at-home order March 19 in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Like every other company, the Los Angeles-based beauty brand has had to adjust. "Our number one priority remains our people," says Yaitanes. "With that, we’ve scaled back on larger marketing activations and have gotten really imaginative with how we are utilizing our sales team."

These activations — for those that don't speak industry lingo — were "plans for some larger in-store events, community events, a pop-up, and billboards," explains the founder. Now, focus has shifted to Instagram Lives and live-chatting with Kosas customers online, a new feature for the brand. "We had wanted to get it going for some time, and all of sudden our sales team had some time to really help bring it to life with their support and expertise," Yaitanes says.

Kosas

As online shopping becomes an unavoidable norm in beauty, so with it a notoriously tricky detail: online shade matching. How does one digitize the art of swatching? "We’ve done a lot of troubleshooting here, from asking customers to DM selfies in natural light to creating ways for them to match based on other brands they might use," she continues. "Our sales team are really experts here in both our product and tone matching."

Amidst these shifts, Kosas launched its latest product — the Sun Show Moisturizing Baked Bronzer — on April 14. It'd be easy to guess that any new product, makeup or not, wouldn't currently perform as well as past launches; but for Sun Show, that guess would be wrong. "We actually sold out at Sephora and it was one of our best performing launches to date. We usually get to interact and meet with our customers and community face to face, so that was definitely different," says Yaitanes. "We went back and forth, but ultimately decided we wanted to bring some warmth to the world with The Sun Show." (And before anyone can ask, yes, all three Sun Show bronzer shades are currently in stock at Sephora, as well as on Kosas' own website.)

In the end, the same concept that powers Kosas — easy-to-use, straightforward, and skin-friendly makeup — is becoming the industry's raison d'être now more than ever, altering previously "unattainable" beauty norms. "When you buy all of those products and don’t actually use them — because who has time to do that every day — it’s a reminder that you didn’t take care of yourself. I think it's the responsibility of beauty brands to create products that are simpler to use and to be honest that you don’t need to layer 10 different things," explains Yaitanes. "Putting on makeup can be something that is good for your skin and can take less than five minutes if you need it to."

We are shining a spotlight on some of the millions of small businesses now challenged by COVID-19. This is part of an ongoing commitment our parent company, Bustle Digital Group, is making to support small businesses throughout the entire month of May. Tell us about your favorite small business on social media using #SmallBusinessSalutes.