Exclusive interview

LimeLight by Alcone: “This is where beauty is going”

LimeLight by Alcone: “This is where beauty is going”

Not long after news broke of the new beauty company’s partnership with L’Occitane International, Cosmetics Design dropped in on CEO Michele Gay to learn about that deal and about how LimeLight is reinventing cosmetics and personal care direct sales for the modern age.

LimeLight wasn’t looking for a global partner when Reinold Geiger, chairman and CEO of L'Occitane reached out. But as Michele Gay, co-CEO of LimeLight by Alcone, tells Cosmetics Design, the business deal was struck between like-minded individuals. And, she says, it can rightly be called “a partnership of shared resources.”

The deal, announced in mid-May, has L’Occitane International owning 40% of LimeLight by Alcone here in the States. And beyond that, the two companies are forming a global joint venture to expand the LimeLight direct sales model. That business will be owned 60% by L’Occitane International.

What women want

It’s famously been said that the plural of anecdote is not data. And it’s reliably been demonstrated that the plural of intuition is wisdom. Or as Gay would have it, “so many studies have been done to show what women already know.” Her business, or rather the business she heads up at LimeLight by Alcone, is premised on the knowledge that the recommendation of trusted friend, mentor, or ally will sell more product than any ecommerce app, any experiential retail model, any celebrity endorsement.

“Women,” Gay tells Cosmetics Design, “are turned off by the disingenuous nature of traditional marketing.” And they much prefer buying from someone in their community who “believes so strongly [as] to invest in the brand,” she says.

Trial and error

Authenticity is well-worn buzzword in beauty these days. But a brand that is genuine, personal, and honest is a real commodity.  Every new brand, even one with the legacy industry experience of Alcone behind it, has its glitches, and how those play out matters to consumers and to the success of the brand.

LimeLight, says Gay, “is honest with customers and Beauty Guides about product changes” and manufacturing mishaps. She shared an example with Cosmetics Design: when a batch of mascara came out of production with air bubbles, the company not only pulled them and reshipped properly filled product. LimeLight also explained the reason behind the recall and went ahead and offered the faulty tubes of mascara for sale—at a discount—under the name ‘nobody’s perfect mascara’.

“This is where beauty is going.”

Direct sales at LimeLight is “personalized from the start,” Gay tells Cosmetics Design. Every sale begins as a conversation to solve a problem, involves a how-to demonstration, and ensures follow-up customer service. The LimeLight model is one where the representatives—the Beauty Guides—own the brand’s big data and can put it to good use on the spot.

Many brands looking to compete in beauty today, believes Gay, need to “stop seeing strategy in sacristy.” They instead need “a more abundant mindset.”

As for LimeLight itself, the brand has plans. Gay and her team have an abundant mindset and have made plans not only to expand its direct sales model globally though the joint venture with L’Occitane International, but also to expand its product portfolio by “finding good vendors and bringing them in house,” like they did with the LimeLight Riki Skinny Mirror by Glamcor. Gay and her co-CEO Madison Mallardi hinted to Cosmetics Design that an equally compelling sun care product (now being made by a small family-run company) may well soon be part of the LimeLight portfolio.

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