In an exclusive interview with BoF, Lady Gaga reveals details of her new cosmetics line. Get the summary below or click here to read the full analysis for BoF Professionals.
NEW YORK, United States — Lady Gaga has sold millions of albums over the last decade and, as the lead in “A Star Is Born,” helped make that film a smash. Now, she’s taking on perhaps her toughest role yet: beauty entrepreneur.
In an exclusive interview, Lady Gaga gave BoF the world’s first look at her new cosmetics line, Haus Laboratories. The brand draws inspiration from Gaga’s early days as an aspiring singer in lower Manhattan, applying drugstore makeup to form what would become her signature look.
Starting in September, Haus will sell kits combining lip gloss, lip liner and all-over colour, preceded by a two-month marketing blitz that kicked off Tuesday with a video shot by Daniel Sannwald.
“Colour is completely transformative — it’s powerful, it’s beautiful, and it’s how I found my voice with makeup,” the singer said, though she hinted that a full collection is on the way.
The singer and actress has long positioned herself as the embodiment of authenticity and inclusivity, traits consumers have come to demand from new beauty brands, whether it’s launching with 40 shades of foundation or crowdsourcing ideas from Instagram. Haus Laboratories is set up to be the opposite of the filtered, Facetuned brand of “authenticity” spawned by the Instagram era.
Lady Gaga has immense ambitions for her brand, which marks her first independent business venture. Her end goal of building a global cosmetics empire is clear from her choice of retail partners: Haus Laboratories will be the first major beauty brand to launch exclusively on Amazon.
The e-commerce giant plans to launch Lady Gaga’s kits simultaneously in nine countries on three continents, including the US, France and Germany, where customers can take advantage of Amazon’s one-day and two-day shipping. Hundreds of millions of additional customers from Singapore to Brazil will be able to buy the brand through its global store.
The decision to go with Amazon, rather than specialty beauty retailers like Sephora or Ulta, is not without risks. Though cosmetics sales on the site are growing fast, it has yet to cement its status as a beauty destination, or prove it can launch a high-profile brand in the spaces. Many customers view Amazon as a place to stock up on cheap, generic makeup, not the celebrity branded “masstige” offerings of Haus.
Lady Gaga said the choice was a no-brainer — only Amazon would give her free rein to build her brand around the twin messages of self-acceptance and confidence that have defined her personae since the early 2000s.
No message of self-acceptance, no deal.
“There are companies that see me and what I stand for and the way that I view the world, and if it’s not perfectly in line with what they do ... they’ll be like, ‘Can you just change half of the equation?’” Lady Gaga said. “The answer is no. No deal. No message of self-acceptance, no deal. This [deal with Amazon] was so wonderful because this was like, ‘Let’s make a deal, let’s make a deal to change the world with their beauty.’”
Lady Gaga assembled a team of 15, ranging from beauty industry veterans to a former executive at Zynga, the mobile gaming company behind Farmville, to implement her vision. For what she terms her “start-up,” she has secured backing from Lightspeed Ventures, an investor in category disruptors like Goop and Stitchfix.
Ultimately, the success or failure of Haus has more to do with the conversation around the brand, rather than any individual product.
“Look, you might want to look like the DuPont twins. You might want to look like Erin or Kitty [who appear in her brand video]... Or you might want to, oh my gosh, look like you. And that’s the nut that I really want to crack,” Lady Gaga said. “I have a platform in the world. God gave me this voice for a reason, I don’t know why, I ask myself that question all the time, but I’m sure as hell not going to put out a beauty brand that is going to drive insecurity and fear into people. This is about liberation.”
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