Case Studies

This Brand Turned Skincare Into a Fashion Statement

By
The Desiree Team
March 14, 2024
starface
What began as a playful take on acne treatment has evolved into a company on track to achieve $90 million in annual revenue in 2024, defying initial expectations and transforming the skincare market in the process.

From Quirky Beginnings to a $90 Million Success Story

In the summer of 2019, the beauty industry witnessed the launch of a brand that would soon become synonymous with both innovation and disruption: Starface. Co-founded by Julie Schott and Brian Bordainick, this direct-to-consumer (D.T.C.) brand introduced itself with a product that was as unconventional as it was simple: cute, star-shaped zit stickers. What began as a playful take on acne treatment has evolved into a company on track to achieve $90 million in annual revenue in 2024, defying initial expectations and transforming the skincare market in the process.

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Starface distinguished itself by tapping into a market that was, until its arrival, largely overlooked or treated with a one-dimensional approach: acne. Rather than concealing, Starface encouraged celebrating and treating skin concerns with joy—a stark contrast to the existing narrative around acne as something to hide. This positioning resonated deeply with a generation that values authenticity, self-care, and a playful approach to beauty.

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A Strategic Leap into Retail Giant Territories

From the outset, Schott and Bordainick made a bold decision to partner with big-box retailers such as Target and CVS. This move not only provided instant scale but also marked a significant departure from the prevailing D.T.C. orthodoxy that dominated the startup landscape. By choosing accessibility and ubiquity over exclusivity, Starface democratised skincare in a way that was both innovative and inclusive.

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Cultivating a Brand with Social Currency

The genius of Starface lies not just in its products but in its mastery of branding in the digital age. By leveraging social media platforms and tapping into the cultural zeitgeist, Starface has become more than just a skincare brand; it's a form of social currency among its target demographic. The brand's vibrant aesthetic and engagement with its community have fostered a sense of belonging and identity among users, further solidifying its position in the market.

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Addressing "Ugly Problems" with Bold Solutions

Starface's success story is part of a broader narrative that encompasses the founders' approach to business. Schott and Bordainick have consistently demonstrated a willingness to tackle taboo or "ugly problems" with innovative solutions. From acne treatment to emergency contraception and even tackling drug overdose prevention, their portfolio of brands reflects a commitment to addressing real-world issues with creativity and courage.

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Brand Building in the Era of Authenticity

What sets Starface apart in a crowded market is its unique brand-building approach. In an era where consumers crave authenticity and connection, Starface has managed to create a brand that speaks directly to its audience's values and experiences. By focusing on entertainment, community, and inclusivity, Starface has not only dominated the pimple patch category but also set a new standard for what it means to build a brand in the digital age.

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The Future of Beauty: Multigenerational Relevance

The recent collaboration between Starface and Glossier, another powerhouse in the beauty industry, underscores the potential for brands to achieve multigenerational appeal. By bridging the gap between Millennials and Gen Z, these brands demonstrate that it's possible to resonate across age groups by focusing on core values, community, and authentic engagement.

As Starface continues to grow and expand its reach, it serves as a case study in how brands can thrive by embracing unconventional approaches, engaging deeply with their communities, and boldly addressing the needs and desires of a new generation. In doing so, Starface isn't just changing the conversation around skincare; it's redefining what it means to be a successful brand in the 21st century.

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