Two content creators took their social media influence, formulated a line of post-worthy beauty products, and now have themselves a multi-million dollar brand. Here’s why it worked.

Summer Fridays, The Lucrative Beauty Brand That’s All Over Instagram 

Apr 28, 2023

WRITTEN

Chances are, you’ve heard of the cult-favorite skincare and beauty brand, Summer Fridays. But do you know the origin story? We’re not betting women, but if we were, we’d guess that you probably do. Reason being, this best-selling skincare brand was founded by two social media influencers—Lauren Ireland and Marianna Hewitt. 

On Instagram alone, Ireland has 311K followers and Hewitt has a whopping 1.1M.
Translation? They both have a pretty large pool of potential customers—loyal stans who have known, liked, and trusted them for years.

The Back Story 

Ireland and Hewitt began their careers as influencers in 2012. This was right around the time that making a sustainable income through social media was gaining popularity. By 2014, they were both full-time content creators—making a living (or should we say, killing) from sharing their favorite products in fashion, skincare, and overall wellness. 

It wasn’t until 2016 that the original idea for their own product was first inspired—and that inspiration was drawn from three years of listening to countless product reviews by their inventory of a million-plus followers.

Hewitt later shared on The Today Show, “We had the data of where they [followers] are shopping, how much they are spending, what they are interested in and wondering where they can buy.”

They knew what type of product their online community needed and so they set forth to fulfill that exact need. 

With lots of data and little to no industry experience or contacts, they had to figure out how to navigate through all of the unknowns that come with trying to create a legitimate formula for a revolutionary skincare product.

Ha. Small feat, right? 

How did they do it? They went to the ole tried and true search engine, Google. 

This influencer duo started researching random labs they could cold call in hopes of finding someone who would support their vision and bring their initial product idea to life. 

Fast forward, the brand didn’t end up launching until 2018—and get this—they launched by releasing that one product. 

The Highly Acclaimed, Insta-Famous Jet Lag Mask 

Industry experts told them they were making a mistake. They said it wasn’t smart for a new brand (especially in the saturated and highly competitive industry of beauty and skincare) to launch with just one product. 

In fact, they were told numerous times that this one product wasn’t even bringing enough “WOW factor” to the industry for it to make waves on its own. It simply “wasn’t innovative enough.” 

Yet, the founders stood firm on their decision to launch with the one and only concept they initially dreamt of back in 2016: the Jet Lag Mask. 

Ireland shared on the Life with Marianna Podcast that, as a business owner, you have to trust your own intuition and if you feel strongly about something, see it through. No matter what anyone else has to say.

Our spin on it? If you have a product, service, or idea that you know will serve a group of people who are wanting to purchase, then get ready to say “hold my beer” and launch it. 

The First-Ever Influencer-Founded Skincare Brand at Sephora

Sephora “bet” on the founders and released Jet Lag Mask to U.S. stores in 2018. And man, was this a smart move on Sephora’s end—and, in our opinion, not much of a risky deal. 

These influencers had millions of followers—so even if their products ended up being a total wash, they were still going to drive lots of traffic to Sephora locations all over the country. It literally sent a mass following of beauty enthusiasts right to their storefront. Genius. 

All 5,000 units of Jet Lag Mask sold out in less than two weeks. 

Now, Summer Fridays has a beautiful, thriving collection of 14 skincare and beauty products. In total, they’ve sold nearly 4 million units in just 5 years. 

#1 Be a Consumer-First Brand 

The #1 reason why Summer Fridays has been such a success is because the founders listen to the needs of their customers and give them exactly what they want at every touch point. 

CASE IN POINT:

Another swoon-worthy product, the Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm, is currently sold every minute of every day. 

Yet, when they initially launched this product, they released it to the market presented in their minimalistic, on-brand aluminum casing. 

But as it turned out, aluminum packaging wasn’t the best choice for a lip product. Many consumers reported back that it was “so messy” and that they simply just did not like the packaging. 

This put the founders in a tough spot. At the time, all the items in their collection displayed this sleek, aluminum packaging that they truly loved. Personally, they didn’t want to branch away from their overall asethetic. But after such consistent community feedback, they knew they had to redesign. 

Once they embraced the feedback and welcomed a new look (with an easy-to-use applicator), the Lip Butter Balm quickly became a sell-out product—now offering six, irresistible shades (and counting)! 

Instead of doing what the industry proclaimed would work, or even doing what they wanted at time, they chose to always listen to their highly engaged customer base and deliver exactly what they were requesting.

When paying customers see a brand implement their requests, it not only increases their loyalty to the brand, but it also gives them the confidence to try other products and/or services without hesitation.


The takeaway: You scale by listening, so encourage customer feedback and implement changes when you start to hear a repeated narrative.


#2 Leverage The Online Space

You want to know how to get your physical product seen by the masses? Make it worth posting about, not just worth sharing about. 

What’s the difference? Hear us out—the term “post” is taking on a deeper meaning here. 

We all share about our favorite products at some point in time and that’s definitely important. As a brand, you want to create a product that is so legitimate that your customers choose to talk about it whenever they get the chance.

But you know what’s also important?
(We would say as equally important for certain target audiences)
Making your product worthwhile, your customers want to post about it.

It’s one thing to talk about how much you love a product but when you start to “post” about it just because—that’s when you have a brand awareness that is literally working for you on auto pilot. 

In this sense, “posting” is referring to taking Instagram-worthy pictures of a product or sharing videos applying said product. You get it.

The co-founders of Summer Fridays understood this and leveraged the crap out of it. As influencers, they knew if a product wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t going to be shown on Instagram. 

And that’s entirely why all Summer Fridays’ products are minimalistic, sleek, and branded in such a way that, before even releasing to the market, they knew would cause their audience to drool over and want to post about.

The founders effortlessly incorporate the products into their perfectly curated lifestyles—encouraging others to do the same.

If you head to the Summer Fridays’ Instagram (that has 621k followers all on its own), the account is always reposting its customers’ content—sharing tagged stories, reels, and images of fans using the products in their own everyday world. 


The takeaway: Create something Instagrammable. We know, what kind of world are we living in? Well we’ll tell you: we’re living in a physical world with an insane digital presence. So, learn to leverage it or risk the chance of getting left behind. 


Thanks for reading Part One of our WHAT’S IN THE WATER blog series. 

Now, go make some waves in your own marketing. 

WHAT’S IN THE WATER is a new blog series written by The Collective Source. We pick one of our favorite, most successful brands to research and take a deep dive in their marketing. That way, we can learn how to make waves in our own businesses. 

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