The Illamafia

An Update from Illamasqua Founder: Julian Kynaston

Last August, I decided to write a personal letter to the fans of Illamasqua to share my thanks for the support the brand had experienced since launch. The response was, to be honest, quite humbling.

I had nearly 1000 replies where as I’d expected a couple of dozen. Far more overwhelming was the length and depth of many of those replies – ‘essays’ would be a better description! Most brands would die for such energy, commitment and feedback from their fans. To hear so many of you telling us how Illamasqua has in some way helped you through hard emotional times by giving you confidence to express your unique beauty is very special. We were delighted to hear so many of you say how our counter staff took the time to discover who you really are and develop a look for you – rather than dictate how ‘beautiful’ is supposed to look!

As I say we were all very, very humbled. I ended up blocking off three days to try and respond and, I believe, I replied to every letter. If any slipped through the net, please resend – as it was my pledge to mirror the time for you, which you had taken for us.

In this note, I’d like to give you a brief heads up on our next campaign, highlight some of our recent initiatives, and talk a bit about the exciting times we have to come.

Firstly, our next campaign which launches Thursday 31st January (although many of you will have started to see the fantastic blogger posts following last week’s previews!) Named I’mperfection, this campaign sees us push stronger than ever on our mission to break this industry’s corporate view that it can dictate beauty to consumers. Magazines filled with advertisements from the major beauty houses promoting a singular and homogenised vision of beauty– providing nothing to aspire to other than a loss of individuality.

In this campaign, we celebrate our view of real beauty – gaps in teeth, birthmarks, and masses of freckles – everything that would usually keep these particular models off the catwalk! True beauty, we believe, lies in the individuality of the imperfections that we all have. Unique. Interesting. You.

Look out for our new Lip Gloss in Shoot, which I’m predicting will be our next cult product – it’s a very bold shade of green. Once again, we find ourselves ahead of the curve with Pantone recently announcing the 2013 colour of the year to be green!

I hope you all love the collection as much as we do and can’t wait to hear your feedback. You can tweet me @JulianKynaston.

We have just come out of the Christmas frenzy in those countries that celebrate it! Our end of year performance in stores and counters is up an amazing 17%, which in these hard times is something we are proud of. Meanwhile our online sales are up a huge 43%.

The Middle East has gone crazy for Illamasqua at Bloomingdales and Harvey Nichols, whilst further afield, our strongest ever ‘new counter’ start came at our latest opening in Bangkok, which has continued to beat records daily.

In Australia, our price war has been a hard fought battle and one that we are committed to. We will not rest until every Australian make-up buyer recognises the opportunity for change we have laid at his or her feet. So far we have dropped our prices to match the rest of the world and end the ridiculous 60-100% premium that is charged to Australian consumers for no good reason! So far, our turnover has remained the same but we are getting 35% more make up into people’s hands, which, we know for us, is the key to recommendation.

In short, we’ve had an amazing year. We remain hell bent on preserving our values as we grow. I recently discovered that one of our overseas PR partners GAVE a celebrity our make up. She found it odd that we have never done this and, to this day, refuse to. We believe they earn enough money to buy it for themselves. More so, we believe our customers are way way too bright to be led into buying a product because a celebrity wears it. Linked to this – and as mentioned in my previous letter – we don’t and never have advertised our message in any major media. YOU made a decision to try Illamasqua product, stay loyal and recommend us on our quality and service alone. You are why we are a new brand for a new age of customer.

2013 has started fast. We have some HUGE (and I really mean that) plans, driven by a young lady that I would like to introduce to you all – our Managing Director, Nina Rahmatallah.

Nina joined the business as Managing Director last year but this wasn’t her first time working for Illamasqua. In fact, Nina was part of the team at the conception of the brand. After leaving us to work with some of the world’s largest brands, Nina has returned to head up the next stage of our growth.

The business plan Nina has authored with the Illamasqua board, now means we need to start some serious recruitment! In particular in North America, but we are also interested in talent from all over the world, including our home soil here in the UK.

I’d therefore like to openly invite any of you who have thought that you would love to work for Illamasqua one day to get in touch now. Nina’s assistant Nilmini (who was one of the people who replied to my last letter and now, six months later, works for us) will be collating and sorting all applications. If interested please contact her at nilmini.francis@illamasqua.com.

I also ask you to follow Nina on Twitter (@illamasquaMD) as she will be revealing more on what 2013 holds in due course, including improving our customer service as well as a new way of rewarding our most loyal customers (you) – something very important to us.

Finally, I’d like to share with you an idea, which is at its very inception but, with your support and interest, could come to life very soon. We know from your emails and feedback that many of you would love to come and experience SOMUA but unless you live near to London, the travel and accommodation costs can be prohibitive.

We’ve had an idea for some time now about taking SOMUA ‘on the road’ through appointing ambassadors. This would be a true first – a leading make-up brand taking professional level make-up courses across the UK. And not just to major towns and cities – we will go wherever there is the interest. As an ambassador, you would be responsible for recruiting attendees from your network of friends and helping us to source a venue. In return, we’d bring the SOMUA experience to you – wherever you are! We are still working out the details, but if you are interested in becoming a SOMUA ambassador, we’d love to hear from you. Again, please email Nilmini at nilmini.francis@illamasqua.com.

I’ve really enjoyed sharing all our latest news with you and hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. I look forward to hearing your reactions on the new collection!

Be sure to share your thoughts with Julian on this letter @JulianKynaston. 



Govinder Rayt

Govinder Rayt

Writer and expert