Flower Power, an approach of its own

For many, the name Drew Barrymore conjures up the image of a movie star, rather than beauty brand entrepreneur. But the woman has beauty cred: She served as a spokeswoman for Lancôme from 2004 to 2005, and she was involved in a seven year relationship with Procter & Gamble’s Cover Girl, where she was the face and a co-creative director on certain products. Indeed, the actress brings a sharp eye for color and a fresh enthusiasm to her Flower, the cosmetic company, which is sold exclusively in Walmart. Drew, who recently turned 39 and is soon to deliver her second child, co-owns the custom-formulated company with a design/manufacturing firm, Maesa Group. Created and positioned with the goal of bringing prestige offerings to mass marketers, Flower takes up four feet of aisle space in Walmart stores, next to the likes of Revlon, L’Oréal and Cover Girl.

“Our whole business model is about bringing prestige to mass, and getting these incredible formulas that are very high end and selling them for a totally different price,” she said in a press release. “We’re finding what’s really common and standard in prestige is not as common and standard in mass, like eye chubbies or liquid eyeliners with precision prestige tips or cream foundations, so we’ve added that to our collection.”

Additionally, the products were designed to work twice as hard. Kiss Me Twice, a collection of lip and cheek chubby items; Double Take, eye markers and crème eye shadows; and Eye 2 Eye, eye markers and mascaras, among others products.

Though the Barrymore name carries weight, for a company like Walmart the partnership was still a big risk.

“We were a new brand for them. It’s our company but we are not proprietary, though we are exclusive, and they’ve not carried products like ours before so there’s a lot of learning regarding what’s successful for them,” Drew shared. “And there’s a lot from our side saying; ‘please trust us on these things,’ which is scary because if it doesn’t work you’re the fool.”

Unlike other companies, Flower doesn’t have marketing and advertising dollars to spare, instead it’s put into the packaging and formulas, “Which was a unique business model for us,” she proudly admitted. “All those millions of dollars go into the customers hands, which is awesome. So we have to find new and inventive ways to show what that product is, which has challenged us. But sometimes with less money and a good idea, you have better innovation.”

That innovation was social media, which the company relies on heavily. And though Drew didn’t want to bring in her celebrity persona, “that was the antithesis of what I wanted to do,” she explained, the company relies on her accessibility and huge likeability factor.

“One of the things that’s resonating with the mass shopper, and it’s something they’re not used to, is associating the product with someone,” said Chris Miller, Co-President of Flower. “With prestige there’s a connection to someone like Tom Ford or Laura Mercier. There’s a person behind Flower and having Drew connected to the customer was a big thing for the Walmart consumer. I think that’s where we have a big leg up over the other mass brands.”

Having a fresh approach in an oversaturated arena was an opportunity for newness. “Revlon, L’Oréal and Maybelline have already nailed the market. You don’t need another company to do what they’ve already accomplished,” she said. “A lot of companies are doing high color and intensity, and that sells and is what consumers want. We’re new. We’ve not earned our right to be them. With Flower, I really like this clean, timelessness, traditional, true-to-life fantasy of what women are.”

She added that at the end of the day, the company is not about her, but rather the consumer. “Everything we do is a fight for women and empowerment,” she said. “This is what women deserve, and we’re putting it into their hands and finding a way to say that.”