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02/15/16 07:10 PM
Talk about a make-or-break moment. Upon learning that QVC had finally
offered her a 10-minute spot on its airwaves following a tenuous,
two-year courtship, the cosmetics entrepreneur Jamie Kern Lima instantly
dissolved into an ecstatic heap of tears and prayer.
had founded IT Cosmetics out of her tiny Studio City, Calif. apartment
in 2008, after quitting her job as a local news anchor. Her Bye Bye
Undereye concealer -- developed alongside plastic surgeons and touting
anti-aging ingredients -- was a game-changer, she knew deep down,
although distribution prospects looked slim and marketing costs were
A relationship with QVC, however -- an acronym for ‘quality, value and convenience’ -- could tick both boxes in one fell swoop.
two years, Lima had mailed her products to QVC merchants for
consideration to no avail. But then one day, network executives stumbled
upon Bye Bye Undereye at an industry trade show in New York City.
Shortly thereafter, Lima found herself boarding a plane to West Chester,
Pa., where QVC headquarters are quietly nestled, arriving one week
ahead of her scheduled debut.
The stakes were
enormous. All told, 106 million American viewers tune in to QVC,
according to Doug Rose, SVP of marketing and programming. And the
platform’s vast reach as a retail channel is compounded by a unique
ability to weave scintillating visual backstories.
are shopping not so much because of a desire to buy something as they
are engaged in learning about what’s new, meeting interesting people and
hearing their stories,” he says. “We talk a lot about storytelling
being one of our superpowers as a retailer.”
And when host and
guest are firing on all cylinders, these superpowers can generate
megabucks. The record for the most products moved in one day is
currently held by the portable smartphone charging company Halo, with a
staggering 300,000 units sold.
in her dressing room before show time, Lima was sufficiently prepared,
but rattled nonetheless. Time seemed to be passing in a sudden whirl. In
hindsight, she remembers little other than her co-host, at one point,
guiding her trembling hand out of a close-up shot, whereupon a producer
in her ear coached her to “take deep breaths.” The next thing she knew,
everything had sold out.
Riding the wave of this invaluable exposure, IT
Cosmetics has grown at an exponential rate. After counting 5 employees
and posting revenues of $1 million in its first year, today Lima has
amassed a staff of 60 and annual earnings of more than $100 million.
even QVC execs marvel at the company’s rapid ascent, Lima attributes
her success to carefully-honed products and 20-hour workdays -- not to
mention a healthy dash of superstition. She has worn the exact same
earrings, bracelet and shoes during every one of her 700 appearances.
“There are some guests who have to have the same mic number every time,”
she laughs, “but I’m trying to downsize my issues.”
the years, Lima has also perfected certain routines that inspire
relatability -- and which also happen to inspire viewers to reach for
their wallets. Because she suffers from severe rosacea and lost her
eyebrows in her thirties, Lima has devised a demo in which she wipes off
her brows on-air and then pencils them back on with IT Cosmetics’ Brow
not just a sales thing,” she says. “By me taking off my makeup and
showing my rosacea or showing that I have no brows, I hope that women
feel better about their own issues, because everyone has them -- even if
they don’t buy anything.”
can gauge the net impact of such moments, says John Kealey, director of
TV production, because on-air sales are tracked in real-time, and
programming adjustments can be made in an instant. For example, if call
volumes spike, producers may choose to linger on a certain demo or angle
or anecdote, he says. Amid lagging feedback, they can quickly move on.
sets QVC apart from the traditional brick and mortar retail model.
“It’s the equivalent of being able to change your storefront windows
based on what the customer is telling you she wants as soon as she comes
in,” Kealey says.
A crowdsourced sensibility pervades the QVC
business model, adds Rose. Given sales figures, return rates and
constant commentary via social media -- all arriving in a “firehose of
feedback” -- the best entrepreneurs harness this information to hone
their messaging, improve their products and even create new ones.
in order to become a network star, Rose adds, entrepreneurs need not
have a finely-honed onscreen presence. In fact, the opposite is true.
“What matters more to us is authenticity and credibility and the passion
of knowing that you created it with your own hands.”
Lima already counted some newscasting experience prior to her arrival,
she tends not to rely on it. “The hosts are so talented and polished and
perfect, and they carry you,” she says. “But I feel like the
entrepreneurs that are the most successful here, when you see them in
the hallways, they’re exactly the same as they are on-air.”
she’s speaking, a fly lands on her shoulder and starts buzzing around
her face. “This happens all the time on the air by the way,” she says,
swatting it away. “You’re just like, ‘oh, crap!’”
So what does she
do when such make-or-break moments arise? Lima's response is telling:
“Smile really big, choose to acknowledge it or not and just keep
03/06/16 11:28 AM
03/26/17 05:31 AM
by Andy Dehnart 23 JUL. 2016 | 9:30 PM
Jamie Kern Lima, the founder of IT Cosmetics and the fourth-place contestant on season one of CBS’ Big Brother, just sold her company to L’Oréal for $1.2 billion.
IT Cosmetics, which Jamie founded in her apartment after quitting her job as a TV news anchor in 2008, and which had its genesis in her attempts to cover rosacea, now sells hundreds of skin care and cosmetics products. It took off after Jamie’s pitches convinced QVC to give it a 10-minute shot and now is a regular on the channel.
Women’s Wear Daily reported that the company is “on track to do $400 million in retail sales for 2016” and “had $182 million in net sales for 2015, a 56 percent year-over-year increase.”
L’Oréal Luxe USA’s president, Carol Hamilton, told WWD that “Jamie builds confidence in women in such a meaningful way…and it’s authentic,” and added “that she’s an absolute magical formulator. Her products have not only true performance, but they create an addiction with their consumers because they are just so great to use in a sensorial way and a performance way.”
In a message posted to the company’s Facebook page, Jamie wrote, in part,
“At IT Cosmetics, our mission is to make the world more beautiful through our products, through our actions, and through our belief that every woman is beautiful and deserves to feel her most beautiful. This partnership will allow us to utilize the amazingly strong infrastructure at L’Oreal to grow and spread the IT Cosmetics message in an even more powerful way and to get our life-changing products into the hands of even more real women across the globe! I will remain the CEO of IT Cosmetics, and I can assure you that the integrity and quality of our products, our commitment to being completely cruelty-free and our commitment to giving back in a big way will remain 100% intact and true to IT!”
Jamie, who’d previously competed in Miss USA and appeared on Baywatch after winning a competition, went on from Big Brother to earn an MBA from Columbia Business School in 2004.
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