A newly-launched beauty company founded by two young Manchester entrepreneurs is now being sold to a US retail giant.
Entering the $390 billion beauty industry is never easy, but for Jenna Meek and Jess Hunt – who founded independent label REFY in Ancoats last year with no external investment – their products spoke for themselves and within only six weeks of launching, they’d grabbed the attention of one of world’s leading beauty retailers, Sephora.
And now, the brand’s first product range – a three-stage brow collection – has launched online and in 320 Sephora stores across the US and Canada this month.
This makes REFY the first Manchester-based business to achieve this feat.
Entrepreneur Jenna and beauty influencer Jess – who met on a photoshoot – saw a gap in the market for fool-proof makeup products that “enhance rather than hide natural beauty”, with no makeup artistry skills required, and it all started when Jenna noticed Jess’ extensive eyebrow routine.
“It was something ridiculous, like five different eyebrow gels, multiple brushes, and then a pomade and a pencil to do my brows every single day,” Jess said.
Jess’ loyal Instagram followers constantly asked what products she used on her brows, and so creating a streamlined brow collection made sense for the pair. They decided to bring together their skills in business and marketing to join a new wave of independent beauty brands who owe their success largely to social media thanks to highly-engaged cult followings.
REFY’s three-stage brow collection puts “simplicity at the forefront” and is designed to leave you feeling “confident and empowered” as it can be used to achieve a natural look or more exaggerated, fuller brows.
Within two months of the self-funded business’ launch at what was a turbulent time for many brands in November 2020, REFY was approached by senior buyers at Sephora.
The buyers had bought the products themselves, and were “seriously impressed”.
Jennifer Cohen – VP Makeup Merchandising at Sephora – said: “Sephora is thrilled to partner with REFY and continue bringing our clients innovative products that meet all their beauty needs.
“REFY delivers bold, powerful formulas that help promote and celebrate confidence [and] we are so excited to introduce this brand to our clients and know that it will be a wonderful addition to our assortment.”
Jenna Meek commented: “Sephora is the biggest beauty destination in the world for premium cosmetics and was the number one retailer Jess and I wanted to partner with in the US when we launched the business [as] its unconventional approach to keeping pace with the latest brands and trends makes them the most loved beauty community in the world.
“We’re super excited to bring REFY to a new audience in the US, encouraging more people to embrace their natural beauty and feel confident enough to celebrate themselves with uncomplicated, versatile products.”
When REFY first came onto the scene offering a simple way to achieve the ‘no makeup makeup’ look, consumers responded by buying over 100,000 units in the first six weeks – ensuring an entire stock sell-out on more than one occasion.
The brand also quickly captured the attention of mega-influencers such as Molly-Mae Hague, and Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson and Leigh-Anne Pinnock – who are now all loyal fans of the brand.
It’s only looking up for this Manchester business success story.
Featured Image – REFY