By Natalie Walters The Dallas Morning News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Jamie O'Banion grew up working in a beauty lab alongside her physician and biochemist father, Dr. Terry James. The duo teamed up in 2011 to launch "BeautyBio" a clean beauty company, which started with a retinol product to target wrinkles.
Jamie O’Banion’s Dallas-based skincare company BeautyBio is -- “knock on wood” -- on track for a 70% increase in sales in the first half of this year, even though pandemic-related store closures are blemishing other beauty brands.
The model-turned-CEO, identified by Forbes in 2017 as one of four female entrepreneurs to watch, grew up working in a beauty lab alongside her physician and biochemist father, Dr. Terry James. The duo teamed up in 2011 to launch a clean beauty company, which started with a retinol product to target wrinkles.
It now has 40 employees in its Dallas office and 35 across the country. BeautyBio products are sold in prestigious retailers, including Sephora, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Harrods. She declined to disclose annual revenue but it’s been reported the company closed 2019 with $110 million in sales.
O’Banion is one of the featured speakers Tuesday at Dallas Startup Week, where she will share her pillars for success. The free virtual Women of Innovation event is at 10:30 a.m.
While launching a company was a risk, O’Banion said her talk with reflect that she’s always been risk-averse.
She’s found tremendous success on the Home Shopping Network and QVC, doing up to $8 million in sales in a 24-hour period. But if QVC said it wanted to order 50,000 units of a product, she said she was the one to hedge that figure to mitigate risk.
“I was always the safe skier while my sister was off in the trees and on the moguls,” she said.
COVID-19 boost BeautyBio has seen a 200% increase in digital sales in the past six months as people look for ways to shop from the safety of their homes. Before COVID-19, about 50% to 60% of its sales were digital but at some point this year when stores were closed, 100% of sales were online.
The lift is coming from people looking at themselves on Zoom for eight to 12 hours a day, where they think, “Hey, where did that spot come from?” she said. People are also not wearing makeup as much so they want to fix up what’s underneath and have more time to do so.
“Before, I didn’t look at myself the entire day and could have broccoli in my tooth and not know,” O’Banion said from her office in Uptown Dallas. Besides her antiwrinkle product, she has a popular microneedling tool that makes tiny holes on the skin to stimulate collagen production. The $199 product, which sold out on its first day in 2016 thanks to a feature on HSN, has seen a boost this year as people look to recreate spa treatments at home, she said. In-office microneedling treatments cost about $300 a session.
“People were once reticent to try new things like microneedling but now they’re like, “Ok, sandblast my face because no one is seeing me,’ " she said with a laugh.
24-hour HSN gig O’Banion, 39, has been a hit on HSN since the beginning when she was a two-person team, still modeling on the side while she built her brand. HSN spots are intense undertakings, requiring a two-hour, high-energy show every two hours for a 24-hour period. That means she is working on two-hour sleep chunks.
“It’s wild,” she said. “There’s a lot of adrenaline pumping through it.” That’s part of the reason she only does them three to four times a year, but the payoff is sales of between $6 million to $8 million in a 24-hour period.
While they see her just a few times a year, her HSN audience is loyal, even detecting she was pregnant in 2012 with her daughter Gracie before she had even told her mom the news, she said.
“HSN is neat because no one woke up with you on-air and expected to spend $200 with you,” she said.
Juggling act O’Banion has spent her life working, first with her dad in his lab and then as a model, which she said gave her the chance to ask top makeup artists why they like certain products. It also taught her how to build a brand and sell products, thanks to hyper-relative gigs like Mary Kay commercials.
“I’m typically behind the microscope trying to understand ingredients so I’m grateful for that time,” said O’Banion, voted as the most beautiful woman in Dallas in 2007.
O’Banion said she has been working 16 to 18 hour days for nearly the last decade to build her company. And her husband Melbourne, who just launched a digital insurance company Bestow, is in the same position.
She’s at the point where she sets a calendar event for when to spend time with her husband and kids each day. But she’s grateful for the added challenges.
“I loved the artistry and creativity of modeling but as far as stimulation, it didn’t do enough for me,” she said. “Launching this company allows me to solve problems, which I see as puzzles. It gives me a fire I didn’t get in modeling.” ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.