After selling Studio BeautyMix in 2010, Coe-Hutshing teamed up with business partner Nicole Ostoya to create Gold Grenade, the SoCal-based agency that dreamed up the nail polish line The New Black and managed to make breath sprays chic with Kissing Elixirs. This year, the duo stepped into the celebrity realm by creating Boldface, their licensing company that helped create the Kardashian's Khroma Beauty collection. Whether she's redefining retail experiences or dreaming up the next primping must-have, Coe-Hutshing has a track record for being a step ahead of the trends. Here, she shares why she stepped away from a legal career to work in beauty, the story behind The New Black, and the indie brands she's keeping an eye on.
How did you get your start in the industry?
"I was chosen to go through the executive training program at Bergdorf Goodman during what I thought was simply going to be a part-time job on a college break. During that time, I was able to experience a number of different positions at that venerable institution. That experience made me rethink my potential legal career. I had always been intrigued with beauty and fragrance, but I just never knew it was a profession that held so many options for until I further explored it. I thought I would have to save the creative part of my life for an avocation. What I found was a world where I could use many facets of my knowledge and creative expression and keep learning and growing all the time."
How did you go about creating your very first brand?
"I launched the first commercial brands with my sister Jennifer when we had our beauty store at Fred Segal. The brand was called e-nail. This was a nail art decal that came in a CD case with Warhol–esque glitter packaging. It was sold at 40 Nordstrom stores, Fred Segal, and hundreds of boutiques. If we released them again now, they would probably be huge! They were a bit ahead of the curve then, but they did well."
What was so different about that experience compared to all of your previous ones in the industry?
"We were so thrilled to get into Nordstrom, but we realized that they expected us to really support the brand in all of their stores. It was a Herculean effort for us as a tiny brand, but the stores and teams were great to us. My sister and I would literally work all week in our store at Fred Segal, then after work, we would drive to a Nordstrom somewhere within 150 miles and do customer events. This experience taught us to plan a bit better on future product launches."
What's the hardest part about launching your own brand?
"Staying the course. There are ups and downs in any brand, and while the highs can be incredible, sometimes there are things that just are not fun. Arduous deadlines, difficult decisions, feeling like David among Goliaths at times… Having a talented and great team can make those moments easier."
What's the most fun part?
"When you see your vision for a brand or product come to life, from a rough sketch, to a comp, to a live product, and it is not watered down, and works, and people like it… it is a feeling of elation. Walking down the street and smelling someone wearing a scent I have created makes me want to stop and hug them, but I refrain out of fear of possible pepper spray attack or arrest. Getting tagged in a magazine and positive blogs and tweets, are icing on the cake. Oh, and good sales are very nice as well."
Photo: Courtesy of Gold Grenade
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