Ulta Just Made It So Much Easier To Discover Indie Beauty Brands

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There are only so many 5-star reviews you can read before your eyes glaze over, or real estate on your arm to swatch what feels like your 500th nude lipstick. But with new products hitting shelves every single day, how is a beauty enthusiast supposed to know what lives up to the hype? Ulta has an idea.
The beauty retailer just announced its SPARKED program, a new initiative that will make it easier for consumers to learn about standout up-and-coming brands spanning the hair, skin-care, and makeup categories. "Helping build up brands is something Ulta Beauty has been doing since the very beginning," says Shelley Haus, Senior Vice President Brand Marketing at Ulta Beauty. "The introduction of SPARKED at Ulta Beauty is our way of taking our expertise in identifying beauty success stories to the next level."
Here's how the program works: A dedicated team at Ulta will select a number of brands to be entered into an acceleration program. In addition to mentorship and support from Ulta, these brands will also be highlighted on the SPARKED tab of Ulta's website, as well as in-store with a special display starting September 22. The brands will keep their standard in-store displays as well, potentially doubling their exposure to new customers..
The inaugural brands selected for the initiative include UOMA Beauty, Elcie, ZOEVA, and Love Wellness. UOMA Beauty hit Ulta shelves this past April with a unique foundation offering, and founder Sharon Chuter is thrilled about the opportunity. "This initiative is giving us a platform that we wouldn't normally have," Chuter tells R29. "I'm three months into the market, and I'm having my first major exposure through this program."
Chuter knows firsthand how difficult and expensive it can be for new beauty brands to break through in a saturated industry. "Exposure can be very costly," she says. "It's really amazing to have a platform like Ulta, and they're using their own investments for emerging brands. It really gives us a chance to show our brands the way that they should be shown."
New brands will be selected throughout the year to join the program, which gives emerging founders the chance to have their products showcased while also giving customers an opportunity to discover something they might not have otherwise considered. On top of highlighting innovative new launches, Ulta also wants to use the platform to tell meaningful brand stories. "What makes the brands in this collection so special are their founders, who all share a deep passion for beauty and saw an opportunity to evolve the industry," says Haus. "Their stories are empowering and share a message with our guests that goes beyond skin deep."
The next SPARKED selection will be announced in December, and then again in January — with more and more to follow. "We’re always listening to our guests and know they want access to new, exciting brands they can’t get anywhere else," adds Haus. "SPARKED at Ulta Beauty delivers on that expectation unlike ever before."
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