Nils Johnson isn’t your typical beauty editor.For starters, he’s a guy.
But he founded Beautylish with two other men. It’s a beauty and makeup content site that has raised just over $2 million from investors like Ron Conway, Max Levchin, Steve Chen, Keith Rabois and Jeremy Stoppelman.
“As a guy people say, ‘What do you know about makeup?’ What you recognise is that nobody really ‘knows,'” Johnson says.
“All of it, beauty, is learned. It starts with aspiration and a look. People think, ‘I want to look like Kim Kardashian, teach me how to do a smokey eye.'”
Johnson began his career in New York. He worked for Bergdorff Goodman in its buying and merchandising department. Four years ago he moved to Silicon Valley to pursue a telecom startup. Since then he has angel invested in startups like Everlane, Minted and Warby Parker.
Beautylish launched in October 2010 and has grown to 1 million monthly unique visitors. It is a picture-heavy site that gives readers tricks and tips about beauty and makeup. Johnson’s team of 15 has pumped out tens of thousands of product reviews and how-to articles. Its social media following has been steadily growing too. It has nearly 500,000 Twitter followers. That’s almost as many as Sephora and nearly 10 times as many as Birchbox.
Content is a good way to build a trusted brand but e-commerce is the next, revenue-generating step for Beautylish. Today it is launching an online store so users can buy products and bring their desired looks to life.
Johnson says he won’t sell sample products like Birchbox. It’s too expensive. Instead, featured products will range from designer brands and limited exclusives to staple items that can be found in drug stores.
“We’re going for brands the community wants, not just the brands we can get,” he says. New brands will be onboarded every few weeks.
“In the beginning we focused on creating a great experience for users and getting quality right,” says Johnson. “Buying products is natural after that.”
Here’s what the new e-commerce arm looks like: