Two blogger-influencers, with nearly a million combined followers, launch an instant, cult-favorite, new beauty product. At a premium price. Beauty editors go nuts, which ripples through social media, Kim K. gives the ultimate seal of approval, and the thing sells out less than three weeks after debuting. By any measure, the product is a success… but is it news? Marianna Hewitt (Life With Me) and Lauren Gores (You & Lu), co-founders of Summer Fridays, certainly think so.
While many influencer created-lines or collaborations (see: trendy-hued eye palettes) never quite make it past the inner-circles of YouTube, Summer Fridays seems to be something different entirely. On March 8, following two years of ideating and formulating, Hewitt and Gores launched the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask exclusively with Sephora.
Encased in an Aesop-esque metal tube, the mask has flooded Instagram with over-the-top glowing reviews, to the point where it practically became de rigueur to post about the item—sometimes even before users slathered it on their face.
At first squeeze, the Jet Lag Mask feels a lot like a heavy moisturizer, but Hewitt insists that this is, indeed, a mask—pointing out the glow-getting results it offers in just 10 minutes. It seems plausible that this $48 skincare product is reserved only for those with an influencer lifestyle, like Hewitt and Gores, who spend more-than-typical amounts of time on planes. But customers clamoring for a blue tube of their own seem to agree with the simple copy on Summer Fridays’ site: “You don’t have to be a jetsetter to have that lag,” it reads.
Sure, Jet Lag Mask is hydrating and leaves behind a satisfying, minty fresh feeling, but it’s not an entirely revelatory item. Hewitt does deserve praise, however, for smartly marketing her first product with an elevated mass mentality.
Now that Hewitt has absorbed the success of her first skincare launch, the jetsetting influencer sits down with Observer to explain it all.
Why do you think the Jet Lag Mask was such an instant hit?
It’s not like a retinol or another product that you have to use for six weeks to see results. You can use it for the first time, take it off, and be like: ‘Oh my god. My skin looks different!’ I think that really encouraged people to share; we see a lot of people post before-and-after pictures.
Now that you’ve lived it, what does it takes to launch a successful brand?
First, the product has to be really good. A lot of the times, as a blogger and influencer, I open up these PR packages and I’ll be excited to try something and then I realize it’s not even good. It’s fine to have a lot of money to spend on marketing but at the end of the day, if the product’s not good, it’s not going to work. After that, it’s important to offer something different in the marketplace. So many people have posted about our blue tube that it has become recognizable and really stands out because it doesn’t look like everything else. We figured out a way to be Instagram-y but still unique.
How important do you think it is for a product to be worthy of posting on social media?
Brands now, especially new brands, should consider: ‘Is my packaging photogenic?’ They should take pictures on an iPhone to check and see. ‘Does this look good on an Instagram picture, yes or no?’ Then, go from there.
You don’t have a background in science. How did you go about formulating your first skincare product?
I definitely don’t know anything about being in a lab, but I am an educated consumer and a product junkie. As a blogger and an influencer, I get sent so many packages every single day. So I was able to see what was out there, what was getting sent to me, what I liked in a product and what I didn’t like.
For so many years, my followers and readers have asked me so many questions; they acted like a default focus group. When it came time to formulate, I knew exactly what they were looking for. But we knew that we wanted to create a ‘clean’ product. We wanted to go somewhere that really understood that and could educate us through the process, at the same time.
How did you make sure the ingredients were all ‘clean?’
We had a list of things we didn’t want to include and Lauren was pregnant when we were formulating so she couldn’t use any products that weren’t safe for both her and the baby. From there, we told the lab what we wanted to create and we made everything from scratch. I know a lot of labs will hand off a sample or the same batch formula to everyone, but we didn’t want to do that. That was really important to us—to make sure we weren’t creating something that already exists in the marketplace. We don’t test on animals, but we did test this on all of our friends and gathered feedback from them.
What’s the craziest testimonial from your customers?
People really feel that they can not live without this product once they have it. There have been reviews that I’ve seen on Sephora that say, ‘I’ve never heard of this brand before, I saw it on the homepage and bought it on a whim, I’m so happy that I bought it, it has literally changed my skin and I can not live without it.’
What’s the strangest way Jet Lag Mask is being used by your customers?
There is a lady who does celebrity microblading in Los Angeles, Audrey Glass. Since she has to be sanitary, she washes her hands so many times a day and her hands are always really dry. She has been using the mask as a hand cream and says it works better than anything she’s tried.
Did you feel any sort of pressure to start a brand, because of the changing landscape for influencers?
I used to be just a blogger or just a YouTuber, now it’s my job to be an influencer in general. I knew from partnering with brands that I could sell products and I knew that brands were hiring me to create content or to consult with them doing social. They were always picking my brain about something, and I started to realize that just because people worked at a big company didn’t necessarily mean they knew more than someone who is out in the field, like an influencer.
Were you concerned that launching Summer Fridays would affect your existing brand partnerships?
I still work with all of the brands that I’ve worked with and I haven’t had any issues thus far. If anything, a lot of brands are now reaching out and want to collaborate with us. And the response from other brands and brand founders has been so amazing and so supportive. Nancy [Twine, the founder of Briogeo] came to our New York event. She brought me books about being a female founder, starting a business and she said, ‘I wish someone gave me these books when I first started.’
How big is your team?
Honestly, right now Lauren and I are the only people at our company. We haven’t hired any employees yet. Of course, we have consultants and people that we outsource to help with our shipping and things like that. [Editor’s note: Summer Fridays also has a PR agency, and worked with CASE, a creative and branding agency, to realize their vision.] But in-house, it’s really the two of us, so we’re doing everything. We’re the people responding to people’s direct messages on Instagram and the people dealing with our lab and our retail partners.
Summer Friday’s Jet Lag Mask is available for sale exclusively through Sephora (though, at the moment of writing, the product has a wait-list). According to Hewitt confirmed the brand’s next product will drop this fall.