Small business week: The mystery of Mistura

Courtney Symons
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Mistura Beauty was founded in 2008 and started with a six-in-one beauty solution that Andi Marcus couldn't find anywhere else. It acts as a foundation, eyeshadow or lip shade in an easy-to-apply formula and at a lower price point than other high-end beauty products.

Mistura Beauty founder and president Andi Marcus.

She told OBJ how she got her small beauty line into huge Canadian pharmacies:

"We started in small stores, but the first retailer was Rexall. I managed to get a meeting with a manager at Rexall in February of 2010. Thankfully, she was aware of us because she’d seen us on TV on the premiere show of Dragons’ Den in September 2009.

At the time, (Rexall) wasn’t carrying anything remotely comparable to our product. They asked for exclusivity and said they’d give us a try. We made an agreement with them to go into 150 stores as a trial brand.

In order to stay with them, we had to have a 50 per cent sell-through rate. We rolled out the order in March, and by June we had an 85 per cent sell-through rate. They couldn’t keep us in stock.

We differentiated ourselves because I called every single store personally every couple of weeks to talk about the product and give them sales tips by phone across Canada. While I was on the phone, my husband and my sales manager (who is also my stepdaughter) were visiting the stores in person throughout Ontario.

That fall, they asked us to be a core brand. Now, we’re one of their most successful brands. We’re on five shelves in the prestige department.

Next, a representative from Lawtons Drugs was in Ontario and she saw the product. She called head office in Halifax and said, “We have to have this product.”

Within a week, we got a call from Lawtons. They didn’t even want to talk about it, they just said, “We want you in 55 stores, can you do that?”

A lot of our success is directly related to our Dragons’ Den pitch. Costco contacted us because they’d seen us on TV. Being on the show was an exciting venture. The negotiation with the shareholder that we ended up doing a deal with was excruciating to say the least. Months later when we still hadn’t closed, we decided not to go with the agreement. In the end, it was a good decision. We needed money, but the exposure was the most important."

Organizations: Rexall, Costco

Geographic location: Canada, Ontario, Halifax

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