Beauty obsessed or not, REFY has been on everyone’s radar since 2020, when it launched Brow Sculpt – the ultimate celeb and fan-favorite that changed the game for content creator turned entrepreneur Jess Hunt.
Here, the REFY Founder gives the lowdown on her journey and shares what drives her to innovate, simplify, and adopt an inclusive mindset when it comes to beauty with Emirates Woman.
What inspired you to launch REFY?
I’ve always been interested in the beauty space, my grandma really introduced me to makeup as a young girl and taught me about different beauty products and how you could use makeup almost as a form of self-expression. As I moved through my career in modeling and as an influencer, I was exposed to a lot of different makeup brands and styles, and it was through this that I started to think about launching my own brand and creating products where I knew there was a gap in the market.
What was the process of taking your idea to first product?
It was fun and is a little bit of a crazy story actually. I met my business partner, our CEO Jenna Meek, on a shoot for another brand, and by this point I was doing my eyebrows myself for each shoot, as no one could achieve the look that suited me best. I was using three brushes and a number of different products to get the final result and she and I started chatting about the kind of product I’d love to see on the market to achieve my brow. We even drew out how this would look really crudely on WhatsApp and I still have the screenshot somewhere as this is the design which became our Brow Sculpt! Jenna already had a successful hair care brand, so over the next few months she worked with her suppliers and reached out to me to let me know she had a prototype and honestly the rest is history. We decided to go into business and launch REFY with Brow Sculpt and our three-stage brow process which sold out almost instantly when we launched. The inspiration really was to simplify beauty and people’s makeup bags. The beauty industry can be overwhelming and we really did feel there was space for a brand that allowed you to achieve your desired look without the need for loads of different products. We also wanted to celebrate and enhance natural beauty, helping people be their most confident selves, which has been woven into everything we do at REFY.
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What sets REFY apart from other makeup ranges?
What sets us apart is the innovation in each product, we won’t release something if we really don’t feel like it is an essential part of your routine. I also think aesthetically we offer a minimal approach visually and through our products which appeals to an audience that has been exposed to a noisy and crowded market for so long.
Why REFY – what does this name mean for you?
REFY was born out of a mission to redefine the beauty industry through simplifying beauty. We merged “redefine” with “simplify” and ended up with REFY. How do you balance the creative and commercial sides of the business, and do you feel more drawn to one than the other? I am more drawn to the creative side because of my background in social media and I work most closely with the creative team on campaigns and launches and bringing the creative vision to life. My business partner and I work closely with the product development team on new products which is also super fun. I’ve learnt a lot about the commercial side as we’ve grown thanks to the amazing team we have in place. I really love flexing my creative side but also drilling into the numbers and performance.
How has social media supported brand growth?
Massively! As we launched in the pandemic it was the main way we could communicate with our customers so it has always been a huge part of our brand and instrumental to our growth. I love how TikTok has become a big part of the mix as well, as each channel needs a different creative approach and it’s fun to change it up. Our aim is to continue developing innovative, world-first products like Brow Sculpt that are solution-based and high-performance. We do ship globally and a big focus for us is increasing our global presence as we grow.
The beauty market is broad — how do you stay relevant?
By listening to our customers! We really take their feedback on board and integrate this into everything we do. It helps us stay super relevant.
What’s your hero REFY product?
It’s too hard to choose. I feel so close to all the products as we work so hard developing them. I feel like for anyone new to the brand I’d say our new Lip Blushes or Tinted Lip Glosses are a must-have.
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What is most important to you when developing a new product?
The purpose of the product is the most important thing to me when developing. We always ask what does this simplify? How is this different from what is already on the market? How does this speak to our brand values? I think the best thing about working with the product team is that we’re all so aligned on what we want to achieve with each product so the process is actually easy but we’re also really strict on the samples we approve so it will often take over a year to bring it to life.
What have been the highlights of your career as a founder so far?
There have been so many. Seeing Bella Hadid using our Brow Sculpt on TikTok was one, our billboard in Times Square was also a huge highlight, and our most recent pop-up in London was absolutely amazing.
What have you learnt in the brand-building process and what advice would you give to those wanting to carve out their own pioneering career path?
I’ve learnt that it’s vital to be true to your brand and not waiver, as this is what resonates with the customer. It’s also essential to have a good product to back up the brand as that is what keeps the customer coming back. I’d say to anyone wanting to launch their own brand that they should stick to their vision and trust their instincts.
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