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Volition Beauty can make your beauty product fantasies a reality

TextAlex Peters

For anyone who has ever thought ‘What if…’

Have you ever had a great idea for a beauty product? Something that you can’t find anywhere on the market but that you know people would use and love. Enter Volition Beauty, an entirely crowd-sourced skincare brand that allows anyone to submit their beauty product ideas to be brought to life.

Since the advent of social media, consumers have been given the opportunity to be increasingly vocal and involved in the brand development process. When Emily Weiss founded Glossier, she asked her followers “What’s your dream face wash?” and launched with the resultant product, the brand’s Milk Jelly Cleanser. Meanwhile, brands such as Charlotte Tilbury and ColourPop have both asked fans via social media to help name products.

But Volition takes this to a whole new level. Founders Patricia Santos and Brandy Hoffman believe that consumers are brought in too late to the product development process. Driven by their community, they work with their innovators to give the people what they want. Open to everyone, once your product idea is accepted, the brand will work with you to further develop the concept which is then voted on by the Volition community. The ideas that get the most votes are then created by the brand with a clean, cruelty-free formula and sold at retailers like Sephora and Cult Beauty. Commission is shared. So far, Volition has brought to life innovative products including a Turmeric Brightening Polish, a Strawberry-C Brightening Serum, and a Snow Mushroom Water Serum.

Volition was born from Santos and Hoffman’s mutual frustrations with the beauty industry. While working at a different beauty company they found they had shared gripes around the “normal” product development process. “We both agreed that a boardroom of (typically white, male) executives shouldn’t make the call on what’s trendy or what consumers want. It was a lightbulb moment of, ‘Why don’t we have them tell us what they want?’” says Hoffman. “The consumer was being brought into the process far too late and deserved a more integral, vocal role.”

We spoke to the two founders to find out more about the unique process. 

What advantages are there to crowdsourcing your products?

Patricia Santos: Allowing the consumer to sit in the driver’s seat solved two big issues: a high rate of product failures and products without differentiation that end up all blending in together. By allowing women to submit their ideas and then having the community vote on what they want, it avoids both issues.

How are people compensated for their ideas?

Brandy Hoffman: Our innovators receive royalties on all units sold of their product. The products wouldn’t exist without them so it’s only fair to compensate them for their partnership with us. 

What makes a good idea?

Patricia Santos: We look for three main things when an idea is submitted: safety, feasibility, and differentiation. We have high standards for our formulas and a vow to clean beauty so ensuring the product is safe to use is one key factor. Secondly, we have to check for feasibility with our labs to ensure it’s an idea (or ingredient) they can execute properly. Lastly, and most importantly, the idea should have a point of difference from other products that are already available on the market. We don’t want to create yet another coffee scrub or watermelon mask, so we recommend doing some research beforehand to ensure your idea is truly innovative. 

If feasibility wasn’t a factor what is the dream beauty product you would create?

Patricia Santos: A more efficient mani and pedi. In the beginning of Volition, there was a great idea for an instant manicure where you stuck your hand in a machine and the colour printed on your nails. The manufacturing got close, but it never was good enough to produce. It kept printing on skin and looked messy. It was genius and I would use it every week.

Brandy Hoffman: A ‘five minute or less’ blow out. I am impatient with wavy and humidity-adverse hair.  It is a constant battle.

Why is being ‘clean’ so important to you?

Brandy Hoffman: Our mission revolves around our consumer, so we never take our community’s feedback lightly. They’ve evolved alongside the education and knowledge that’s grown within the skincare realm. As more information surfaced about toxic ingredients, they shared their want and importance for clean skincare. We heard them and tightened up our formulas so that we could fit their needs. Toxicity is our ‘north star’ as we define ‘clean’.

How would you like to see Volition evolve in the future?

Brandy Hoffman: We’re mainly seen as a skincare brand as of now, but we’re actually open to all beauty ideas (hair, make-up, body, tech). As we’re growing our community, we’d love to build out SKUs within each category and create more innovations across all sectors of beauty. We’re actually in the works of a cream eyeshadow that’s made with crepey lids in mind.

What do you see as the greatest problems facing the skincare industry at the moment?

Brandy Hoffman: One is that the beauty industry is a big contributor to climate change with the excess of packaging and non-recyclability of components. We are making efforts in the right direction of ensuring our packaging and components are recyclable and moving away from one-use products to cut down on waste. Another would be the lack of diversity within this industry. This is something that has progressed (especially recently) but we still have a long way to go in displaying true representation continually, and not just when it’s convenient or for likes. 

Where do you see the industry going in the next 50 years?

Patricia Santos: More and more brands are slowly integrating an element of personalisation or crowdsourcing into their processes and becoming privy that it’s just what makes sense. We foresee many more brands making that shift and becoming more focused on the consumer in their product development. 

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