How Allison McNamara went from TV to beauty

For Mara founder Allison McNamara, slow and steady wins face.

McNamara leveraged her beauty expertise from her time as a show host with PopSugar to found the skincare brand, which launched in 2018. A pioneer of “blue” beauty, or marine-based formulas, the line is based on a proprietary blend of seaweed harvested in France and Ireland, and has slowly gained a global retail presence ⁠— and devotees of celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and Hailey Bieber ⁠— since its founding.

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Currently, Mara is available in nearly 200 ports around the world; key markets include Australia and the UK and domestic in California, New York and Florida. The brand expanded into Goop this month, using vibrant marketing collaborations like its branded coffee cart to increase awareness and sales.

McNamara declined to comment on sales, but industry sources estimate the brand will hit $ 10 million in 2022. Here, the founder talks about her approach to distribution and why she’s looking beyond the digital realm to raise awareness. of the brand.

What was your first job and what did you learn?

Allison McNamara: My first real job I got paid for was in high school and I worked for a shop called Girl Mania. It was like a Limited Too, where you could go in and shop, but had birthday parties. I curled girls’ hair and put on makeup. It was so much fun because I got my hands on beauty and fashion and it taught me a lot of responsibilities.

What was the momentum to start Mara?

I have hosted my show for about a decade and, after years of being in front of the camera and interviewing hairdressers, makeup artists and stylists, I have always had the desire to create my own line. Unfortunately, in 2015, my show was canceled. I took a look at what I really love to do and knew I didn’t want to create YouTube videos forever.

Beauty had always been at the forefront of everything I loved doing, even my first job. At first I really took it as a secondary hustle and bustle, consulting for websites and companies.

.  - Credit: Courtesy of Credo

. – Credit: Courtesy of Credo

Courtesy of Credo

The brand was launched directly to the consumer in 2018 and you recently joined Goop. What is your distribution strategy and how has it evolved?

The plan was always to go into retail. It was 2018 and the clean beauty space was still new and super lively. As a journalist, I love things that have definitions, so even though we never use the word “clean beauty” in our lingo, I wanted to launch with a retail partner who has very strong ingredient standards that live up to mine. and I really let them tell that part of the story for us. So, Credo Beauty was our first retail partner.

Furthermore, I have always felt strongly about international distribution. We have chosen Cult Beauty as our second retail partner. We always have space partners. With retail, you are so excited and see brands expanding and you want to be everywhere all at once. As a growing brand, it’s important to have a much smaller reseller pool that is very deep, meaning you’re a top selling brand with top selling skus and are really giving them the support to do well.

You rarely describe the brand as “clean”. What is your philosophy on ingredients?

For everything I do, whether it’s the food I’m consuming or things I put on my face or body, even the things in my house, I want to look for ingredients that won’t harm me in the long run.

For Mara, we put this 360-degree approach starting from raw materials, what’s inside the formula, where we get those materials from, and then how we ship our products and carbon emissions, how we produce products and pay everyone. fair trade.

Since we launched in 2018 and launched one product at a time and I own all my formulas, I know all up to which raw material suppliers they supply which percentages of ingredients. Our glass bottles are recycled and recyclable and we use minimal plastic. We are plastic neutral certified, but that doesn’t say enough, because plastic is less than 2% of the packaging of our products.

At such an early stage of growth, what worked best to increase Mara’s brand awareness?

Chrissy Teigen shared our products in 2020 and Hailey Bieber shared our other products in 2021 and we’ve had this amazing wave of new customers. To keep our numbers high every year, we focus enormously on the d-to-c force and haven’t spent much on digital marketing.

I want to get into physical advertising and billboards, to increase brand recognition. Last year, we teamed up with Erewhon for a smoothie, and TikTok is the wild, the wild west. You will continue to see more digital marketing and more traditional, linear marketing.

What opportunities are you focusing on next year?

Our next release, which is our lip balm, is the lowest price and our lowest entry-level product to date. TikTok will be a truly exciting opportunity to have it in multiple hands, especially in Gen Z space.

I really love new formats and try to reinvent new ways of something that has been around for years. Our SPF oil is a great example of this. We’ve run out of that product so many times. Our Cleansing Oil is our best-selling product and, by dollar amount, it is our universal face oil, but it is closely related to our SPF serum.

We had a pop-up coffee last February with Moringa lattes in collaboration with Credo and had a beautiful coffee stand. It was fun to see all the people that came, but since we’re a Los Angeles-based brand, I’d love to try these opportunities outside of Los Angeles. We are focusing on running small influencer events in Chicago and Boston and bringing this to other parts of the country.

For more information from, see:

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