Meet Erin Graybill: The beauty entrepreneur helping customers feel confident during the pandemic

Throughout 2020, many people saw a dramatic shift in their daily routines. Face-to-face interactions switched to video calls and, with much of the population working from home, commuting schedules and self-care activities may have changed or been abandoned. 

Erin Graybill, the founder of the beauty and skincare tool company Niré Beauty, made it her mission to help her customers to feel confident and a level of normality their daily lives. 

What is your career background?

I was originally from the American West Coast and moved to the UK to study International Economics at university in Newcastle. 

When I first moved to the UK, I struggled to find makeup products that catered to my sensitive skin – the brushes and tools available here were either too abrasive and irritating or were prohibitively expensive. This was a gap in the market that I wanted to fill and I started to work on a range of high-quality and cruelty-free makeup brushes that were reasonably priced. From there, Niré Beauty was born!

We made the first brush bundle was designed with this in mind, containing all the tools any make up-wearer would need, including a variety of brushes, a foundation sponge and a cleaning tool. The set also includes an intuitive starter guide for beginners, to know exactly how to these tools most effectively. 

What is Niré Beauty?

Niré Beauty is an award make-up and skincare tool company with vegan, cruelty-free and beautifully designed sets to help even beginners get stuck in. I launched the brand in 2015 and since then we have gone from strength to strength, selling millions of brushes worldwide. 

Given why I started the brand, customer experience and empowerment is at the heart of everything we do at Niré. We actively welcome customer feedback and improve our service and product range based on reviews. Amazon has been an important tool for this and we are always engaged with customer questions. 

To further this, we have built a strong online community on social media, where we repost customer make-up looks that have been created using Niré tools. This is our way of recognising and empowering our customers.

Our customer-centric ideology has remained throughout the pandemic and I believe this has been imperative to our business’s growth during this time. Customers are still buying our products, despite spending less time outdoors and meeting in person. 

What have been the highlights of your business journey?

Since we opened our doors in 2015, we have hit many significant milestones that we are particularly proud of. 

We have become a multi-award-winning brand, having won a Global makeup Award for outstanding design, two Editor’s Choice Awards at the Beauty Shortlist Awards, and received nominations for the Exporting Small Business of the Year at the Amazon Small Business Awards. It is incredible to see people loving the products that we have worked hard to develop, especially when industry experts opt to use them in makeup masterclasses!

Seeing our products sell globally is also a huge highlight for us, thanks to our online distribution, particularly on Amazon, we have been able to sell millions of our brushes worldwide! 

How has the pandemic affected your business?

Despite people staying in more and less in-person interactions since the start of the pandemic, we have still managed to continue growing. I suspect this is due to the increase in face-to-face video conferences. Because of this, the public is spending more time looking at themselves and I believe this has been important to the beauty industry. 

There are three key reasons why I think the pandemic has led to a boom in the beauty and wellbeing industry.

1) Confidence

While it is not necessary, makeup can help people to feel confident as they go about their day-to-day and we want to promote this as a healthy part of a daily routine. We are spending more time than ever looking at ourselves on video calls and people shouldn’t feel guilty about or silly for wanting to put on makeup, even though they don’t have anywhere to go.

It’s completely normal and healthy to want to boost your confidence and keep some form of daily routine through wearing makeup. We love reminding people of that and hearing from our customers how much doing their makeup helps them to feel like themselves again.

2) Routine

With the government advising people to work from home, the public has shifted their daily routine, eliminating the commute to the office for many people.

Humans are creatures of habit and, for me, even when I’m not leaving the house, my routine is to complete my skincare regime and put on some makeup so that I feel ready for the day. Beauty products help to establish some level of normality in our customer’s lives.

3) Self-care

The public now has different requirements from beauty businesses and we have expanded our offerings to meet our customers’ needs. Well-being and self-care are more important than ever and we have adapted our offering to develop exciting new pandemic-appropriate products.

This includes our gift hamper that includes wellness products and can be gifted to show people that you are thinking of them, even if you can’t be there in person.

How has Niré continued to grow during the pandemic?

COVID has forced many businesses to evaluate their core operations and at Niré we have also had to adapt several processes to sustain growth. 

Being an e-commerce business has been hugely beneficial for us. Our online sales meant that we were in the right place to weather the storm of 2020. In particular, selling on Amazon helped our business to remain open during the height of the pandemic. Their distribution network was operational and efficient, meaning we were able to fulfil customer orders promptly.

We were also one of the many companies that adopted video conferencing to host virtual team meetings and Erin says it helped the business become more efficient. Working from home meant we lost casual office interactions and we have had to implement more regular online meetings. As a result, our processes became more structured and organised. 

These meetings were also important for the wellbeing of the team. It was a way for us to check in with each other and I could make sure everyone was happy and doing well. We also hosted various challenges to keep up the team morale and not limit our conversations to purely business.

It is strange to say, but COVID has been a strategic blessing for our business. We have adapted well and our revenue is up from last year. There are aspects of how we run the business now due to the restrictions that we will take forward when things can open up again.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

For anyone with an idea who wants to start a business, I would say perfection is the enemy of done. There will always be a small detail that you want to perfect or change, and the best thing to do is get started and iron out any kinks as your business grows.

Get a prototype as soon as possible and just start asking people. Ask people that are comfortable telling you what they really think so you can identify any issues as early as possible. You can say it a different way but even if you think what you are doing is perfect, find a way to validate it. 

You should also establish a mission statement and stick to it. Our core focus of being customer-centric has remained consistent and as the industry landscape changes, we have shifted some processes to ensure our customers’ current needs are met. 

Beauty needs have transitioned from party looks to a more natural style for video calls and there is an increased focus on skincare. Our customers are looking to us for self-care solutions and we have adapted our products and social media content to meet this demand, through educational and informative posts. 

The customer is your boss. It is so important to remember that if you want to be successful in business.