Sometimes you have to let go to grow. Toni Ko has established NYX Professional Makeup from a startup in 1999 to a favorite brand among A-list makeup artists and a fast-growing army of Facebook fans, all without a marketing budget.
Now, Ko is transitioning to the role of chief creative director, and to do so has hired Scott Friedman to serve as CEO of this Los Angeles-based operation, which is named for the Greek goddess of the night.
Under Ko’s direction, Nyx’s growth has been exponential. Although company officials are keeping actual sales figures close to the vest, they say the firm posted a 30% gain in 2009, a 50% increase last year and is on track to deliver another 50% gain in 2011.
Friedman has a history of growing small and medium-sized businesses into larger companies, all while preserving their culture, core values and entrepreneurial spirit, according to Ko and company. He most recently held the lead post at Allegro Mfg., a maker of cosmetics, organizers and electronics, which was sold to Conair in 2007.
NYX has teamed up with the Style Network on a co-branded makeup palette inspired by the network’s No. 1 series “Jerseylicious.”
Friedman’s past success includes bringing brands to big box stores such as Target and Walmart and, as such, his new employer has charged him with the goal of expanding Nyx’s distribution.
Currently, the brand is offered at major retailers, including Ulta, in 40 countries, more than 10,000 beauty supply stores in the US as well as at freestanding stores in Japan, Brazil and Switzerland.
Yet Nyx fans—like the 80,000-plus it currently has on Facebook—often tell the company they don’t live close enough to a retail location.
Professionals and novice color cosmetic users alike gravitate to Nyx because of its price point, and wide array of shades, according to Friedman and Tonie Shin, public relations director. It’s a mix that company officials see as unique.
“I don’t think we have a competitor,” Friedman said, noting that Nyx seems to take share from both sides of the beauty market—department store brands like MAC as well as mass market ranges because it has value and selection.
For example among its current best sellers are the Haute Jersey Leopard Couture kit ($25), an all-in-one set of four bronzers, two glosses, 24 eyeshadows and a blush, and the Slide on Pencil ($8), which provides the intense color of liquid liner with the ease of pencil, according to the company.
Among its newest products is a bronzer and blusher combo, which is offered in five shades and is priced at less $10. And more products are in the works for later this fall, including a chic eye range called Collection Noir.
For Friedman, Ko’s creativity has been the fuel behind Nyx’s impressive track record to date, and he sees it a major component that will drive the brand’s future success.
“My coming here will allow the designers and developers that created the company to continue that tremendous growth,” Friedman said, but not the “headaches.”
Friedman continued, “You can’t answer hundreds of emails and focus on creativity.”