Online Exclusives

Rock Beauty London Takes Center Stage

By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor | March 17, 2014

Fashion-inspired beauty brand sees international expansion and launches digital hub.

Creating an innovative concept over six years ago while backstage at Paris Fashion Week, celebrity manicurist Zoe Pocock discovered a gap in the market for consumers to re-create editorial beauty looks at home. This became the driving force behind the Rock Beauty London brand, now sold in the US at stores such as Walmart and Urban Outfitters. 
According to the company, Rock Beauty London’s mission is to design on trend cosmetics with makeup artist results at home. It recently rolled out a unique, branded YouTube channel featuring exclusive video tutorials from Pocock, its owner and director of innovation who developed this online resource as a one-stop shop for customers to learn how to use the products and also get inspired.
Pocock took time to talk with about what’s new at her emerging beauty brand.
Happi:How did you start your company and what makes it different from others in the market?
ZP: I started Nail Rock London with two business partners in 2010 with no finance apart from what the three of us were able to muster from our personal salaries which, at the time, was not very much at all.
We had one idea, one product and one vision. For fashion shows, and as professional nail technicians, we were exposed to the latest products and tools available on the market to create original catwalk nail designs. One product in particular, nail wraps, presented us with a tremendous opportunity. Our idea was to take this product and improve on it in order to offer professional results to the public who needn’t then spend lots of money in a salon to get designer nails. This is when I came up with the concept that was to become our company motto: “bringing the catwalk to the couch.” Back then, nail art was not as trendy or popular as it is now and one was restricted to what one could achieve with nail polish, lots of time and artistic skills. 
Professional nail wrap products were applied using bulky and expensive heat lamps usually privy to salons, which completely detracted from our aim to create an affordable, easy to apply, handbag-friendly product. We set about developing a hassle-free product that did not require any additional equipment and gave almost instant professional results. At the time such a product simply didn’t exist so we developed it from scratch and, in doing so, created a completely new category while initiating a new retail segment.
Happi:Tell us about your distribution…how did you get into stores and who is your target customer?
ZP: With nothing but samples (applied on my toes), handmade packaging, a presentation and lots of determination we set up our very first retailer meeting with none other than Topshop UK. The buyers loved the concept, the product and the packaging and placed a first order for 3,000 units, leaving us astonished. We needed funds in order to pay our supplier to produce the products and packaging.
Armed with our first firm purchase order, we set up a meeting with the bank and got them to agree to do some invoice discounting (basically they “bought” the order from us against a percentage). Within a few weeks, we received more and more orders and had retailers actually approaching us, clamoring to get our products. With nail wraps and packaging delivered to us separately, the three of us manually packed every single product. We worked through the early hours, setting off in the early hours with boxes in the back of my car to make the 15 minute prescribed delivery time-slots to the distribution centers to some of the most major retailers in the UK. As the products and brand notoriety grew, the range expanded into new categories and the distribution diversified geographically and structurally.
At the same time, our customer profile expanded too. Initially, Rock customers were fashion conscious women wanting stylish accessories that matched with the current trends yet at an affordable price. With new trends emerging frequently, consumer’s preferences change rapidly so the range needed to keep up in order to retain customer loyalty. Designer collaborations such as Giles Deacon and Sophia Webster along with Fashion Week partnerships also helped firmly anchor the brand in the fashion arena.
Nowadays, most women can find something to suit their style in our range. We strive to ensure we keep up with the current trends while also creating a collection with mass appeal.
Happi:What are your recent launches and what are their key ingredients/features?
ZP: Our latest product launches are a colorful and extensive range of texture manicures including glitter, sequin, appliques and nail foil kits.
We have also launched one of our ROCKITS kits in White Hot and, in a first for Rock, pre-glued stick on nails with a funky Christmas Jumper print with plans to release a full range in 2014
We are also an official partner of Sydney Mardi Gras (Australia) and will be launching a very exciting, Carnival themed range of products on 2014 as well as have a presence in Sydney in March.
Happi: What are your future plans for the company?
ZP: We are undergoing something of a reboot right now. The huge growth over the last three years has been accompanied by an equally huge learning curve. As the implications of working with massive retailers have become clear over the past few months and now that I feel we have the systems in place to make the relationships work for us, I am taking the opportunity now to have a real objective look at myself and my company.
I’m taking time to refocus the brand and product range and concentrate on getting back to the reason I started the company in the first place. These are only small tweaks but for me it’s really important not to lose contact with my products and my customers by being hands on with every single product, which bears my brand’s name.