Developing a cruelty-free cosmetics company may not have been the dream with which they started, but Maynard triplets Erin, Mandy, and Missy have combined their individual talents to make fantasy a reality.
Storybook Cosmetics is an online business they created after Missy introduced her sisters to high-end makeup about 10 years ago. At first, Mandy and Erin were worried about her “obsession.” Missy would spend $80 on a single brush. The two were slowly swayed and that love of high-end product influenced their decisions when creating their own line. The self-proclaimed “nerds” drew inspiration from their interests and channeled them into those products.
Erin says she would often spend nights researching “how to start a cosmetics company” on the internet. But she didn’t get far. “Labs will not even talk to you if you’re an indie brand. You need hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Erin sent drawings to her manufacturer from a previous online business. She surprised Erin one day by producing a prototype of their Wizard Wand Makeup Brushes. When Erin posted the picture of them on her Instagram account, the post blew up—engagement was in the thousands in about five minutes. She quickly removed it and the sisters decided to post it on a Storybook Cosmetics account they had created but had not used yet. The account went from 9,000 to over 100,000 followers “in a matter of days.” They started pitching themselves to beauty magazines right away, and publications like InStyle, Allure, and Teen Vogue started writing about them. Their social media was inundated with questions and comments.
The women knew this was their chance. Erin started at the top of the list of cosmetics labs she’d previously contacted. “I said, ‘Yeah we’re the creators of the magic wand makeup brushes,’ and they were like, ‘Please hold.’ They signed us on that day.”
The brushes launched the brand, but there is a constant buzz around all of their products.
“Honestly, we have a really loyal, awesome following.” she says. “Everything since then has been almost as successful.” So successful that they are now a multi-million dollar company. All from a $500 prototype.
Initial orders of brushes were shipped out of their mother’s living room in Omaha. Friends and family filled the house for three weeks during the Christmas season to help box products. Erin says it’s great being based in Omaha because it’s cheaper than if everything was based out of L.A., especially with the help of their extensive support system—the triples are three of six sisters.
Roxane Cosgrove, a friend of their younger sister Erica, is not surprised by their success. The triplets’ interest in makeup was evident early on, as Cosgrove recalls going over to their house while she was in middle school. “The triplets lived in the basement and they would give us makeup tutorials.” She remembers looking up to them, and is quick to mention that their mom is also a “superstar.” “They were always really innovative: the whole family is,” she says. “They were always figuring something out and they were always hard workers.” Besides that, she adds, “the Maynards have always been nerds at heart.”
While having their support system around is key, the fact that Missy lives out west has its advantages. The triplets’ work is often based on popular movies or books, such as their Mean Girls Burn Book Palette, and it’s much easier for her to set up and get to meetings. And, according to Erin, she’s the right person to have in those meetings. “Missy is our mouthpiece, basically. She gets us all of our licensing,” she says, later adding, “She’s like the licensing whisperer.”
Each of the girls brings something unique to the table. Mandy is the graphic designer and artist, so she handles the creative side. Erin says she is good at “the boring stuff,” dealing with logistics and manufacturing. “It’s very bizarre, but we like to say when we combine we make one normal superhuman.”
While the business is currently only online, they are working on funding to branch into retail. A bigger investor can help them get to the next level. Erin says they have stores that are interested, but currently they can’t fill the orders. “That’s kind of the hurdle that we’re at right now in our growth,” she says, adding that it’s “obviously a good hurdle to have.”
To learn more, visit storybookcosmetics.com.
This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.