The Cosmetics Makeover

//David Hirsch//

If you told me a few years ago that I’d invest in a cosmetics company, I’d probably say you were crazy. While my whole career has been spent around business development and monetization of different startups, I never considered cosmetics as a focus.

This all changed when I met Julie and Chelsa from Stowaway last spring. They opened my eyes to a massive opportunity in the cosmetics market. Most women carry around large bags of makeup as it’s just about impossible to buy quality makeup in small, portable sizes.

Similar to how the Warby Parker founders discovered that eyeglasses were expensive because one company controlled the entire market, Julie and Chelsa figured out that large conglomerates manufacture heavy, inconvenient, and overpriced cosmetics products due to the fact that it costs them the same amount of money to manufacture a small product as it does a big one, however the margin on the big products are much, much higher. Therefore there isn’t any value in creating smaller, more portable products.

The reason that this is so important is the shifting workforce. Nearly half of all business travelers today are women, a number that is significantly higher than even ten years ago. Today’s cosmetics sizes were created for a different time period. They have gone relatively unchanged in the last 50+ years.

This is all changing. The number of female business travelers will continue to grow, as will the segment of modern on-the-go women who go to the office, to the gym, and out afterwards. All of which will make large, bulk makeup sizes a thing of the past.

At the same time, theres a real lack of regulation and transparency around toxins in the cosmetic industry. The European Union bans over 1,300 ingredients (none of which are present in Stowaway products), while the United States bans only 11. Many of these ingredients banned in the EU contain or are suspected to contain carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxins. In fact, my friend John Whelan has a documentary called Stink! on the subject. Because Stowaway focuses on reasonable product sizes, they don’t have to use preservatives to extend shelf life and therefore all of their products are free of harsh chemicals and preservatives.

In September I wrote about “Warbification” and how it would continue to transform different industries and products. Stowaway has all of the ingredients to build a great company in this massive category. There’s consumer pain, they’re disrupting a legacy, broken business model, and the founders are the right team for the brand. In this category of “warbification”, the people behind the brand are as important as the CTO in other startups. Julie and Chelsa really are the perfect team behind the Stowaway brand.

It’s been hard keeping my mouth shut about it until now, but today we’re letting the horses out of the stable. To pre-order Stowaway product visit: