If I were to summarize Jennifer Raphael’s career in the beauty industry is this: been there, done that.
The thirty-year industry veteran started at Orchard Beauty answering the phones and rose through the organization – taking on nearly every role in the process – eventually becoming CEO of Innovative Beauty Group when Orchard was acquired by the Albea Group.
The company acts as the innovation arm for larger retail chains and brands, creating turnkey products that can quickly go from concept to shelves.
With the beauty industry changing faster than ever thanks to social media like TikTok, companies like IBG beauty operate as the innovation arm for larger brands. And her vision is that every customer co
ncept has a sustainability component.
We also talked about the role our dad’s played in inspiring us to go into business and Jennifer’s thoughts on the example she’s setting for her kids.
Below are some highlights from our conversation – you can listen to the full audio on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts. And be sure to subscribe to our channel to get the latest episodes as soon as they drop.
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On the evolution of packaging in beauty
“So, I mean, for starters, packaging has been pressed to become increasingly eye-catching. And when we started out, it was in the Internet’s infancy. So, beauty products have really… they aren’t just sitting on the shelves anymore. We have to find them online as well, and so they have to be captivating. So a lot of brands, they really have to differentiate themselves so they don’t get lost with dozens of other things on the shelf, and also on your consumer’s phone and on the computer screens.”
On why sustainability is part of every pitch
“The first question anyone asks about new packaging is, “How sustainable is it?” And it’s a tough question, but that’s a really good thing. That really should be the first question customers are asking us. So, there’s environmental stewardship and material science that have advanced to the point where innovation must have sustainability as part of it. And there’re no excuses anymore. Most of our clients, I would say almost all of our clients have different mandates on when by 2025, by 2023, by 2024. So, we’re really on top of all of this.”
On the importance of promoting from within
“Promoting from within is something that’s really important to me. I mean, I wouldn’t be in this role if I hadn’t been promoted myself. But we really encourage our teammates to share what their goals are and their aspirations. And we really always believe it’s best to promote from within. There’s just so much culture. We’ve got such a great environment here and it’s so much easier to help people grow within our organization than to… We’ve had success hiring outside too. Sometimes there’re roles that you need to hire outside for. But we always look inside first.”
On what innovation means to her – and how they find it at IGB
“We have our heads in the trends all the time, and we’re always looking 1, 2, 5 years out. So, we were lucky enough to attend a lot of different trade shows, travel to different countries, and we’re in a lot of different labs and factories. And we’re always looking for products that blow us away, getting excited to find anything new to bring to our customers. But a lot of true innovation comes from intuition from our team of beauty lovers. And we’ve got an amazing, talented team that they’re beauty junkies, absolutely. So, a lot of the innovation just comes from what they would want, a product that they would need.”
On why innovation can be ordinary
“Sometimes innovation isn’t something completely out of the ordinary. It can be simple, minimal, and maybe undetectable. I know that we’re always thinking about the end user. Like, what do they want? What does that customer want? What’s the solution that we’re offering to help solve their problem? And that can be the shape of a product or it could even be how we’re solving an issue for a customer on where a factory would be based. If they need a product that’s not from one country and it’s from another country, partnering them up with a factory that we know that can provide them what they’re looking for.”
And on this segment of Kill, Keep, Change, we made Jennifer choose between Twizzlers, floss, and yep, the snuggie (if you remember that).