Founder, Layne Gray, was getting ready for an event that Friday evening. She doesn't wear a lot of make-up but mascara is a must, whether to a black-tie gala or out to the ski slope. Sure, each of those activities dictate different styles of mascara, but that, too, is a factor in why she created Gray Lane Beauty.
That Friday her favorite mascara wasn't providing a lot of coverage. She checked for the expiration date on the tube which, surprisingly, did not exist.
Later that evening Layne went to the Ladies Room and was aghast when looking in the mirror and seeing little dots of mascara under her eyes. She tried to rub the flakes away but some got into her eyes which started burning, turning the whites of her eyes red.
She figured there had to be a better way... so she looked up on the Ophthamology Society website as well as the FDA to find out how often we should be replacing our mascara. The answer is every two to four months. Layne wondered if there was a service like Dollar Shave Club for mascara. There was not. So, as an angel investor and serial entrepreneur, she decided to fill that void but it was going to have to be the best, most luxurious formulas with the most effective brushes for it to meet her high standards. Hence, GrayLane Beauty was born.
The first step was to find out what women liked in the mascara they currently use and what they did not like. So, Layne hosted numerous focus groups for women from the age of 16 to 60. Participants were asked to try various name brand mascaras blindly and then answer a variety of questions such as perceived purpose of each mascara, price of the mascara, etc. Armed with such first-hand data Layne moved forward to evaluate the top cosmetic chemistry labs around the world. Finding that most of the best mascara is developed by cosmetic chemists in Milan that became her focus. Layne set forth guidelines from what she learned in the focus groups including nine ingredients she banned from any formula such as parabens, any toxic ingredients, etc. Plus all the mascaras had to be cruelty-free and vegan.
She tested hundreds of mascaras and then set up additional focus groups to get objective feedback of her narrowed field. This next wave of focus groups included professional make-up artists, High School and college coeds, working moms, athletes, and more. Like in the previous studies the participants were asked to answer the questions of suggested price and purpose i.e. volume, lengthen, curl, etc. but this time the questions were specific to the mascaras being considered as GrayLane Beauty offerings. The results were astounding – each of the final mascaras were consistently rated in the luxury category that on average are priced $10 more than the price points she had determined.
While doing all the research and approval of the mascaras themselves Layne knew she wanted to helm a different kind of company, one that focuses on how mascara makes us feel rather than how it communicates to the outside world what we want them to see. Empowerment over glamour.
But how to choose which mascara to purchase from the selection of Volume, Curl, Lengthen, Extend and, now, Fruit Elixir? The team developed a fun quiz and from those answers recommend three mascaras in what is referred to as a Discovery Set. Three travel-size mascaras to try at home. The member picks their favorite and GrayLane Beauty sends a full-size of that mascara on a quarterly basis, or more often if preferred. No more questioning whether it’s time to change mascara. No more worries that bacteria will get into the tube and cause problems in the eye. And no more flaking or smudging. Just highest-quality mascara with precision brushes delivered on a timely basis.
The company is a Pending B Corp which means it considers all constituents when making decisions, constituents such as employees, customers, partners, vendors, the community and the environment. Layne also insisted that the company should give back to anti-bullying organizations so $1 of every full-size order is donated to charity.
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