‘I’m completely addicted’: The rise of beauty Clubhouse

‘I’m completely addicted’: The rise of beauty Clubhouse

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Clubhouse is no longer a haven just for tech bros, and the beauty community has flooded the app. 

The voice-based chat app now valued at $1 billion has attracted an active faction of members hailing from beauty. As the invite-only Clubhouse widens its user base and prepares to open to the public, some beauty brands and founders are starting to see the consumer opportunity as well.

“I’m completely addicted to Clubhouse,” said makeup artist Michela Wariebi, who runs multiple Clubhouse clubs, including The Beauty Club and Black Beauty Chat, with a beauty town hall on Sundays. “I’m on Clubhouse every single day. I definitely use it more than any other social media platform.” She estimates her time on the app to be at least five hours a day — “which sounds insane to say that out loud,” she said. 

While Clubhouse first launched in April 2020 as a networking and social outlet for tech founders, beauty professionals started gathering on the app in large numbers in the fall.

“In the beginning, when it first launched, there were a lot more VCs on it,” said Tomi Talabi, founder of The Black Beauty Market and former director of communications and influencer marketing at Bobbi Brown. She joined Clubhouse in October and founded The Black Beauty Club, which has over 24,000 members, making it the largest beauty club on the app so far. Most of the early beauty industry members on the app were makeup artists. “The app changes weekly,” she said.

Moj Mahdara, the CEO and co-founder of Beautycon, is another avid Clubhouse user. She described the early beauty scene as “underground,” until major executives started arriving on the app en masse in January. 

Ron Robinson, the founder and CEO of BeautyStat, joined the app one month ago. He said he’s already spent seven hours moderating panels in one day.

“What I’m seeing is it’s getting more and more niche,” said Robinson. “You could create a room and talk about something really specific–I was just in a room the other day talking specifically about sunscreens.”

The app is serving multiple B2B purposes in beauty, with industry members seeking advice, networking and investment. Beauty professionals are using the app to discuss nearly every beauty topic imaginable, including (but not limited to) digital marketing, startups, chemistry, sustainability, packaging innovations, product positioning, influencers, and diversity and inclusion.

“I think this is completely unprecedented, in terms of community building,” said Wariebi. “The beauty of Clubhouse is that if somebody just brings you to the stage, you’re part of the conversation,” she said. “It’s almost like creating an even playing field for everybody.” 

“There’s so much good, free information [on Clubhouse] that should have been packaged and sold at a live webinar,” said Ming Lee, a beauty influencer with over 56,000 Clubhouse followers. She noted that the app has opened up access to information for small business founders of color. “We’ve honestly never really had access to this type of information for free,” she said. For her business, she has tuned in to talks about digital marketing strategies. One tip she received was to use text-based social app Community for her hair salon’s shop, which she said has led to a dramatic increase in conversion rates.

“I take notes, and I bring it back to my community. We hold our own room, and I share that same information,” she said.

Lee co-hosts talks with music marketing mogul Karen Civil, one of the biggest influencers on the app with over 2.1 million Clubhouse followers. Civil and Lee host a podcast together, and hold their podcast after-parties for listeners on the app, as well as other events. 

“With the platform that I have on there, I create access for other women,” said Civil, who has been hosting weekly Black History Month Clubhouse talks featuring Black female entrepreneurs in a range of industries including beauty. 

According to Mahdara, the app’s candid nature and format have helped draw users to it. 

“I don’t really think of Clubhouse as a conference experience,” she said, instead comparing it to a “dinner party or speakeasy” where people speak off the cuff. “It’s really a stomping ground where people who are creative and have something to say can get on a stage and say it.”

“People are surprisingly honest and vulnerable on the platform, and they also don’t have PR whispering in their ears,” said Swan Sit, a former digital head at Nike, Revlon and Estée Lauder. She has 2 million followers and hosts talks with a wide range of personalities on the app, such as influencer Griffin Johnson, author Malcolm Gladwell and Time’s Up CEO Tina Chen. “The surprise element of guests is incredible,” she said. “That’s different from a podcast, because you don’t often have that mix.” She also runs a Clubhouse pitch room with prominent VC investors to get startups funded.

Conor Begley, co-founder of influencer agency Tribe Dynamics, agreed that Clubhouse is “a lot more casual in nature.” He and Tribe established a weekly beauty event on Fridays, where they have featured beauty executives such as Nancy Twine from Briogeo, Amanda Baldwin from Supergoop and Scott Sassa of Milk Makeup. Begley recommends spending “two to four hours a day” on the app. “You can be really passive on it; you can just have it on and be listening in, and then pipe in when you have an idea or you have a thought, because you’re not engaged in video.” 

Jaime Schmidt, the founder of Schmidt’s Naturals, and her husband created Club CPG, which currently has over 21,000 Clubhouse members. Schmidt said she saw Clubhouse as “an opportunity to be a resource for others,” following the acquisition of her company by Unilever in 2017. “There are times when people reach out for one-on-one consulting, and maybe I don’t have time in my schedule that week. So it’s like: Join me in one of these public conversations, which is a great way to reach a lot of people.” 

The space is also rising as a B2C opportunity, with professionals holding talks on skin-care advice,  makeup and cultural topics. 

“You can get [everything] from skin care [tips] to business tips, which to me is mind-boggling,” said Civil. While there’s no mechanism for verified brand accounts, some beauty brands including Benefit Cosmetics and Glow Recipe have profiles. Glow Recipe hosts Clubhouse beauty talks that it promotes on its Instagram account.

For the most part, beauty brands are represented on the app by their founders: Dr. Barbara Sturm hosted a skin-care session, for example, while Topicals founder Olamide Olowe held a branded beauty talk. Some founders will offer exclusive discount codes to everyone in a Clubhouse conversation. 

“I don’t want to go in it as a brand yet. I want to do it for my personal brand and lend my expertise and share it for thought leadership,” said Robinson.

“Some people might think that it’s a B2B opportunity, but it’s definitely a huge B2C opportunity,” said Talabi. “It is truly a community space.”

She added, “If you start having a conversation with your consumers and building an opportunity into your community, then your brand on the space will be strong.” 

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