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Proof That Social Media Grows Businesses

11/07/2011

If you are like many, you are waiting for a sign from God that social media can grow your business. While not coming from above, actually in the Twin Cities, a two year-old business called Sigma Beauty is proving the point.

Sigma Beauty was started by Simone Oliveira, a Ph.D. in infectious diseases and a top veterinary researcher at the University of Minnesota. One day, Oliveira decided that instead of eradicating bacteria in pigs, she would rather help women look more beautiful. No that’s changing gears. Especially given that Oliveira knew really nothing about makeup.

Two years ago Oliveira saw a YouTube channel in which women demonstrated how to apply makeup. The Ph.D. thought the woman on YouTube was a pretty good teacher.

Oliveira, and husband/co-founder Rene Xavier Filho, began designing brushes and sending products to bloggers (not me). Soon internet makeup rock stars like Tiffany Denny, a self-taught makeup artist in Atlanta and creator of the YouTube channel called MakeupByTiffanyD, gave Sigma’s products a thumbs up. Sales took off.

Sigma’s founders chose the social media route because of costs and lack of brand recognition. Product placement on makeup counters in department stores is difficult to achieve and it will most definitely be costly. Using social media allowed Oliveira to avoid that situation and ramp up its business rapidly. 2010 sales are said to be near $13 million compared to $1.5 million in 2009. That’s a nice trajectory!

Would Oliveira’s strategy work for all start-ups? Probably not. Sigma is playing in a very large sandbox. The makeup industry is currently valued at $58.3 billion according to Demeter Group research. But clearly in a sector where technique, style and a woman’s motivation to look her best intersect, social has been good for Sigma.

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