Welcome to this week’s installment of the Startup of the Week. Today we are introducing you to Crine Insalata, Founder of BOBOU Beauty, a creator of Italian-made makeup brushes for people with sensitive skin.
To hear from Crine directly, we encourage you to check out the pitch she gave during the third edition of the Beauty Tech Pitch Night. Start watching the recording from 1 hr 6 minutes and 41 seconds until 1 hr 17 and 40 seconds.
The Bobou Beauty Brushes: Technology for Sensitive Skins Meets Italian Artisanship
The idea for the BOBOU Beauty brushes originated from Crine’s love of makeup while being 1 out of every 3 consumers who has sensitive skin.
While the beauty industry is flooded with new skin-care solutions for people like her, she found that makeup application brushes were in dire need of innovation. Her own experience informed her that generic beauty brushes were an underexplored contribution to problematic skin. With this understanding in mind, she decided to create a brush that would change the makeup application field.
She began teaming up with dermatologists to create BOBOU Beauty’s patented Dermafibre technology. The brush is designed to mimic the shape of actual hair, thereby eliminating irritation to skin. The high quality of the brush also helps to reduce the amount of product you actually need to use, while leaving a clean natural finish.
Crine didn’t want her brushes to merely be defined by the science behind them. She also wanted to create an aesthetic that would inspire the artists and individuality in her clientele.
With this in mind, she carefully selected an Italian brush maker that has been perfecting their trade since the 1940s as her supplier. Together they chose a distinctive, red satin touch to accompany the Dermafibre brush technology. If you are reminded of the Renaissance era when you behold the BOBOU brush, that was 100% the intention. Melding Italian artisanship and science together is what has made this a true-fan favorite.
BOBOU brushes have consistenly received 5 star reviews and positive feedback from peers, influencers, and beauty editors. Need proof? Bobou Beauty has received multiple high-profile recognitions since its founding in 2020, including: being featured as Beauty Must-haves in Vogue, Tatler Magazine and Vanity Fair as well as being shortlisted for the Pure Beauty Awards London in 2020.
More Than A Makeup Brush
Crine’s aspiration is to make BOBOU Beauty into more than a brush. She also hopes to generate impact in two ways. The first is to educate consumers and empower them to be selective of what products they expose their skin to. The Bobou brush is all about intentionality and choosing to give yourself the highest quality products.
The second goal is to create a brand that is genuinely inclusive that brings out uninhibited self-expression. As Crine Says, “BOBOU is for men, women, and gender non-binary people who love to live authentically with boldness and confidence and dare to live extraordinary lives. Everything we say and do seeks to champion these principles.”
In writing this article, it was clear that Crine has applied her extensive knowledge in branding and marketing to BOBOU. However, it was actually a departure from her 20 year long career in branding that launched her into the startup world.
When One Door Closes, Choose to throw another one wide open
Like many people, the pandemic was an unexpected turning point for Crine. She says, “I lost my job at the beginning of the Lockdown unexpectedly. I made a decision to chart my own path by doing something I had always wanted to do and that is to apply my branding experience to create a beauty business. So BOBOU Beauty was born.”
Despite being deeply committed to and inspired about her new career, Crine says that she has faced challenges.
Lessons learned and Advice for Founders
While finding funding has been critically important for Crine, she has also come to the understand that finding the right financier is equally as important as securing financing. She’s learned that while potential partners and investors may seem initially motivated about supporting BOBOU, it comes from a desire to make money rather than supporting the vision. Her advice for entrepreneurs: know that you are also allowed to be selective.
She also has some insight for female founders in particular: watch out for the hype. She explains, “I think as a female founder it is a double-edged sword. Investors see female founders as a trend, but they are mostly interested in purely tech startups. Even though we are a digital-first brand, it is difficult to prove to investors that our brand has scalability.”
Her advice for female entrepreneurs is to not lose heart and build a plan to give themselves purpose through the challenging moments. Curveballs and mishaps are a given-choose to make those into learning moments. Her final words of wisdom is this: mistakes and hardship are lessons in resilience and adaptability. Choose to not beat yourself up about them.