From candy (Candytopia) to grub (Foodie Space) to emotions (Happy Place), Instagram-ready “pop-up” environments are everywhere these days. They may be very different in terms of themes and artistic set designs but they are all based on the same premise — you will be compelled to take pictures within them, then share those pictures online, which in turn will inspire more people to come and do the same. BeautyCon Pop is the latest selfie-ready space with photo ops as a focal point, and it’s a long time coming.
The beauty industry as a whole is a decidedly different tube of lipstick these days, more dependent on social media sharing, influencers and real-life fans (versus celebrities) than maybe any other industry. Makeup artists (and aspiring ones), YouTubers and normal people like you and me can affect a beauty brand’s image, fan base and bottom line, simply by sharing our faces, swatches and feelings about products. If we take pretty pictures while doing so, all the better.
Nobody knows this better than Lime Crime, the SoCal-based company created by Doe Deere in 2008. Deere’s original vision was all about providing makeup for the unique, punky unicorn girls who didn’t fit in with the sophisticated department store or Sephora crowd; girls who loved glitter and rainbows and Technicolor hair (its Unicorn Hair Color brand, to be exact). Clearly there were a lot of them out there and their presence was growing rapidly on the web as they connected and formed communities online. Lime Crime grew rapidly, too, which led to some controversies in its early years, including a security breach and subsequent multiple credit card hackings (resulting in a now-settled class-action lawsuit), and some problems with the FDA over packaging.
But all that seems to be in the past as the brand (which designs, manufactures and assembles vegan, cruelty-free products right here in Los Angeles) forges forward. Deere has stepped back as head and industry vet Stacy Panagakis is now CEO. Tengram Capital Partners (TCP), a private equity firm that invests in branded consumer products and companies, took over last year and seems to have big plans to take the company beyond its cult success.
"I founded Lime Crime with the goal of revolutionizing how people express themselves,” Deere tells L.A. Weekly. “While I am no longer part of the day-to-day decisions, I remain available and engaged for guidance as needed. I have confidence in the new leadership team and know they are working hard to continue bringing my vision to life in creative, colorful ways.”
Moving Lime Crime from online fave to retail rave has been the first order of business since the changes were made. It's now available at the new Forever 21 cosmetics mega-store in local malls, Riley Rose, as well as the clubwear emporium Dolls Kill, and hopes to move from Ulta Beauty's website to the stores soon.
Perhaps most notably, the brand has been huge at BeautyCon, the popular gathering of makeup mobs that's been packing the L.A. Convention Center the past few years to share samples and the latest makeup trends. BeautyCon Pop is an extension of the convention and, though other brands have a presence there, the Lime Crime influence is notable, with hot pink hues throughout, a unicorn walkway and a dedicated room that expands on the brand's popular Venus eyeshadow palette imagery. Guests get to become Venus herself standing inside a DayGlo shell with a background inspired by the famed Botticelli painting Birth of Venus.
Some other BeautyCon backdrops and experiences sure to get L.A. posing and puckering into their cellies include a silver confetti immersion, a stark white room with a stairway straight out of Drake’s “Telephone” video, and a runway (sponsored by Macy’s) in which patrons can prance as Beyoncé plays in the background. A video of the catwalk stomping is created and in your phone instantly. BeautyCon Pop also has a salon offering free services and products for sale from various partners including Laneige and Mamonde.
But Lime Crime is definitely the standout, keeping in line with their bold colors, vibrant packaging and “be unique” mindset. From mini Venus palettes to Diamond eye glitters to new lines that tap into girly, yummy hues and flavors like cherries, plushies and more, it seems very in tune with its young, quirky media-savvy customer, most likely because the company itself was started by one and it continues to employ them. Its “Girl Gang” line, based on gals who work in its L.A. offices, even individualizes stuff for them based on personal tastes.
"To see a brand that has actually stood the test of time and been able to remain a digital force with a different point of view is super interesting," says Bianca Bolouri, VP of marketing at the company. "Lime Crime really has a hold on that in the marketplace. The way the brand portrays color, the ethos of the brand and even how they pace their business is very mindful and very consumer-centric."
We saw this in action at Lime Crime’s holiday party for influencers last week. Held inside BeautyCon, the colorful bash provided fancy treats and themed drinks, a DJ, games, giveaways, and a giant snow globe inside which guests could take pictures and (of course) post online to give their followers FOMO.
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Social media culture's dominance on youth these days has its problematic points, but judging from the proliferation of pop-up photo-driven experiences, it's here to stay. Today these outlets are accepted tools to get the word out for any product but especially beauty, with makeovers and tutorials dominating online. In spite of some rough patches in its infancy, Lime Crime has found success by using these forms of promo very well, providing a playful presentation that focuses on self expression and celebration of all the “unicorns” out there.
“We are super excited for the future. We’ve heard so much from our consumers on social and IRL about what they want most from Lime Crime and we’re giving it all to them,” says Sasha Valentine, the company's chief creative officer. “We’re bringing back some old favorites from the line and launching into new categories as well as taking an innovative spin on packaging in the New Year.”
Beautycon POP is open through Jan. 31. Tickets at beautycon.com.
More info on Lime Crime at limecrime.com.