In Brands, Exclusives, Insight

The blockbuster brand NYX launched in 1999 when drugstore makeup brands looked like they were from drugstores, and they applied like they were from drugstores. The focus then wasn’t on quality, it was on price. Toni Ko saw a white-space opportunity to bring the quality and efficacy of name-brand department store cosmetics and make it be affordable. With this clear intention and a great intuitive marketing sense, the NYX brand created a new niche. 

1999: The Launch 

  • Founded by Toni Ko at age 25, NYX helped fill the void of on-trend, professional-quality products at drugstore pricing.
  • NYX was named after the Greek goddess of the night.
  • Toni received the seed money from her entreprenurial mother who owned a small designer fragrance and cosmetic retail business.
  • The first product assortment consisted of six colors in eyeliner and 12 colors in lip liner retailing at $1.99. 
  • As a one-man show, wholesale revenue for the first year was $2 million.
  • For years, the brand sold directly to makeup artists and professional beauty partners at trade shows

2007: Ulta Launch 

  • After years of trying to get into national drugstores without success, Ulta gives NYX their big break.

2008: The Influencer Discovery 

  • One-day sales spiked on the white Jumbo Eye Pencil which was set to be discontinued. After some research, a makeup tutorial on YouTube was discovered using the eye shadow pencil.
  • Products were sent to every influencer on YouTube.
  • Hundreds of beauty videos on the milky shadow-liner hybrid quickly followed and NYX doubled down on social media efforts.

2010: Ko Brings in Minority Investor, Hires a CFO

  • The brand grew to a staff of 60 but Ko was the only executive. 
  • Ko hired a CFO who came in and started building a team.
  • A minority investment was made by HCP capital out of Chicago.   

2011: The Birth of the FACE Awards

  • NYX launches first-of-its-kind competition like the American Idol for aspiring makeup artists. People “audition” by submitting beauty videos for consideration to a panel of judges who select the winning Beauty Vlogger of the Year.
  • There were 200 people at the inaugural show in Pasadena.
  • The awards have grown and helped catapult talent like Patrick Starrr and Madeyewlook.
  • In 2017 the FACE Awards had grown globally, spanning 43 countries: 6,000 people attended, hundreds of thousands of people watched it on the livestream, and there were 6,000 videos submitted.
  • 2017 winner Jessica Kalil bumped her Instagram following by 10,000 just days after taking home the trophy.

2012 – 2013: Fastest-Growing Color Brand in US

  • The brand became synonymous with the lip color category, making its mark with its Soft Matte Lip Cream.
  • One tube sells every four seconds according to the brand.
  • NYX reported net sales of 72 million US dollars, a growth of +46% vs 2012.
  • Ko hired a CEO, assuming the role of Chairwoman and the Chief Creative Director.

2014: The Sale 

  • An investment banker was hired, there were multiple potential buyers and a bidding process.
  • NYX was sold to L’Oréal for an estimated $500 million.
  • The L’Oréal transaction expands distribution outside the US.

2015: Setting Up Shop

  • NYX opened its very first brick-and-mortar beauty store in Santa Anita, California.

2018: The State of the Brand

  • The range started with 2 products in 18 shades, today the product range is about 2,000 SKUs.
  • NYX has more than 150 stores worldwide, with 35 here in the US—and growing.

Sources:

Cosmopolitan Get That Life: How I Founded a Cosmetics Company and Sold It to L’Oreal

Refinery29 This Is How Nyx Cosmetics Became One of the Biggest Beauty Brands on Social Media

Photo credit: G R A P H I C L I P S created by artist @pennold who used NYX Epic Ink Liner!

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