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Shakeup Cosmetics: FUTURE50 2024

Published April 2, 2024
Published April 2, 2024
Shakeup Cosmetics

Launched: 2019


  • Shane Carnell-Xu  
  • Jake Xu

Key Executives:

  • Shane Carnell-Xu, Founder
  • Jake Xu, Founder

2024 Full Year Expected Revenue Range: <$10 million

Offline points of distribution projected for 2024: 2,000

Primary Category: Skincare

Other Categories: Color Cosmetics, Personal Care 

Key Markets:

  • China
  • Norway
  • Australia

Retail Partnerships:

  • Tmall
  • Priceline
  • Vitusapotek
  • Apotek1

Primary Distribution Channel: International distributors

Other Distribution Channels:

  • Drugstore 
  • DTC
  • Third Party E-Commerce 
  • Professional 
  • Duty-Free

Notable Advisors / Board Members:

  • Sally Preston MBE
  • Neil Mather

Insight shared by co-founder, Shane Carnell-Xu

While women have always enjoyed the most cutting-edge and effective skincare and cosmetic products on offer, the men’s category has been stagnant for a long time with minimal innovations. In contrast, thanks to shifting notions of masculinity, the prevalence of social media, and a host of celebrities and pop cultures promoting the idea that it’s OK to embrace self-care, today more and more men are searching for face care solutions. The global men's skincare products market is set to grow from $14.1 billion in 2022 to $23.2 billion by 2029 according to Azoth Analytics; the potential for exciting new growth in the male grooming landscape is significant. So, it’s time to shake up the men’s beauty category.

Shakeup was founded by twin brothers Shane and Jake, former creative agency co-owners who worked with global beauty brands for over 10 years. Having both suffered from rosacea since a young age and spent many years searching for the right products designed for men, the brothers set out to create their own range. Shakeup exists to enhance men’s self-being through self-care, with solution-driven skincare and cosmetic products specifically designed to meet the unique needs of men’s skin, empowering them to look and feel their best.

What are some of your key business initiatives for 2024?

Building on the momentum of 160% year-over-year (YoY) growth in sales this financial year, 2024 is shaping up to be an incredibly exciting year for Shakeup.

The continued growth in our export business will remain crucial to the future success of our brand. In February, we will launch with two of the largest pharmacy groups in Norway across 650 doors. We are also on track to expand our retail footprint in Portugal through our existing partnership with Wells, as well as launching in France in Q1, via one of France's most prestigious premium retailers. Today, we are the #1 imported men’s cosmetics brand on all three China’s top e-tailers (Tmall, JD, and Douyin/TikTok). Having successfully registered our top-selling products in China for “traditional trade” in 2023, we are now ready to significantly expand our reach in China beyond cross border e-commerce in 2024.  

New product development (NPD) is our life blood. In late 2023, we launched our latest and biggest product innovation to date—AGE DEF-EYE Instant Lifting Eye Cream, which went viral for its amazing effect to visibly remove fine lines around the eyes within 90 seconds, doubling our DTC sales overnight. In 2024, we have more exciting new product launches in our plan, tapping into new categories within men's self-care, enhancing our offering and broadening our appeal. Our growing innovative range and insight-driven NPD pipeline will enable us to accelerate new customer acquisition and attract new retailer and distributor partners, turbo-charging our growth.

What are you most proud of having accomplished since the business has launched?

As a fledgling indie beauty brand, we as a team have overcome so many challenges over the past three-plus years. But our proudest achievement has to be the way we quickly and decisively pivoted our strategy and shifted our focus to export when Covid forced the UK into strict lockdowns.

When the pandemic happened, Shakeup had only been launched for less than six months. Facing a tough lockdown in the UK, we decided to bring forward our international expansion plans, which we had not expected to commence until year two. That decision meant that we not only survived the pandemic, but actually thrived during the toughest two years that followed. With our standout brand image, clear masstige price positioning, “made in Britain” badge of quality, and our solution-driven innovative and efficacious products, we managed to attract and onboard several reputable distributor partners across various key markets. As a result, our revenue jumped 300% YoY in FY21–22, allowing us to grow the team and expand our range. Today, we remain a proud export-led business, and have established a strong foothold in multiple markets including China, Australia, and Norway where entry barriers are usually high for new beauty brands, selling in over 1,200 retail points as well as online. It just goes to show, there is opportunity in every crisis.

What has been the biggest surprise?

We have been pleasantly surprised by how quickly men all around the world have embraced our mission to enhance men’s self-being through self-care. As a brand, we set out to offer solution-driven face care products specifically designed for men’s skin, empowering them to look and feel their best. So, it's been great to see men jumping on board. From daily routines to special occasions, our products have become part of their go-to tools, showing there's a real appetite for skincare tailored to men's needs. It's not just about looking good; it's about feeling confident. We're stoked to be part of a movement challenging old-school ideas about grooming and masculinity. As more guys join in, our commitment to delivering amazing products that boost self-confidence only gets stronger.

Shakeup will stand at the forefront of a transformative shift in the men’s beauty landscape where men confidently embrace the power of self-care.

"Our hybrid product proposition of combining long-term skincare benefits and instant cosmetic features in our range truly sets us apart from the competition in every market—offering men an integrated range of solutions."
By Shane Carnell-Xu, co-founder, Shakeup Cosmetics

What aspect of your brand DNA fuels your competitive advantage?

First of all, we welcome competitions in the men’s beauty category, which is still in its early growth stage; we have seen some limited number of credible new brands launching in this space—it helps increase overall education and awareness and encourages category growth as a whole.

Our hybrid product proposition of combining long-term skincare benefits and instant cosmetic features in our range truly sets us apart from the competition in every market—offering men an integrated range of solutions.

Furthermore, set against the sea of “black and white, navy and grey,” which had historically dominated the men’s aisle, Shakeup’s eye-catching packaging and fresh brand image really stand out against the crowd. We command stronger on-shelf presence, and our brand has consistently been perceived by our customers as premium and desirable.

Last but not least, we are proud to provide a safe and welcoming space to redefine modern masculinity and challenge gender stereotypes. Today’s consumers are passionate about equality and inclusivity. While society is shifting and attitudes are changing, sadly the industry is still affected by stigma that inhibits progress. We are determined to change that by delivering knowledge of ingredients and product benefits to bring more men into the beauty conversation, by working with high street retail partners all over the world to democratize beauty among men, and by engaging with influencers and media to raise awareness and affect change.

Please share your insight on the future of the beauty industry.

The beauty industry's future is shaped by evolving consumer expectations, sustainability, and technology. Within this landscape, a notable trend will be the rising influence of men in the beauty sphere. Men are challenging stereotypes, embracing grooming as an integral part of self-care. The men's beauty movement demands targeted, efficient products, prompting brands to innovate and break away from traditional norms.

Technological advancements like AI and augmented reality cater to men's preferences, offering personalized virtual experiences. Inclusivity is a key aspect, with brands recognizing and catering to the unique needs of men’s skin and male consumers’ behavior. Sustainability plays a significant role as men, like their female counterparts, become conscious consumers, influencing product choices and packaging.

As the direct to consumer (DTC) model in the beauty market faces increasing challenges due to heightened competition, evolving consumer preferences, market saturation, and less effective performance from Meta ads, it’s crucial that brands adopt an omnichannel approach—go wherever the customers shop. The future of men's beauty lies in dismantling outdated stereotypes, encouraging self-expression, and positioning skincare as vital to overall well-being. As this trend gains momentum, we anticipate a dynamic evolution, reflecting the diverse preferences and needs of the modern, conscious male consumer.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

The best piece of advice I have been given is that sometimes what appears to be a misfortune may turn out to be a blessing in disguise and vice versa. The start-up journey is extremely tough, and it’s a real rollercoaster ride through the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. I’ve learned over the years to maintain a perspective of resilience, patience, and openness to the uncertainties of life and embrace life's twists and turns with equanimity, recognizing that challenges and setbacks might pave the way for unforeseen opportunities.

What is the best mistake you've ever made?

The best mistake I made was related to hiring decisions. Initially viewing it as a setback, making some less-than-ideal hires ultimately became a valuable learning experience. These instances highlighted the significance of a thorough and discerning recruitment process. As a result, I reevaluated and strengthened our hiring procedures, emphasizing not only skills and experience but also cultural fit and shared values. In retrospect, these "bad hires" played a pivotal role in shaping a more robust and cohesive team. I believe today we have the most capable and dedicated team in the business, driven by our shared vision and ambition for our brand.

Paying it forward, what advice would you give to someone contemplating launching a beauty brand?

Know Your Niche: Identify a specific niche or unique angle for your brand and your products. Don’t enter a red ocean with a me-too brand.

Know Your Market: Understand your target audience, competitors, and market trends. Validate the demand for your products and ensure that not only there's a gap in the market, but there is also a market in that gap!

Great Products Sell Themselves: No matter how strong the marketing, ultimately your business’ success or failure is determined by the quality of your products. Positive product experiences build trust and customer loyalty, which is key to sustainable growth.

Start Small, Scale Wisely: Begin with a curated product line to establish your brand. As you gain traction, consider expanding your product offerings strategically.

Be Authentic: Today’s consumers can see right through marketing BS and fake sentiments in a brand’s communications. Stay true to your “why” and let it guide everything you do.

Zig and Zag, and Never Stop Hustling: Stay adaptable, listen to customer feedback, and continuously evolve your brand and your plans to meet market demands.

If you could change one thing in the beauty industry what would it be?

I would urge beauty buyers at influential retailers to recognize and harness the potential of indie beauty brands and challenger brands as key drivers of incremental growth. It is essential for these key players in the retail landscape to not only acknowledge the unique value propositions offered by emerging brands but also actively provide more opportunities and real support to foster their success and growth. Embracing indie and challenger brands not only diversifies product offerings but also taps into evolving consumer preferences for authenticity and innovation, creating a more dynamic and attractive retail environment. Genuine collaboration and strategic partnerships between retailers and indie brands can pave the way for mutual success. In doing so, the beauty industry can cultivate a more inclusive marketplace, where emerging brands thrive, contributing not only to their individual growth but also to the overall vitality and resilience of the industry as a whole.


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