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Tower 28: FUTURE50 2024

Published May 19, 2024
Published May 19, 2024
Tower 28

Founder:
Amy Liu

Key Executives:

  • Amy Liu, Founder and CEO
  • Victor Liu, CFO

How many offline points of distribution do you project globally for 2024?
About 1,750

Primary Beauty Category:
Color Cosmetics / Makeup

Other Beauty Categories:
Facial Skincare

Key Markets:
United States

Retail Partnerships:
Sephora

Primary Distribution Channel:
Prestige 

Other Distribution Channels:
DTC

Funding Rounds:
Private Equity

Please share the inspiration for your brand and how it meets a need in the beauty industry.

For 20-plus years, I worked as a beauty executive at some of the fastest growing prestige companies including Smashbox, Kate Somerville, and Josie Maran Cosmetics. But as a longtime eczema sufferer, I couldn’t enjoy the best part of working in the beauty industry: trying out all the products! Even the clean alternatives were super expensive or too clinical, as if they were coming straight from the doctor’s office. I saw this white space as an opportunity and launched Tower 28 in 2019 as a clean beauty company designed for sensitive skin and inclusive of all skin tones, skin types, budgets, and beauty philosophies. With the message that #ItsOkayToBeSensitive, Tower 28 is the first and only beauty brand to 100% follow the National Eczema Association’s ingredient guidelines. The skin-friendly products are 100% clean, vegan, and free of every known skin irritant. Everything is rigorously dermatologist and allergy tested, and formulas adhere strictly to the National Eczema Association’s ingredient guidelines.

What are some of your key business initiatives for 2024?

Our focus for 2024 revolves around initiatives that underscore our growth, innovation, and community impact—encapsulating our commitment to making positive change in the beauty industry. One of our primary objectives is to deepen our relationship with existing retail partners. Currently in 160 branded endcaps, we are thrilled to announce Tower 28 is set to expand to all Sephora stores (600+), with branded endcaps nationwide by the end of this year. This expansion marks a significant milestone for the brand, and underscores our commitment to being more accessible to our customers. Another ongoing focus is meeting the specific needs articulated by our community—whether that be additional shades, new products, or partnerships—setting new benchmarks for sensitive skin-friendly beauty that exceed the expectations of our diverse customer base. Through this customer-centric approach to innovation, we strive to build trust, loyalty, and long-lasting connections. Beyond this, we believe in actively participating in projects that uplift our communities, whether through local nonprofit Heal the Bay that works to keep California ocean waters clean or work to make the beauty industry a more diverse and inclusive one. I always say that we truly are better together! And with that mentality four years ago, I spearheaded a mentorship and education program for BIPOC beauty founders called Clean Beauty Summer School.

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

As a founder, I am most proud of bringing together an exceptional team that makes magic behind the scenes. Witnessing the synergy among team members, where each individual uplifts and inspires one another to strive for excellence, is truly gratifying. The positive and collaborative work environment we've cultivated is not only a source of pride but also a key factor in the success and innovation that defines Tower 28.

What has been the biggest surprise since the brand was founded?

The most significant surprise since starting Tower 28 has undoubtedly been the incredible response from the customer and clear product-market fit—and so quickly! Beauty is saturated with so much competition and noise, plus starting a brand has become increasingly accessible. I'm not an influencer, and I didn't have a built-in audience, so the fact that we've achieved such success in this competitive landscape speaks volumes about the products we’ve created and the loyal community we’ve built. It’s all thanks to the small but mighty Team T28!

What aspect of your brand DNA fuels your competitive advantage?

Tower 28's competitive advantage is rooted in its brand DNA, which focuses on creating clean, high-performance beauty products designed for people with sensitive skin—a previously underserved market. Before Tower 28's inception in 2019, finding beauty products suitable for sensitive skin was a challenging task. This commitment to sensitivity sets the brand apart in a growing category that Tower 28 proudly stands at the forefront of. It not only differentiates the brand but also resonates with an increasing number of consumers seeking gentle and effective beauty solutions.

"The more diversity we have at the decision- making level, the more diversity we will be able to serve the customer to showcase beauty as an expression of the truly diverse society we live in."
By Amy Liu, Founder + CEO, Tower 28

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

As an entrepreneur, I hope to see more support for the diversity of brands and founders. The macro climate has made it difficult for indie brands to fundraise and the rising costs of being in business (Prop 65, performance marketing) have made it more expensive. The combination is especially difficult for indie brands struggling to make it through the first few years. The more diversity we have at the decision- making level, the more diversity we will be able to serve the customer to showcase beauty as an expression of the truly diverse society we live in.

It’s great to see that the beauty industry has been more inclusive in recent years, with an emphasis on diverse representation in everything from product development to marketing. And I think this will continue with products catering to a wide range of skin tones, hair types, and even stages in your life (i.e., postnatal and menopause).

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

The best career advice I’ve received is the same as the best love life advice I’ve received—don’t settle. With every change in my career, I’ve made a great effort to make sure I wasn’t just trading one problem for another, but rather evolving and getting closer to the target by figuring out what I liked and wanted to keep (small teams, flat organizations, fast moving), plus what I want to change.

What is the best mistake you've ever made and what did you learn?

Comparison is the thief of joy! I was so intimidated by how much other brands spent and how elaborate their marketing was, but now in retrospect I realize that constraints encourage creativity. And profitability!

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

I always tell people looking to get into the industry to practice collaboration over competition. I truly believe we’re stronger together and changing the future of the industry. Also, be kind and work hard! And don’t be in such a rush, go learn on someone else’s dime.

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

If I could change one thing in the beauty industry, it would be to see more of the incredible progress in terms of diversity that I’ve witnessed since I started in this field. The industry has undergone a significant transformation from being primarily male-dominated with limited representation of indie brands, to a much more democratized space. People are now empowered to tell their own stories and share narratives that truly reflect who they are. But we still need more diversity, individuality, and inclusivity!

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