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It's a Matter Of...Intuition

Always Be Looking

November 02, 2021 BeautyMatter
November 02, 2021

Inspiration is the fuel for creative minds that often happens in unexpected ways opening us up to new possibilities that transcend our ordinary experiences. The role of inspiration is often overlooked, but it's the springboard for creativity that leads to disrupting convention with radically new ideas. Robb Akridge, AKA Dr. Robb, the Founder and CEO of OPULUS Beauty Labs, sits down with Kelly Kovack to discuss how he harnesses inspiration to develop products and brands that redefine the beauty industry.

 

[beginning of recorded audio]

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:00:12]: Hi, I’m Dr. Robb, CEO and Founder of Opulus Beauty Labs, and to me, it’s a matter of intuition.

Kelly Kovack [00:00:23]: Always be looking. I’m Kelly Kovack, the Founder of BeautyMatter. Inspiration matters. It is the fuel for creative minds that often happens in unexpected ways. It opens us up to new possibilities that transcend our ordinary experiences. Unfortunately, we live in a culture obsessed with measuring and quantifying talent and ability. The role of inspiration is often overlooked, but it’s the springboard for creativity that leads to disrupting convention and traditional industry categories with radically new ideas. Robb Akridge, AKA Dr. Robb, the Founder and CEO of REA Innovations is creating risky, extreme, and addictive products and brands, like Opulus Beauty Labs. Dr. Robb is the embodiment of science and creativity. He has an innate ability to harness inspiration and translate it into innovation that can be commercialized. And this has been his unique recipe for success.

So Dr. Robb, I am so excited to have you as a guest on the podcast so we can dive into your new venture, Opulus Beauty Labs.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:01:33]: I’m excited to be here.

Kelly Kovack [00:01:35]: So I feel like everyone in the industry knows you, but for our listeners outside beauty, I’d love to share your background and how you found your way into becoming a beauty pioneer, because that’s not where you started, and really a pioneer in the device category with Clarisonic.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:01:52]: That is correct. I have such a diverse background, it’s really crazy.

Kelly Kovack [00:01:56]: Well, will you share it with us?

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:01:58]: Sure. So, actually, I am a scientist. I have a background in many different areas, one is, for example, biology, botany, and infectious disease, immunology. I have a PhD and did years of work on AIDS, vaccines, that was back in the ‘90s. Actually after working in medical research for over, I think, 30 years, I actually went into working with Sonicare Toothbrush as a senior scientist, worked on gingivitis, periodontitis, learned all about the bacteria of your mouth and how it’s all in balance and what sonic technology can do. Then I was asked to start another company after we sold that to Phillips to create a product called Clarisonic that was a huge hit. It was a global brand and we sold that to L’Oréal and I worked for L’Oréal for six years where I was the local head of the brand and used to fly all over the world launching it. And then I decided I wanted to do something else, and that’s when we started with Opulus Beauty Labs.

Kelly Kovack [00:02:53]: As you mentioned, the Clarisonic business was sold to L’Oréal in 2011. And so for many entrepreneurs, an exit to a strategic is sort of the holy grail, but I often think they don’t often realize what that entails sort of after the fact, selling your baby, so to speak. You stayed there until 2018. Can you share just a little bit about – for founders contemplating this type of exit, are there any tips you can share? Or how do the dynamics change?

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:03:26]: Yeah, I can share some tips that I always tell people that ask if they want to start a company, what do we do? And I always say well, how are you going to exit? And they say, what? We don’t even have a brand yet. I say, yeah, but you need to know ahead of time how you’re going to exit. Is it going to become publicly traded, an IPO, or is there going to be something where you have a VC come in and flip it for another price, or is it something where you just keep it and pass it down to your children’s children’s children and keep going as a private brand, or is it selling it to a larger corporation? Now, when you actually create a brand that becomes part of the United States, that’s totally different than a brand that needs to be global. And for a small company, anybody out there, if you have a small company, you need a different system or systems in place in order to become a truly global brand. And that’s what the big ones, like the L’Oréal’s and the Estee Lauders of the world, Unilever, etcetera, they all have those infrastructures in place. So the emotional side is that you’ve taken this baby, as you described your brand, and you’ve grown it, and it reaches a point where you don’t own the baby anymore; it’s about the customer owning the baby. They’re the ones who define how they view you brand and what you should do next, if you really listen to the consumer, which is what we’re doing at Opulus Beauty Labs. We’re listening to what they’re telling us and where we should go and I think we’ve got some great things coming up. But the thing is is that you also have to realize when the larger corporation acquires it, they have certain systems in place for production. They’re totally different than what you have, and your baby has basically gone off to college and you’re actually waiting to see what happens. And it can be a huge success or it cannot be, and you have to just say, okay, they bought that company and that’s what they wanted to do with it. It meant something to their portfolio and good luck. But I did something that was really weird, also: I stayed for six years at L’Oréal because to me, it’s my personal PhD in global beauty. I actually learned a lot from L’Oréal and am able to determine how they function and what they look for in brands and how you become part of this larger network and what that entails, the financials down the market. An amazing experience.

Kelly Kovack [00:05:35]: Well, and you certainly have wasted no time taking that sort of learning and applying it into your next venture. And honestly, I think that you really have another groundbreaking beauty innovation on your hands. What was the white space you identified that you were building into this time around? And what is Opulus Beauty Labs, exactly?

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:06:00]: The way I would describe it is if you were to imagine a brand where you could open a forever cosmetic jar and every day you would have something different, something to excite you, something to wow you, it’s a personal one dose product. And the next day, as your skin is changing, you can try to put something different into this jar that transforms before your eyes. It gives you this excitement at every sense: your taste, it smells different, the textures are different than anything I’ve experienced, there are actives in there that are not commonly together because you freshly activated those right before your eyes. That’s the vision and that’s what we’re doing at Opulus Beauty Labs. So this all started in a very fancy chocolate shop where I was looking at all of the different types of candies. And if you’ve ever gone to a chocolate shop, you know that each one is sort of like its own work of art: it’s very beautiful, it has a different surface, you open it and it’s different types of fillings, it could be cream, it could be marshmallow, whatever, and I thought, you know, each one is a different experience for taste, different for fragrance, different texture, why can’t cosmetics be this way? Why can’t you actually create these individual doses for consumers using cosmetic ingredients to give them an experience they’ve never had before? Because when you look at “innovation” over the years, it’s always been a jar with some kind of cream, with some kind of active, with some kind of label for marketing that differentiates it from all the other jars with all the other actives with all the other creams. And if you could create a brand that excites you again that’s luxurious that touches on all of your senses to give you an experience that you can’t get anywhere else, I feel that that’s true innovation.

Kelly Kovack [00:07:40]: Were you looking for another idea? Did you know you were going to start another business?

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:07:44]: Yeah, I was excited about doing something different, totally different than what I was doing. What was really bizarre was that after we sold Clarisonic, I actually started dreaming in technicolor again. I hadn’t realized all my dreams had been black and white, because for 15 years, all I thought about was sonic technology. And then I had this freedom to dream again, to have imagination, to create, my dreams were like, for five days, these vivid technicolor dreams, which I rarely have. So that just gave me the freedom to start thinking in a different way, reimagining beauty. And that’s what we’re doing at Opulus Beauty Labs: we’re reimagining the way people handle, see, and use their cosmetic products.

Kelly Kovack [00:08:28]: So since we have to describe it, because we can’t see it, it’s a device, right? Because I think we need to explain it for people to really understand how groundbreaking it is.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:08:40]: Yes. So there’s really two innovations, and I would say the primary and the key innovation is the genius chemistry. So if you would imagine in your mind a standalone product that looks sort of like a chocolate, it has the harder shell on the outside, and inside there’s some sort of filling. We call that the coat and the core is the filling. The coat is actually made out of cosmetic ingredients that stand firm to protect the core, the center. And then you can take that individual, single dose, what we call the opule, it’s a new word, and you actually put it into an activator, an opulus activator, you take the lid off, think of it as a jar, a long cylinder jar, it’s very elegant, it’s got a gold band on it. You open it up, and when you open it up, it exposes a bowl in the center and you put the opule in there, and then you just close the lid, like you would any cosmetic jar, and you turn it on. And what happens there is this process of thermally blending the product. You basically crush the opule into a flat bowl, you rapidly heat it, and then you slowly mix it, because there is a blade – a trifold blade is what we call it – in the lid and then it slowly mixes the two phases, which are semi liquid, semi solid at this state because of the heat, and then in the last 10 or 15 seconds, it rapidly blends it to create this sheer force that brings both parts together to give you a final cosmetic product that’s warm to the touch and is better absorbed because of the warmth. And people think of it as spa experiences, they think of it as something they’ve never experienced except at a spa. And the thing is that you can do this at home.

Kelly Kovack [00:10:18]: The most interesting thing to me was it is definitely not a DIY experience. It is almost like you have your own little manufacturing facility in your bathroom. It’s so cool and the device itself is beautifully designed; you’ve thought of everything. Even cleaning it is easy. It truly is a completely different way of experiencing a product.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:10:44]: Yes. And because of the chemistry, because of the coat and the core, we can put actives in the coat and actives in the core that aren’t usually compatible, but they’re suspended there waiting for you to activate them, to get freshly activated beauty, by just placing one into the activator. And because the chemistries are different in the coat and the core, we can modify those to basically come up with final products that look like serums or look like moisturizers or face masks or body products or hair products. So by having that new chemistry, we’re able to then have all types of beauty. So that was our biggest challenge: where do we focus? We could create hair products; we could create body products. So we went down the line of skin treatments, and I know you know this Kelly, because you use the product, but we said, what’s the biggest ingredient out there over the years? And it’s retinol. For 40 years, retinol has been the best anti-aging active out there; however, it has challenges. So we thought, okay, how can we make this easy for the consumer? Because usually you have to get your skin used to the retinol through a process called retinization and you get red and dry and flaky and people just give up, and the doctors tell them, oh, you just mix it with a little more moisturizer, or you skip every night, they give you this really complicated routine for retinol, and we said no. We have this wonderful thing called an opule, that’s the coat and the core. We can make retinol opules and we can make opules that having soothing, calming ingredients in them such as allantoin, use those in a box in which we create like a “box of chocolates,” in which you have 28, four weeks’ worth. All you have to do is go to the first night and put the first one in, and that gives you a retinol dose. But the next two or three nights is your calming, soothing, RHR is what we call it, and basically it’s just calming your skin. So then after you get through with that, you just go through the four weeks’ of usage, and your skin has become used to the product, used to retinol, and then you can either go up in concentration to the next regimen that we have, which has a slightly higher concentration, and then you can go up to the final regimen that we have, which we call R3. Retinol, it takes about 90 days to get retinization, to really have your skin go through the process and become accustomed to retinol. Retinol is first, but we know that we’re going to be able to create all types of things going forward in the beauty industry.

Kelly Kovack [00:13:07]: I think another interesting thing is that you’ve taken – like so many people approach innovation or sort of personalization by throwing technology at it: algorithms and proprietary this and proprietary that. And I feel like you’ve actually gone the other way around and simplified everything, and in the simplification of sort of the product itself and almost the pairing back, you’ve arrived at something even more innovative, which is so fascinating.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:13:39]: I’m so happy you said that. The thing that I think is amazing is that – 

Kelly Kovack [00:13:44]: With an ingredient so many people are chasing, like the new exotic ingredients, and you’ve also focused on a tried-and-true ingredient.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:13:50]: And the thing that I think is amazing is that if you go back and look at the complexity that’s being generated, as you said, in new innovation, it’s usually linked to some wireless, Bluetooth, something or another that can give you the status of your skin. People don’t want that. We’re trying to be in tune with the consumer. What do they want? They want their skin to look better. How do you give that to them? How do you overcome the obstacles that they see every day when using an active like retinol? And we try to simplify it but still use technology to give them something different so that they can just use it every night in their bathroom and not have to worry about, oh, do I put this on or do I put that on and do I link it to my phone and what is my phone telling me about my skin? People don’t want that. People want – especially in the luxury, people want cutting edge but they want something they can just fall in love with, and I think at Opulus Beauty Labs, we’ve done that.

Kelly Kovack [00:14:43]: I think you absolutely have. And I don’t know if you contemplated sustainability because it is a luxury proposition, which, you know, I also feel like there aren’t many luxury launches these days. Everyone is sort of hyper-focused on how cheap can we make something. I was selling luxury goods way before I could even afford them, in college, so there’s always a place for a luxury proposition. And so it’s packaged as such, right? But there is sort of a stripping down of the package as well because there is no packaging of the product itself.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:15:20]: Right. So one of the challenges we had with Opulus Beauty Labs are the opules, the coat and the core. People think that the outside of the opule is plastic. There’s no plastic, there’s no pods, those are actual cosmetic ingredients that stand alone to protect everything. So that’s the first sustainability approach we have. You don’t have to have it in a jar to keep it preserved. And we place it into a nice box, an elegant box, and we’ve actually wrapped them in individual pieces of, we call them a little cradle, pieces of paper, so you don’t have to worry about that. So we try to minimize plastics as much as possible. Obviously the activator has plastic in it, but that’s a long-term product, so it’s like a forever cosmetic jar which you can continue to use as long as you’re not throwing it out every three months like what happens with most cosmetic products.

Kelly Kovack [00:16:07]: So there really is nothing like what you’ve launched, and you’re also very well-versed in what it takes to bring a beauty product to market. But you’ve, in this concept, redefined the concept and form of how a product is being delivered. Were there any unexpected challenges? I mean, you know the industry, you have connections, theoretically, if it could be made, you would be able to find someone to make it.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:16:32]: Exactly. So we went around. So first of all, when you’re starting your company, for those out there that are, usually you go to a contract manufacturer and you say, “Hey, I really want to start – I have this grandmother’s recipe,” or something, whatever your angle is, and you say, “I want you to create this for me,” and they go through this development process where they show you prototypes of formulas, etcetera. I went around to I don’t know how many contract manufacturers and said, “Hey, we have this thing called an opule. It has a coat and a core on it.” They’d stare at me and think, “We don’t do that. We fill jars and tubes and bottles and we put lids and labels on them and we send them out.” And it’s like we found one person who said, “Oh yeah, we can do that, but you have to build your own separate room for you inside our facility. You have to get your own equipment. You have to train your own people. You have to have your own regulatory affairs person.” He literally said, “Why don’t you just do this yourself?” And so when it comes to true innovation, it’s difficult. The thing is, we are making these opules. We make them 20 minutes away from my house – I’m talking to you from my home. We’ve actually had to hire our own production people and our own production line and get our own equipment. But the thing is, since it is luxury, we’re giving consumers more than your standard filled jar. These are standard and they’re precise, and we have to know how much retinol goes into them, so they’re all weighed. So it’s this precision cosmetics that doesn’t exist, I don’t think, in this world of beauty in the sense that we can give these single dose opules to people.

Kelly Kovack [00:18:04]: No, you know, I’m finding more and more with concepts that are launching that are truly innovative, a lot of it has to do with how things are manufactured, or if it’s personalization, there has to be a vertical component just to be actually truly able to deliver on that. And so I think a lot of people don’t realize what it takes to bring a truly innovative product that doesn’t exist to the market, because very often it requires changing the current supply chains.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:18:35]: It does, and I was saying earlier, before we got on, is that who would be stupid enough to start a new luxury brand in the middle of a pandemic? I guess that’s me. The thing is we have been challenged with, for the activator, supply chain parts and pieces and tariffs and all of those things, and we actually assemble them here in the United States, the parts, of course, come from all over the world, and that’s been a challenge. When you look at the ports, they’re filled with container cars that can’t get unloaded and we’re having to deal with all of those, but we’re making it happen. And I think that’s the key thing: if you too are an entrepreneur, you find workaround ways, you figure out how to make it happen, even if the world is against you.

Kelly Kovack [00:19:23]: Thinkers. Innovators. Experts. Generating ideas for the business of beauty. BeautyMatter has built its reputation as a must-read resource for beauty industry insiders, delivering future-focused insights and actionable solutions. With the speed of innovation and increased competition in the category, access to the right analysis and intelligence is more critical than ever. Make an investment in yourself and unlock a competitive edge with a subscription to BeautyMatter. Head over to BeautyMatter.com to check out our content. And as a listener to our podcast, use the code UNLOCK25 for a 25% discount.

The term innovation gets thrown around so much that I feel like it’s sort of become meaningless, but there are some people that just look at the world differently, and I think you are a true innovator. Launching a pioneering concept is one thing, but commercializing it is sort of something totally different. Can you share a little bit about how you create a culture of innovation in a team to first get buy-in to a team that doesn’t exist, and then how do you propel the idea into a business that scales? Because it really does require a culture.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:20:45]: Right, it does require a culture. And the thing is that historically, I know how teams are formed, and you can either go out and get teams that are young and have very little background in what you’re going to do, and that’s fine if you have time and you have the money.

Kelly Kovack [00:21:02]: You brainwash them.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:21:04]: Basically, yeah. And that’s what a lot of the big companies do, they go to campuses and they find these bright stars and they bring them in and show them their way, right? You can do that, and we’ve done that in the past with other companies I’ve been associated with. But in this case, I wanted a more senior team, people that have been in the beauty industry or worked on production lines and know devices, like the ones we create. And actually, we call this an appliance because it’s not really a device you put on your skin, it’s actually a first cosmetic appliance. But we need to have people who can actually build these small, little miniaturized appliances. I found a team from Clarisonic that had already had experience with me. It didn’t take much convincing, they knew me. Where I have to convince people is when you actually go out to the mix point, commercialization and funding and go out and talk to angel investors and convince them that this idea is going to work. I do have the advantage of people knowing the industry. 

But I think the one thing that anybody out there is creating and taking money from angel investors, you really need to look at it as their money is more important than your money. So I’ll say that again: their money is more important than your money and you have a responsibility not to squander it. It’s one thing if you blow all your money away, but you can’t do that with other people. And the thing is, you’re going to have to go back to those people. People think, oh yeah, angel investors gave me money and it’s over with. Well, no. As you scale up, you’re going to need to have more equipment, you’re going to need to have more people. So you’re going to have to go through several rounds of asking angels to invest in you until the point where you get to go onto the next level, which are banks and VCs etcetera as you get more sales in. 

We’re at the stage that we’re beginning. We have a scrappy little team. They all work very, very hard, and we are creating things that people have never done before, and the fact that we can use our imagination and say, “Hey, let’s create this face mask and let’s make it do this and that and the other,” and people try them and they just get so excited. When you get that excitement, it just sort of feeds on itself and everyone gets around it and everyone wants to try it, and that excitement is what really propels you to get a team that’s solid, people that believe in it and they believe in the concept.

Kelly Kovack [00:23:26]: Is it also important to have a culture in a business like that that sort of allows for failure and to learn from failure?

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:23:36]: Oh, totally. I mean, even with – the advantage of having a senior team is if you see yourselves going down a path, you can immediately say, “Wait a minute, we’ve done this path before in our history, in our past, we can course correct.” But there’s always going to be things that pop up and it’s like, well, this is what the universe has given us and we have to figure out how to get around it. And that’s the fun part. And I know it sounds terrible because let’s say, for example, a part is not able to come in from a country, China, and we can’t get it in in time, where else can we get those parts? Where else can we find a way around that? Is there another vendor somewhere in the world that makes them? And then you have to do your searches and stuff. So yeah, you have to have failure, because the only way your product is going to get better and better and better is by having those little failures that say, okay, I’m going to tweak this differently. That goes for everything: talking to people in the digital space, making sure you’re listening to your customers and they’re giving you feedback and you’re responding to it, to production and making sure that you have a production line that’s efficient and is actually giving you the right units that you need to fulfil your orders and all that stuff. I don’t know if you know this, but we went on Opulus, we launched, and we sold out of our first group and now we’ve got another order coming in, so another group of activators, and so we now have another offer to early adopters because we’re having these waves of products coming in that is also linked to the supply chain and our ability to get parts in. So we’re just making it happen.

Kelly Kovack [00:25:07]: One of the things about white space opportunities that makes them so elusive is that sometimes the difficulty in defining them can be underestimated. You’ve launched a product that literally – there’s no vocabulary for what it is. So what’s your strategy for building the brand and the adoption for the product? I would imagine that this sort of having to sell it in spurts is giving you the ability to learn in a way that you may not have been able to.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:25:35]: It does, and that’s actually a good thing, especially if anybody has ever worked with appliances, they know that there’s always going to be inherent challenges with those, and we can always modify and tweak and figure out ways to correct them as we go forward, it’s just the way it is. But as far as this brand overall, it’s all about education, because as you said, it’s a new vocabulary: what’s an opule? What’s an activator? What’s freshly activated beauty? What’s peak potency? These are all terms that we use internally, we know them really well, but to the consumer, they don’t. And so just like with my other past histories, things that I’ve been associated with, you have to educate. A lot of it has to do with demonstration, which is challenging right now because we can’t actually put it on your skin and show you in a department store, which has also influenced the way we launched the brand because we now have to do a lot more video to the consumers, trying to teach them that way. We’re not going into brick-and-mortar when we first launched, it’s all direct-to-consumer, that’s shifted. We originally were going to go into high-end retail stores. I guess the best thing is that we have to have education and we have to have some validation, and that validation has always come from professionals. We already know that doctors love this, we know estheticians do. So you can see us going forward, we’ll be interacting with them, working with them. And the great thing about having those partnerships is that we can actually create things for those people. I mean, if there’s another brand out there that wanted to associate with us, we could create opules under that brand name and then put it into our activators to give that consumer a different experience. So I think that education and validation through professionals and also research. We actually – I don’t know if you know this, when you create a new technology or a new innovation, you need to first make sure that it’s safe. Safety is the most important thing; if it’s not safe, you can’t use it. So we’ve done safety studies, we’ve done patch test analysis of the different formulations. We know that this product with the retinol and RHR, they’re locked in, they’re beautiful, they do actually give you results, so we know that. But going forward, we’ll always be looking at other ways to measure our products’ efficacy, and that could be everything from absorption into the skin, to looking at before and after images, to consumer preference, all those things we’ll add to, and of course the testimonials from our own consumers, we have to have those. And we’re at the baby stage right now. We’re still just launching, we’re getting feedback. And so as you’ll see us going forward, we’ll have more studies, we’ll have more interactions with the professional world, and we’ll actually hopefully educate the consumer enough that they’ll want to run out and acquire Opulus Beauty Labs.

Kelly Kovack [00:28:19]: Well, you know, one of the things that I find interesting is that with brands that are truly sort of innovating in form or manufacturing, a byproduct of that is almost a secondary business which is a B-to-B arm. So you mentioned that you could produce products for other people. I was recently talking to someone in the UK that’s developed a 3D printing manufacturing process at scale for gummy supplements, and same thing. So there’s the brand and then there’s sort of the manufacturing ability to do it for others. So it’s almost as if you’re building two businesses.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:28:57]: You are, and the challenge with that, getting back to our earlier conversation, is exit strategy. Because what happens is oftentimes, you’ll find that these large corporations, they’ve done something a certain way and they’re not expansible. So now you’re giving them a new process that they have to absorb and modify to fit what they normally do. We’re creating these new – we do have two businesses. We have our actual brand and R&D, but we’re also having the production side. And as far as partnerships with other brands, that’s going to be a given. We’ve done that in our past with other brands and we’ll do the same in the future.

Kelly Kovack [00:29:33]: So you’ve talked about exit strategies a number of times when building brands. So what does success look like for this business? What is your exit strategy?

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:29:42]: So what an exit strategy would look like for Opulus Beauty Labs would be a larger company would acquire us and allow us to do what we do best, which is please our consumers, give them something that excites them, that gives them this thrill again when it comes to cosmetics. I think that’s the thing, cosmetics overall and brands have become sort of mundane, it’s not really anything exciting. When you talk about brick-and-mortar retail, what was exciting about that is the theater that comes with that. Name a retailer, Niemen Marcus, you know, and then everybody gets so excited. Our brand has that every day. We want to create that excitement. And so we want to be able to continue to do that, because that’s the magic formula, this reimagining beauty is what gives us an edge up on the other people that have tubes and bottles and jars, and we want the person that acquires us, the group, to allow us to continue to do that, because that’s what would separate us.

Kelly Kovack [00:30:37]: Yeah. I mean, I can only imagine what this brand would look like in retail. It kind of brings to retail what is so needed, which is kind of an animation and a way to connect with people that goes beyond opening a jar and slapping it on.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:30:54]: Imagine going to a retailer and you have a U-shaped glass counter that someone is standing behind, just like a jewelry case, where this wraps around you. Every so often, it’s divided up into haircare, into skincare, into body care, and you could actually go around and shop and the beautiful person behind the counter would select out your opules and create your own box of customized beauty, wrap it in a beautiful bow, and present it to you as if it’s a very precious gift, which it is, and you would be excited. I mean, I’ve actually had men tell me, “Oh my goodness, you know why I love this product? Because I can just buy a box of these opules for my significant others and I don’t have to worry about it. I could never give her, or him, skincare.”

Kelly Kovack [00:31:41]: Well and it’s also – the thing I love about it is there’s this human connection, right? So like we were talking about, so much of it is based on technology and apps. It’s almost like going into that chocolate store and picking out sort of the dozen truffles that you want. It’s an experience, it’s done with another person, and just that choice, the choice is the personalization. I think we overcomplicate things and throw technology at things that sometimes it’s not necessary.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:32:13]: I agree with you. I think the one thing right now is because of our limitations with brick-and-mortar as far as foot traffic, etcetera, and people, just until recently, didn’t want to go into a store. I think the substitute is the web, our website. In the future, I envision this be a virtual experience where you actually go and shop in the store and you would load up your own virtual box, and then it would be packaged up at our company and it would be sent to you as you wanted. It’ll be fun, I can’t wait. That’s the thing, is it’s exciting. I want to interact with the people, I want to feel that they actually have gotten something that’s totally different out there, it’s truly luxury. It’s something that’s innovative.

Kelly Kovack [00:32:57]: Yeah. I feel like we’re in a period where we have tremendous innovation. I mean, historically, innovation comes as a byproduct of crises. I think the innovation that we’re seeing is really going to reshape the beauty and wellness category in a way that it doesn’t look like what it does today. What excites you most about the current state of the industry?

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:33:19]: Well, as far as our perspective is that there’s consumers out there – they’re the ones that are telling us, “We need an Opulus Beauty Labs.” They’re the ones that are telling us, “We’ve had all of these other big luxury brands, but they’re not giving us what we really want.” And I think what excites us is the consumers. Consumers, they’re more knowledgeable now than they’ve ever been. They know ingredients better than they’ve ever known. They’re willing to try cool things. There’s this whole adventurous group out there. And the bottom line, of course, it always has to be safe. It has to be effective. And as long as you continue to cater to them and hold their hand and make them feel like they’re precious, they will fall in love with your brand, and I think it’s the consumers that really excite me.

Kelly Kovack [00:34:02]: Well, Dr. Robb, thank you so much for sharing this journey with us. And I am so excited to see how this brand unfolds because it’s become more rare where you get a brand that kind of makes you stop and be like, “Wow, I haven’t seen this before,” and then actually deliver on the product, right, because you have to deliver the results, but you’ve definitely achieved that as well. So congratulations.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:34:25]: Thank you, and you haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until you see what we come up with in the future, it’s going to be great.

Kelly Kovack [00:34:33]: I look forward to it.

For Dr. Robb, it’s a matter of intuition. After leaving L’Oréal, Dr. Robb said he started to dream in color again, and he was able to reimagine skincare. He was looking for innovation within the space, but there really wasn’t very much. And then inspiration struck in a fancy Paris chocolate shop. Following his intuition, he built a cohort of industry experts and out-of-the-box thinkers, representing expertise in R&D, science, engineering, manufacturing, education and experience to develop his chocolate shop inspiration into a new way of formulating, manufacturing, and delivering highly efficacious, science-based skincare. Opulus Beauty Labs is the result of deep knowledge and wild imagination that has just begun reinventing high performance beauty. So, in the end, it’s a matter of intuition, and that’s what matters. I’m Kelly Kovack, see you next time.

Dr. Robb Akridge [00:35:35]: Hi, I’m Dr. Robb, and for me, it’s a matter of intuition, and that’s because you have to really listen to your customer and intuitively know what they’re asking for, and at Opulus Beauty Labs, we’ve done that.

Kelly Kovack [00:35:50]: It’s A Matter Of is a production of BeautyMatter LLC. You can find more content and insights on www.BeautyMatter.com and follow us on social media @BeautyMatterOfficial.

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