A Beautiful Business
This entrepreneurial pair were inspired by celebs, and now they sell their specialty makeup to them.
Company description: Manufacturer of specialty makeup and body creams
Founders: Christina Bartolucci, 39, and Laura DeLuisa, 37
Location: Glendale, California
Projected 2004 sales: $5 million
Behind the Scenes: Cristina Bartolucci and Laura DeLuisa met and found their inspiration in the trenches, doing makeup and hair on movie sets. "An actress would come in [with puffy eyes] in the morning and have to look perfect at 7 a.m.," says Bartolucci. "We would pack [her] eyes with gauze soaked with ice water, which was uncomfortable and messy." To solve the problem, the pair invented their first product, I gels, in 1999. Today, signature products like Lip Venom lip gloss and Revolotion body makeup are popular with fans including Jennifer Aniston and Kelly Ripa.
Loose Lips: "When [we] first started the company, I was doing graphics in a copy store, and this kid came up to me and said, 'DuWop? What a great name. Is it registered?' I said, 'I don't think so,' and he said, 'Let me register it for you,'" says Bartolucci. "In front of me, in the store, he went online and registered, and stole our name. It took us three years and a lawsuit to get it back. So now, no matter how excited I am, I take a deep breath and think 'Is silence the best response here?'"
Rein It In: After distribution of DuWop products exploded thanks to a zealous sales rep, Bartolucci and DeLuisa realized they didn't want to be a mass-market brand. They scaled back distribution and now offer their products in specialty boutiques, such as Henri Bendel and Fred Segal, as well as upscale retailers Nordstrom and Sephora. The pair hopes the new strategy, combined with a full line of products now in development, will take DuWop to more than $10 million in sales in the next three years.