Growing Your Own Brand in the Beauty Industry with Brittany Gray, Founder & CEO of Fancy Face - STYLE Canada

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On this week’s Let’s Talk About… episode, Elise sits down with Brittany Gray, founder and CEO of Fancy Face.

Fancy Face has fast become Canada’s most prestigious beauty brand. Providing upscale in-home, on-site, or in-store hair and makeup services, clients leave feeling exquisitely beautiful for any occasion. Fancy Face also has an amazing cosmetic & skincare line that women to live out the daily mantra “fancy is a feeling”, by making Fancy Face products a part of their daily beauty routine.

Elise and Brittany talk about the story behind Fancy Face, the launch of the product line, marketing a business outside of social media, and growing in the beauty industry.

“I certainly don’t feel like our social media just took off. It’s been work, really, that’s gone into it, and I still feel like there’s so much growing to do. But, what I love to do is always focus on providing value to those people that are paying attention and not worry about the numbers, because whether you have 1 follower or 2 million followers, it’s really about the value that you’re providing for that person that cares enough about your brand to watch what you’re doing.” Brittany tells Elise on Let’s Talk About.

Check out Brittany’s products at our ‘the edit’ summer pop-up in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Our chic general store located at 1-233 King Street in NOTL, is open everything Thursday to Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. https://www.fancyface.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/fancy-face-mink-lashes3.jpg

Source: Fancy Face

Check out the show transcript below.


[00:00:00] Elise: Hi everyone. And welcome this week. We’re speaking with Brittany Gray, founder of Fancy Face. Hi Britt. Thanks so much for being with us. 

[00:00:07] Brittany: Thank you so much for having me. This is truly an honor. 

[00:00:11] Elise: Yeah. I was just saying before we started, I feel we started the podcast now actually over 50 episodes ago and I’ve wanted to wow.

Which is crazy. I know crazy the other day. And we’re like, oh wow. This is, we’ve been, we’ve been doing a few episodes here and I’ve wanted to have you on at, and like probably last August, I think 

[00:00:31] Brittany: Oh yeah. 

[00:00:32] Elise: I’m excited that we finally could, could do this and sit down and chat. I think you have such a great story and obviously such a successful product line, now, and even a, you know, great service business before that we wanna chat all about today and excited to also have Fancy Face at the popup.

So we’re in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the month of August at 233 king street, the product’s been doing great specifically the strawberry lip bath. I think it’s 

[00:00:58] Brittany: Yea I love that. 

[00:00:59] Elise: I love, I love the strawberry lip bath so much. 

[00:01:03] Brittany: You’re speaking to it. Maybe 

[00:01:04] Elise: Really people are really getting behind the strawberry lip bath.

[00:01:08] Brittany: Oh my God. I love that. It’s one of my favorites. So I’m happy to hear that. 

[00:01:11] Elise: Yeah, it’s a great product, but let’s start before, well the product line to fancy faces a little newer. Yes. Let’s start before that. Your journey begins way before that. So tell us a little bit about yourself and, and how Fancy Fance came to be.

[00:01:26] Brittany: All right. Well, it happened a long time ago. We’ve been in business now for 16 years. So, um, fancy face really started, on the floor of my parents’ house, in the den. Uh, and I was just playing with makeup and I, I had always had this intense passion for beauty. Cosmetics, the smell of cosmetics, the packaging of cosmetics, but also found that I had a real knack for doing makeup too.

But at the time, at 20 years old, I already had for a good five years of professional career in performing arts. So I’d grown up a dancer, um, a dancer singer actor, all professionally trained, um, and, found myself quite lucky right out of high school actually before I even graduated high school, um, being in the movie, Chicago as a dancer on camera next to Catherine Zeta-Jones

[00:02:15] Elise: So cool! 

[00:02:15] Brittany: And Renee Zellweger, which was really cool. And Richard Gere

Very cool! 

Which was amazing. And, and it kind of just, uh, blossomed into, this wonderful career that I had always wanted. You know, being that sort of Broadway performer and also TV and film actress. Um, and you know, the, a lot of wonderful things happened after that. But throughout that journey, I had this crazy passion for makeup, um, with really no intention of ever going to business school, being an entrepreneur. However, I did have a really sort of business savvy father, um, and grew up in his library, reading his books. Um, and so I really got this amazing education without even noticing it.

It’s kind of amazing how your life, you really look back and you’re like, oh, that’s why all that happened. 

[00:03:03] Elise: Right.

[00:03:03] Brittany: But like you can see it later down the road. Mm-hmm um, so anyways, I launched the company fancy face, um, back in 2006, my sort of dream at the time was to create a team that would go to people’s houses and get them ready for events.

So, because I was working with a lot of celebrities, I love that kind of like celebrity treatment idea of, you know, just being pampered in the comfort of your own home. 

[00:03:25] Elise: The average person doesn’t get glam, right? No, like in a, in a regular day. Yeah. 

[00:03:29] Brittany: And that was not a thing back in 2006, it wasn’t a thing to have a team show up at your door.

You went to a salon, right. And then you went to, you know, a department store, got your makeup done. So anyways, we, we developed the team, and I was performing eight shows a week. At the time I was in a MEV production. I would do weddings on the weekends before my two show day. Um, and then I.

[00:03:49] Elise: Wow. 

[00:03:49] Brittany: I also developed this team to help me with all of the bookings coming in.

Mm-hmm. Fast forward to right before the pandemic, we had built this, um, amazing following of, of women that just wanted to look and feel their best and they were hungry for a cosmetic line that wasn’t so overwhelming. They were, you know, women were going into these department stores. Felt lost. Didn’t know what to do.

No one was educating them on what to use. So it just felt like a really good time to start developing cosmetics, uh, because we had that trust with our following mm-hmm and, and then we launched our cosmetic line without knowing that the pandemic was gonna happen right before the pandemic. It was when it launched and it was, and I’m so thankful.

It was such beautiful timing because we would’ve gone under, like, I mean, our service side of our business, we did about 500 weddings a year that kept. Alive. Mm-hmm, all kind of shut down mm-hmm and, um, and it was really a time to pivot and just so grateful to our community for really just being ready for what we had to offer.

[00:04:51] Elise: Perfect timing of the universe. I feel like in so many of these conversations I’m having with founders, it’s literally like. Some sort of, you know, something happens and, and the timing kind of all aligns to make something grow or, or beautiful happen out of that. Right. Which is your specific story is crazy with that because you’re right.

[00:05:10] Brittany: Yes!

[00:05:10] Elise: This whole part of your business, would’ve not existed and thankful that you had this product line. And also even like, in some ways, like the simplified product line, right? Like you said, like, yes, you would, it wasn’t necessarily. All about. Um, and I don’t wanna take the words like the, the products I love from fancy face are ones that I would use at home on a regular day.

It didn’t have to just be like, I’m going to a gala, right? Yeah. Like whether it’s the eye masks or like the, the serums, like, so in that aspect too, it kind of is a little serendipitous and that, you know, all your money wasn’t behind like color or something. Right. 

[00:05:50] Brittany: The opposite. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Very cool.

Well, it’s funny too, cuz I I’m a mom of two, so I have an, um, you know, a four year old and an almost six year old. So at the time I was feeling tired and I wanted things that would make me feel my fanciest really quick. Um, and I appreciated that. So it was a good time to start developing products. Cause I think if I started developing products when I was in my early twenties, I don’t think I would’ve really been thinking about that girl.

Mm-hmm and like a busy business woman that doesn’t have much time on her hands. Mm-hmm . So, so, I mean, yes, our service side is, you know, the fanciest hair and makeup you could ever want for an event. But our product line is really like those star players in each category that are really simple and easy to use so that you can feel like your fanciest self on an everyday basis.

Mm-hmm . Yeah.

[00:06:35] Elise: I love that. Yeah. And I, I also love, like, I feel like when, and I think you, and I might have talked about this, about this the first time I met you, but my first experience with makeup was as like a little girl at dance recital, right? Yeah. Like that’s kind of, and that’s, it sounds like where you kind of got your start with like the stage makeup and that, right?

Yeah. Like in playing around with it. And I think, you know, and then you go to the service side and so many people that come into the store, actually, lots of people have heard of the brand in general. They haven’t maybe seen the product, literally, like this happened the other day. Someone’s like, oh, they did my friend’s wedding makeup.

Or like literally a lot of people know, know you from the service side as well. So can we talk a little. About, cause I think in follow up to that, you’ve done an amazing job building community. So how, like in an age that is so constant with contact. Yeah. And maybe you had a great, you would’ve had a great base.

You’ve been in business forever, right? Like this is not, you don’t just get this community, right. It wasn’t like, oh, here we are Instagram. We have it. Like you, you put the time in. So tell us, take us a little bit about that process though. And whether, you know, how it moved from like a physical one on one to how you connected digitally with people too.

[00:07:49] Brittany: Yeah. I mean, I think it it’s one of those things. That’s funny that, that our team was just talking about this over breakfast. Like I mentioned, um, prior to, to this call, um, we were talking about how, growing that community, it’s like one person at a time you hear about all these stories that people just.

Blowing up on social media and it makes entrepreneurs and people that are grinding and that have a lot of grit feel like, oh, wait, if it’s not happening to me overnight, I must not be doing it. Right. Or maybe I’m not relevant enough. Or, you know, so I, I would like to say to everyone that’s listening, that that has a dream and a goal, um, that this, I mean, this took 16 years. Uh, it started with, you know, doing one person’s makeup, that person telling someone else, her telling a friend, you know, and, and social media, like you said, was not a thing back when mm-hmm . Um, you know, I started, so it was word of mouth for many years. And then the growth on social media has also been a slow climb for us. It’s been, I mean, I certainly don’t feel like our social media just took off. It’s been, you know, Um, work really mm-hmm , that’s gone into it and, and I still feel like there’s so much growing to do, but what I love to do is always focus on providing value to those people that are paying attention and not worry about the numbers, because whether you have one follower or you know, 2 million followers. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s really about the value that you’re providing for that person that cares enough about your brand to watch what you’re doing. Mm-hmm mm-hmm 

[00:09:16] Elise: yeah. It’s, that’s very true. And I think that I was actually just having this conversation. I had friends down this weekend and we were talking about how prop, probably that generation, that younger generation does think you just build these things overnight and you have that, that quick moment, but it was definitely, I mean, since 2006, a, a journey for you in a, yeah. You know, some time and same, same on my end. Like, I feel like my friends see things getting sent to us on the style Canada side.

I’m like, no, no, no, everyone, this has been going on for like, we’re almost at a decade, like yeah, where this isn’t just like, you know, you throw up an account and, and things happen. No, So that’s interesting really? Doesn’t to hear. Yeah. But, 

[00:09:54] Brittany: and, and you’re looking to sustain yourself. Like for me, I love my job.

I couldn’t picture doing anything else. So it’s really like the, the focus is being able to do this for a long time. Um, yeah. You know, to be able to, to, to provide value for a long time. So it’s not that overnight. You wouldn’t want that anyways? I don’t think, yeah. Yeah. It could be too much too fast. 

[00:10:15] Elise: Yeah, well, and what do you have, so talking a little bit about that, that product piece, and, you know, you touched on a little bit about how you went about designing the product line.

What are some of your favorites from that aspect? We, you and I talked a little offline about a few favorites, but yeah. What, what are some favs of yours? 

[00:10:34] Brittany: So I love a lot. Um, the skincare I can’t live without, um, I I’ve always been a skincare junkie. I mean, I grew up with a mom, really, my passion for makeup also comes from my mother.

I should touch on that. Okay. She’s like, yeah, this, this woman that had a lot of trials and tribulations, in her life and, making herself feel good through hair and makeup fashion, really like helped define a part of who she was. Saw that in her mm-hmm so it also inspired me. Um, mm-hmm and she really taught me, I think at 10 years old, I had a skincare routine.

[00:11:06] Elise: Oh, wow!

[00:11:06] Brittany: It was, yeah. I mean a basic one, but still one. Um, and now that I have a daughter too, I’m like, like you really do have, I was gonna skin of your skin, a young. Yeah. Well, I think, I think if you care, they’ll learn to care, you know, mm-hmm, , mm-hmm um, and which is what happened with, uh, my mother and I, so anyways, we’ve tried every product under the sun and developing the skincare, um, you know, and especially having her, you know, test and try everything.

She’s gonna be 65 this year. So I really cared about it working for not only twenties and thirties, but also mm-hmm , you know, 65 plus I want it to work for everybody. Mm-hmm um, so. I would say that’s number one, poetry and potion and daydream for sure. Um, the supermodel lip bath. I, I, I feel like it’s just so unique in, in the packaging and also what the formula does.

So that definitely our, I have to mention our flawless powder because you know, that that was a product, our first product that really went viral. Um, and we’ve never had that happen to us before. It felt like a pretty big deal when it, when a lot of people started noticing it. So I’d say that one, perk up our dark circle, corrector pen. That’s um, got that like pink to it. Major. Love it. 

[00:12:16] Elise: I, it sounds like I’ve tried that. I feel like I need to try that. Okay. 

[00:12:18] Brittany: Good to know. Yeah. That, that one, that one really changes the under eye. It takes it from looking sort of dark tired, Dr. Um, to just looking like you had, you know, five, 15 hours of sleep in five seconds.

[00:12:29] Elise: Okay. Well, I love that yeah. 

[00:12:32] Brittany: Yeah. And, uh, I would say our, our Coca lip licks are also pretty fun. Um, they, they’re just a great everyday, like, you know, quick tint on the lips that feel really fancy and Luxe. 

[00:12:44] Elise: And, um, what, so those are all kind of all your favorites. What goes into making those products though, right?

Like what, because you would’ve, I would imagine, well, I would think, uh, like in your role as a makeup artist, and also in your role in film, like you would’ve had tried a million products. So if there’s someone that should, could, and should be developing these, it very much makes sense. Someone in your role.

Right. Right. But then, so you have an idea of what works competitively and maybe what you would tweak. And then what happens though? Like where do you go to produce these things? Like what’s the journey there 

[00:13:19] Brittany: well, I mean, sourcing the right manufacturer takes a lot of, a lot of work and, um, you don’t find that overnight.

And then once you do it still, it still takes a ton of iterations because, you know, they really need to hear what you want. And then, and then also during COVID, it was incredibly challenging because prior to you’d be able to go to the lab, you’d be able to see how these things are put together.

Um, you know, see how the different formulas work feel one. No, I don’t like that. Tweak this. Let me feel that again. Okay. Like you just have more flex. Ability cuz you’re there mm-hmm but waiting for the ITER iterations throughout COVID, you’d have to wait a while, um, to get those, you know, sent to you, try again, send it back, fix it, you know, it just takes forever.

Mm-hmm uh, right now we’re working on a really exciting product. Um, I will tell you that it’s, it’s an eye serum. And, , It’s been a really long time coming. I mean, we’ve worked on it for months and it’s still a couple months away. So, so these things don’t happen overnight, but they’re worth it.

Like they’re worth it. Um, when you get it right. 

[00:14:21] Elise: Well, I remember, um, and I wasn’t so involved in the, by no means in the beauty. Uh, in terms of coming up with the formulas of when I was at Burberry, but I remember just how far out mm-hmm like fashion had to be planned far out, but beauty was planned out like years in advance of when a launch would happen.

Right. And I dunno, people have an appreciation for that. So much, but I, 

[00:14:42] Brittany: I don’t, I don’t think they quite understand it. The other thing too is when you’re, when you’re making products, you also have to be aware of the fact that the trends change. So you almost have to be ahead of the curve. Like, what are people gonna want, you know, a year from now.

Right. And is it gonna be relevant still? Is it not, is it gonna be trending? I, I kind of try to stay away from trends and more like what actually delivers results. What makes me look and feel my best. Yeah. Because I think that that, that in and of itself is gonna be timeless, you know, mm-hmm. 

[00:15:07] Elise: And I feel like what I love.

So there’s the product itself, right. That you’re developing, but there’s the packaging that I feel like you all do a wonderful job and then not only the packaging, but the branding on top of that. And whether it’s like, when I think of like the, the poetry serum, right? Like the little gold freckles in it, mm-hmm or like the daydream cream and how you have the little scoop, the lip bath, how sometimes people with the lip bath are like, well, do I just like put on my finger?

I’m like, no, no, Hold on you drew all this down and it becomes, well, the packaging that you have, like becomes an experience, even the fact that it’s called the lip bath, right. Like, yeah. I hadn’t heard that terminology before. Right. So what is that like all your thought process and like how you yeah. Yeah.

You’re like, yeah. It’s all. It’s all. 

[00:15:54] Brittany: Yeah. Well, I mean, we have an incredible team. I also wanna put that out there. Sure. I mean, I have, I have incredible women working alongside me. Um, But it’s always been my dream to, because products are so whimsical and fun and romantic to me. I, I know that sounds crazy, but no, it’s, I wanna give that experience to other women because I get that excited.

And if there’s not those little nuances that feel really elegant and elevated, then I’m like, I, I, I don’t want it. Like, I, I want to feel special when I’m using it. I mean, we all, like for me, I I’m sort of grinding from morning to night, like with my kids and my work and you never get a second for yourself.

So, but I have to put on my skincare every day and because I know the importance of that. So if I have those little moments where I feel like I’m really pampering myself, it it’s exciting. So I love, and it’s funny cause I didn’t go to business school. I didn’t go to school for marketing. I didn’t go to school for branding.

A lot of this is just intuition. It’s like, what do I love? And what do I think other women are gonna love? And because we’re tapped into our community too, it just helps create like, I, I have sort of like shivers, even thinking about it. Like it’s, it, it, it, I feel like it comes from. You know how people talk about like the universe or source or whatever you think it is.

Yeah. Like it’s inspiration where it all comes from. 

[00:17:11] Elise: Yeah. Yeah. And that is one of the positives right. Of the social media and the community that you’ve built too, is like, I’m sure there’s conversations that are happening that allow you to think of something in a slightly different way, etcetera. But. You know, after so many, so many years in this business, now this, this next kind of stage of product, like, what would you say?

I feel like you’ve accomplished a lot. Like, what are you the most proud of? What feels like, you know, and did you have those moments that you were like, those milestones where you were like, okay, that was amazing. Like never thought I would’ve done that. I feel like as entrepreneurs, we often don’t look. On what kind of those, like things were, so what were some of those things for you in the course of like the past 16 years?

No pressure on that question. 

[00:17:53] Brittany: Uh well, I never, I never thought that I would own a store. Like I own a storefront. I never thought that I would have like a brick and mortar location. That was never an intention.

[00:18:03] Elise: Which is beautiful by the way. 

[00:18:05] Brittany: Thank you. It’s to be honest with you, it was like a decrepit seventies, pharmacy.

When I took it over. So even the renovation pro-like of, of the space itself was really exciting. And to see that all come to fruition, um, was, was wonderful. That was definitely a, a big deal. The, uh, it’s funny, cuz when I talk to my, my high school girlfriends, they, they say that I always said I was gonna have my own beauty line.

I don’t remember saying that. But um, you know, having, having my own beauty line is pretty exciting and also like who am I to have my own beauty line? There’s, you know, um, you know, Big VCs that, you know, sort of do this kind of stuff. And, and, and I often there are, there are moments where I think to myself, Who am I to do this?

I mean, I’ve, self-funded this whole thing. There’s people out there that have, you know, endless capital to build beauty brands. Like they should be doing it. But I think, I think it’s cool to build something, especially for the younger generations to figure out that they, they don’t need to, to necessarily come from, you know, tons of money to produce a brand that they’re, that they can, you make revenue from and sink money back into and grow it. Mm-hmm um, and so, so the, I feel like that means something, 

[00:19:19] Elise: you know? Oh my gosh. Yeah. I was gonna say, I think you’re absolutely the person to be building something like this, like the amount of experience, et cetera, but to your point, like, The resources, you know, are tough to a tough thing to come by.

And so there’s definitely a creativeness that goes along with that, right? Like how, yeah. How do I make this happen with the limited resources? Yeah. But oftentimes I feel like sometimes those are the most successful businesses, right? Because their leader is able to be like, okay, no, let’s do this in this way.

This is a little more cost effective. This has a little less human resources attached to it or human capital. And so, yeah, I mean, but kudos, cuz you’re right. I’m sure a makeup and a beauty product line is not cheap to be starting and a lot of resources. . 

[00:20:06] Brittany: Yeah. And the thing that’s crazy too, is like, as a, as a, a small business with manufacturers, you’re buying your lots.

Like when we’re part, when we’re, basically, you know, selling something, we have all of our inventory paid for, you have to mm-hmm like they won’t even, they won’t even. Look at you, if you don’t mm-hmm so, so that kind of stuff is really, really, you know, daunting as a small business, but, um, but also exciting because you’re, you’re putting a lot on the line for what you believe in mm-hmm um, and, and to see your community be like, yeah, we like this too.

And they’re, they’re helping us grow this thing together with them. So mm-hmm so that is all that is all a whole lot of. 

[00:20:43] Elise: That’s so cool. And, you know, you mentioned a couple things that I think have made you successful the community, you mentioned your team and, and those that you kind of surround yourself with.

Yeah. Is there any other, you know, tips or, or things I guess that you really kind of looked for when you were growing this business to make yourself successful? Whether it was team, whether it was I’m sure a lot of it was just drive within yourself too. 

[00:21:07] Brittany: yeah. I, I, I definitely that drive and there’s times where I’m like, where is this drive coming from?

Because it, it feels outside of yourself at times. Definitely our team, they’re remarkable. And. I would say I’m motivated by other women that I’ve seen do it too. So like for example, the Sarah Blakelys of the world, the, um, you know, sort of Estee LS of the world who apparently I was just reading a book she’s from Woodbridge, Ontario. It’s crazy.

[00:21:36] Elise: Really? 

[00:21:36] Brittany: She was, yeah. Yeah. 

Oh!

Yeah, I just double check that I’m like literally reading the book right now. um, oh, Elizabeth Arden. Sorry. They were competitors. I should but like kind of cool. And, and again, like came from nothing and built this, built this brand because they believed in the power of making women feel better.

So to know that you’re sort of like those people have paved the way paved the way for you, and that you’re able to continue on that legacy is like, I think that’s what drives me is as if other women can do it. And they started from nothing and had no, no, you know, sort of business education. And they went from their gut and, and they did what they believed in.

Then I can do it too. 

[00:22:16] Elise: I love that. I feel like in like 20 years, we’ll be having this conversation with one of your children about how they took it to the next level and how this legacy keeps building and fancy faces like the next Elizabeth Arden from like Toronto, Ontario. 

[00:22:30] Brittany: Oh my god. From your mouth to God’s ears.

[00:22:33] Elise: Well this is so nice chatting with you. I so appreciate you taking the time. You’re always like, just such a pleasure to, to talk with. And actually I have to. Another thing is anyone that’s come in the store and that’s met, you has like loved your energy. Your passion is so evident. So like people have commented on that often actually, which is I’m sure.

Just that’s wonderful. Something nice to share with you. You have such a positive plate about you and how you’re building this brand. So thank you for being here so much. 

[00:23:00] Brittany: Thank you for having me. It was so much fun. Your energy is also incredible. So you bring that out in others. So thank you for that. 

[00:23:06] Elise: Oh, that’s really sweet. That’s really sweet. Well, thanks Britt it was nice chatting with you. 

[00:23:10] Brittany: Yeah. Nice chatting with you too. 

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