During lockdown, numerous people lost their jobs, and as a result, several individuals created their businesses and brand start-ups to make ends meet. Specifically, in 2020, there were 31,405 openings for independent units and small businesses. With such a large number of new companies surfacing during the pandemic and still doing so in the present day, it can be challenging for new brands to gain the attention they need and deserve to become successful. To help new beauty start-ups obtain the recognition they require, Lookfantastic has launched its new scholarship program, Fantastic Futures, for emerging talent and independent beauty brands.

Fantastic Futures is an initiative dedicated to supporting niche start-ups by providing an opportunity to boost their business and join a portfolio of over 600 beauty brands. Lookfantastic will work alongside The Hut Group  (THG), to deliver the program. Last year, THG  launched its group-wide strategy for a better, more sustainable future, THG x Planet Earth, pledging to use its worldwide brands to act as a force for good in the drive towards sustainable development in the beauty industry.

“We are looking for brands that are innovating, disrupting, and shaping the beauty market for the better. We’re looking for pioneering takes on products that go beyond the conventional. Presently, multi-use formulas are in high demand and sustainable, cruelty-free, and vegan products across all categories are becoming more sought-after essentials for our customer base, with consumer demand growing in these areas,” says Keely Gough, General Manager at Lookfantastic.

Once applications have been submitted, a panel of beauty experts will review entries. All shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch their ideas to a team at Lookfantastic in person. Gough continues, “Starting a new business can be difficult and Fantastic Futures is designed to give budding brands a head start in the industry, opening up opportunities to those who are not currently in retail, especially startups. Whether a brand has recently launched or has limited distribution and wants to expand their reach, we want to support founders with brand exposure to grow, support and strengthen their business.”

Once the shortlisted brands have been presented to the in-person team, one successful applicant will receive an exclusive marketing package, including prime location presence on the Lookfantastic website, PR, access to key events, sampling initiatives, and communications across the Lookfantastic database, putting them in front of the eyeballs of millions of consumers worldwide.

The first brand launching as part of Fantastic Futures this July is refillable beauty brand Fiils, which initially launched in 2020. The brand was founded by Anna Priadka, a makeup artist of 15 years who has worked alongside Charlotte Tilbury and Luca Peroni, who later transitioned into a global role for product development at Nars.

“I am so excited to launch Fiils as the first brand on the Fantastic Futures platform, championing sustainable beauty and encouraging more conscious consumerism. When I started Fiils, my aim was to overhaul bathrooms of single use plastic and minimize waste while offering a luxe range of refillable, everyday essentials that are made with the best ethical, natural and organic ingredients. I am really looking forward to being able to bring our ‘refills not landfill’ ethos to Lookfantastic customers around the globe,” says Priadka.

Alongside sustainability, Lookfantastic has also reported increased demand in the body care category. With the onset of summer holidays, the demand for SPF products continues to rise, also spotlighting a change in preferred tanning formats, with searches for gradual tan up +40%.* It seems now is the best time for those considering starting body care–based brands to move into the beauty industry through initiatives such as Fantastic Futures.

Rachel Horsefield, CEO at THG Beauty, comments on the release of Fantastic Futures: “Fantastic Futures is devoted to bringing independent beauty brands to the forefront, offering them pride of place amongst some of the strongest beauty players in the industry. It is our mission at Lookfantastic to provide our millions of global consumers with solutions to their beauty needs.”

She continues, “Not only are we able to offer a leading global retail platform, but by using THG’s end-to-end direct-to-consumer eCommerce solution, THG Ingenuity, we can also support product development, manufacturing, marketing and 360-support of a brand’s own digital strategy. We’re inviting fresh new talent to become part of Lookfantastic’s portfolio and join us on our ever-evolving journey in shaping the discourse of beauty.”

Applications for Fantastic Futures can be submitted twice yearly, in October for an April launch and February for an August launch.

*Search data period includes the last five weeks vs the same time last year.

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