According to Subtl Beauty founder Rachel Reid, you can’t conquer the beauty industry with a limited shade range.
“We will not grow into the brand that the world needs if we are only offering five shades,” she says.
Today, Subtl, a Pittsburgh beauty start-up, released 14 new shades of concealer, all named after Pittsburgh boroughs, bringing its total amount of concealer shades to 19. The launch comes almost one year after shipping its first products after a successful Kickstarter campaign in September 2018.
Since last year, Subtl hired its first full-time employee, was accepted into the AlphaLab Accelerator program, and moved into a new office. They also boast almost 13,000 Instagram followers and more than 1,000 Facebook likes.
Expansive shade ranges is becoming standard in the beauty industry, where brands are shifting toward more inclusive product lines. For example, Fenty Beauty launched with 40 shades of its Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation. Glossier expanded the shade range of its facial products in February 2019. Tarte followed suit in May, upping the number of Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation options from 25 to 40.
According to Reid, the move was one year in the making, with initial plans to expand its shade range from the beginning. However, Reid says Subtl still has strides to make when it comes to inclusivity.
“When you compare it to the strides that have been made among the companies who are progressing, we are very much behind in that regard” she says. “When people ask, ‘Why are you expanding?’ from a business perspective, it’s an absolute necessity from a consumer perspective.”
Although the naming portion comes last, according to Reid, it’s often one of the most important. Think Nars’ “Orgasm” blush or Two Faced’s “Better than Sex” mascara — two iconic make-up staples with recognizable names.
Reid says that, between timing and branding, the decision to name the shades after Pittsburgh boroughs became clear after a brainstorming session with Subtl’s marketing manager.
“One day we were like, ‘Why are we sitting here trying to come up with these abstract names when we have a community that we want to provide homage, to say thank you to?’” she says.
New shade names come from all over Pittsburgh, from Carrick to Brookline to Bloomfield.
But, amidst the growth, Subtl’s mission remains the same: beauty for busy women on the go, and a customer-first approach to product.
“At the end of the day, we are trying to solve problems for real people and we can’t do that if we aren’t providing our solution in their shade,” Reid Says. “Continuing to build out an inclusive range will remain a priority for us in the months and years to come.”