Ever heard of probiotics? The little fellas (microorganisms) that are introduced into the body for their beneficial qualities? Well, what if you could now use them on your skin for a healthier, glowing feel? Founded by Dr. Raj but run (like a boss) by CEO, Julia Straus, Tula is a probiotic skincare brand that fights wrinkles, dryness and basically all your personal skin wars.
In an age where the personal care market is highly crowded, Dr. Raj, a gastroenterologist, saw a trend in medicine and the benefits of using probiotics for topical use and not just ingestion purposes. With products ranging from face cleansers, masks to hydrating creams, Tula is sold on QVC, at 12 doors of SpaceNK and through their own website.
Although Tula wasn’t founded by Julia Straus, her involvement with the company as CEO has helped scale it faster. This may be due to her always-on attitude, passion to make a difference in customers’ life and constant efforts to promote clean beauty. Whatever it is, we’re loving it!
“Growing up, to me, there was never an office. It was always my parents doing their own thing.”
Julia was born to entrepreneurial parents, one worked in the basement and the other on the top floor of their home. It’s safe to say that growing up, Julia was taught that “doing your own thing” was normal. Her first gig as a child was selling her own art at art sales; however, she wasn’t sure who would be buying it back then. “Entrepreneurship is very stressful and my parents hoped I would do something more predictable. They loved working for themselves but felt like security came with a corporate job.”
Following this advice, Julia enrolled at Princeton University and graduated in 2005 with a History major and an Art minor. While there, Julia “drank up liberal arts with almost 12 varied courses and truly explored different subject areas.” Post-graduation, she worked in finance at Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs, before pursuing her MBA at Harvard Business School. Her goal? To enter the startup world and potentially work for a smaller firm. She eventually ended up at PopSugar and later, BaubleBar as Director of Partnerships.
Two’s a company, Three’s an opportunity
BaubleBar at the time of Julia’s tenure was a 20-people company, Tula on the other hand was being virtually operated by three founders. So, how did Julia move from creating cool celebrity partnerships for BaubleBar to running a skincare company? “I had hit a plateau at BaubleBar and through a mutual friend was introduced to Dan Reich, who was helping me bring BaubleBar on QVC. He told me about Tula over a phone call and at the end of the call, I asked if I could meet him.”
Tula’s three founders included Dan Reich, who had another company, Dr. Raj, a practicing doctor, and Ken Landis. However, they needed someone to run the show. As Julia recalls, “I am so thankful to them for trusting someone who had no experience in beauty. They believed in my well-rounded background and saw my motivation in going to the very beginning of a startup.” Well, it has paid off as Tula is doing extremely well via QVC and its ecommerce platform, becoming a favorite for women in their 20s-30s, who see Tula as their first step towards a more serious skincare regime.
“Skincare is harder than fashion because you see an image and you can picture yourself in it but with skincare, you need to touch, smell and feel it.”
Starting a cosmetic line is relatively easy; however, Julia reminds us how many cosmetic lines have kept their integrity of starting with one product and built a strong foundation based on that product. “Our approach to formulation is to be clean, simple and clinically effective. We do a lot of regulatory testing but there is no animal testing or parabens.”
Tula is effective not just your skin, but also the microbiome that lives outside on the skin. “There is more bacteria in you than human cells. Literally, 90% of your body is made up of bacteria. The more that you learn about the surface of the skin, the more you understand that whatever you’re using on top of it can really affect the full ecosystem.” That’s where Tula comes in!
The Name Game
Tula means balance in Sanskrit and was the perfect encapsulation of how the brand is creating a balanced ecosystem for your skin. Plus, the lifestyle aspect helps women define and find their balance in personal care and an overall balance in their lives. Complementing to this philosophy, the logo is a visual of a lotus, as a peaceful flower, representing this balance.
With skincare, content is king and education is key! Tula’s success can be attributed to before and after videos with a very modern approach to selling products. Surprisingly, their model is a re-interpretation of teleshopping, with the same principles of direct-to-consumer communication. “Our approach is similar to that of QVC. People think home shopping is not glamorous but it’s a $12 billion organization. We are literally translating their proven techniques/dialogue on YouTube and through live stories on Instagram and Snapchat. We love that we have two separate customer bases but we talk to them in a very similar manner, one on TV and one on Instagram.”
Julia faced the challenge of differentiating Tula in a highly-saturated market. Besides having the reputation of being on QVC, other marketing tools that have worked for Tula include WOM, engagement with bloggers/influencers, and strategic partnerships with PopSugar, Physique57, and Health Magazine.
As a successful CEO, Tula says that it is helpful to be well-rounded but to also have deep experiences in certain areas, but most importantly, be empathetic, resilient, and focused. A few other tidbits that she has learned along the way:
- Start small and build from strength. Bobbi Brown started with 10 lipsticks and one door! To scale, you want to build from a place where you know what you’re doing is resonating.
- Live and love the details, the nitty-gritty and get into the weeds of everything as a CEO. The more you know, the more you can appreciate all the work that goes into every part of building a company from the ground up.
Interested in taking your skincare to the next level? Shop Tula today (our favorite is the Hydrating Day & Night Cream) using promo code: RADICHE for 20% off entire site (+ free shipping on orders $30+). Hurry, you only have till September 1, 2017.
Photo courtesy of Tula.