CA: How did EOS (Evolution Of Smooth) get started?
Sanjiv Mehra: Back in 2007, we began looking at the personal care products market to identify categories that we thought could be opportunities for us. Interestingly, we identified lip balm! We asked ourselves – what does the consumer really need or want in her lip balm? We conducted extensive research and talked with many consumers. We learned that women tend to carry large bags or purses containing many items, and when they reach in it isn’t always obvious by touch which item is their lip balm. They often must search through their bag or even empty it to find a specific item. We thought – why don’t we make a lip balm that is easily identified the moment it’s touched? That led to the innovative round shape with the indent on the side, engineered with a soft-touch material. These details were specifically designed such that the moment you touch them you know what the item is. When you feel it, you know “this is my EOS lip balm”!
CA: You’re located in New York and are expanding in Canada?
Sanjiv Mehra: Correct. When we started, we were a company with only five people. We knew we wanted to expand across North America and had many requests for our product. We aren’t quite ready to set up separate Canadian operations so are currently selling through a third party in Canada. This approach allows us to fast track building relationships with Canadian retailers, maintain control of marketing and stay focused on delighting Canadian consumers.
CA: How many employees do you have now from the five that you started from?
Sanjiv Mehra: We have about 125 employees now with eight offices around the world including in Asia, Europe and Mexico. As I said, we started the business in 2007. We spent all of 2008 developing products. In 2009, we began introducing them to consumers and retailers and launching them into the market. And we continue to grow!
CA: Do you have any other brands other than EOS?
Sanjiv Mehra: We just launched a new cross-category collection called Aqua, available exclusively online. Aqua is a line of lip and skin care products. Included in the range is a lip gloss, lip mask, lip scrub, face mask, face moisturizer and something unique that we call a face prep product. The face prep is an incredible product – it goes on your face with the texture of a cream but then turns into a soft, water-like texture. It leaves your face incredibly soft and smooth and is an excellent base for makeup.
CA: I recently read that EOS sells two million units a week. What do you attribute to your success?
Sanjiv Mehra: The consumer, at the end of the day. The consumer wanted lip care products that were more interesting with more variety, better flavours, and nicer colours. All those things were missing until EOS came along.
CA: Where do you see EOS headed in the future now that you’re growing your product line?
Sanjiv Mehra: Ultimately, our goal is to serve consumers by delighting them with the uniqueness of our brand and the quality and performance of our products. We are in the personal care products space. We have many things that the consumer wants. The brand plans to remain relevant in this space; the question is how consumer habits will evolve and how can we meet their changing needs in a way that remains consistent with our brand.
We have a couple of new things that are lined up for next year that we hope to be able to share with you in the next few months.
CA: What would be a good piece of advice that you can offer some of our smaller start-up members?
Sanjiv Mehra: Many people told us that we would never succeed, but they were wrong. I would tell every start-up out there that if you believe in your products and you believe in what it is that you are trying to do for the consumer, then keep faith in that and never lose focus or sight of your goals.