Investor Nicole Quinn, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, has funded many brands throughout the years and Haus Beauty is one of them! During an interview with Marie-Claire she talks about how the new beauty-brand Gott started and what its like to work with the one and only Lady Gaga!
Marie Claire: You were involved in Haus from the ground-up. How did this brand come about?
Nicole Quinn: We had been looking into the beauty space for about two years. For us, beauty is such an exciting category. From an investor standpoint, it has a high repeat rate, high margins, high customer love, huge virality associated with it. We love the fact that customers will take selfies of themselves and share it out to all of their followers.
We went about trying to find the very best beauty company that we could, meeting so many companies. We found that many beauty businesses were about fitting in. And then we met Gaga, and Haus was all about standing out. Really thinking outside the box, coloring outside the lines.
MC: What was that first meeting with Lady Gaga like?
NQ: It was probably two years ago when we first heard about Lady Gaga’s passion for beauty, which we heard from her agency. I had spoken to different people on her team, and I was sitting down with her manager at a coffee shop, and it was meant to be just him and me. And then I hear, “Surprise!” and I turn around and Gaga’s there, wearing a little black tank top and shorts. Halfway through the meeting, she says, “I’ve actually been experimenting with some things. Let me run back to my car and show you.” Everybody else at the coffee shop is like, “Is that Gaga?”
I could just see in that first meeting her determination and passion for beauty. She was like, “Okay, this is what I want to do. This is how I plan on doing it.” Any question marks I had around, Will she have time to do this? were squashed because I could see that she’s somebody who would really give this the time, attention, and focus that it needed.
MC: What surprised you about working with Lady Gaga?
NQ: I always knew that she was a star and an artist. What totally surprised me was the business acumen that she has. She’s fiercely intelligent. She understands exactly who her customer fanbase is and what they want. At the beginning, she was like, “Okay, this is the first time I’ve seen a P&L [the profit and loss statement, a financial document that tracks revenue and costs].” Within two board meetings, she was like, “Okay, can we discuss this point on the P&L?” If she sets her mind to something like understanding the finances, she does it. That’s something that really surprised me and continues to.
She genuinely came from a place of being an entrepreneur, being a founder. She’ll be up to 4 a.m. working on this and sending selfies of the work she’s doing. She’s half passed out on the floor, but still etching designs. There is no color that has been chosen without her, designed without her. She chose every model and did the brand video.
I love the way she did the video. Usually, when she does a music video, she’ll be working with a big budget. This was a small fraction of [the amount] she would usually have. She said, “I’m gonna make this work.” Towards the end of filming, her manager says, “Hey, we’re over time.” She gets the last bit and then says, “Everybody leave. We can’t go over budgets. I’ll pack up.” She has that scrappy founder mentality.
MC: Were there any challenges or roadblocks to getting Haus off the ground?
NQ: Hiring was no small feat. Before we invested, we spoke to Gaga about what she wanted from a team and she said to us, “I’m the chairwoman. I’m the chief creative officer. But I know what I don’t know, and we need to hire the very, very best people for that.” Gaga and I met multiple different people, and there was a period where Gaga was like, “No, not that person. Not that person. Nope, they don’t get the vision.” Some of those hirings took a little while, but I am glad we have the best-in-class people. Gaga and CEO Ben Jones have a great dynamic. We’d known him for many years because he worked at one of our portfolio companies, the Honest Company [with Jessica Alba]. And the CMO Nicole Frusci came from Milk, Benefit, and Sephora. She gets on with Gaga like a house on fire.
MC: Why did you decide launch Haus on Amazon?
NQ: This is where Ben Jones did a terrific job. When Amazon came to us, Ben was very level-headed and fostered a strong relationship with them. We wanted to be able to launch in the U.S. and international markets at the same time. Gaga has a huge fan base all across the world. She wanted everyone to be able to buy the product. That’s something that took a long time in the making. They’ve been a good partner and were able to launch with everybody from day one.
Another reason we wanted to go with Amazon is because Amazon touches everybody. It’s not for one group—it’s for all different types of people, and that was important to us. We spoke to Amazon a lot about price points and actually brought down prices both on our own website and on Amazon because we wanted this to be mass [market]. And when you think of mass, you think of Amazon.
This article originally appeared on Marie-Claire.