GloPro pioneer Jamie O’Banion chats with Moneyish about fighting beauty queen stereotypes and the advantage of being a woman in the beauty business
For Jamie O’Banion, beauty shouldn’t have to hurt (too much.)
The 35-year-old co-founder of Beauty BioScience has spent most of her adult life in the skincare business. As a child, she traveled on business to Europe and Asia with her dermatologist father, who owned laboratories that made beauty ingredients. A one-time Miss Teen Texas, O’Banion later worked with her now-retired dad on marketing and product development.
“Having grown up in the industry, I have a totally unfair advantage over people who don’t know the difference between retinols and Vitamin C,” she tells Moneyish. “I speak beauty as a second language.”
But what makes O’Banion different from other well-read beauty obsessives is the blockbuster success of GloPro, a $199 microneedling device she developed and her company patented. The take-home gadget is a form of collagen induction therapy, or injecting tiny steel needles to wound your skin in order to force it to heal and produce new protein. As the needles are so small, their application causes a relatively painless prickling sensation rather than acute pain. “The density of the needles and angles mean there’s a clean separation,” she says. “On a microscopic level, it’s like parting cells.”
This rejuvenation makes the skin look fresher by softening lines and closing pores. While there are other ways of stimulating this process— chemical peels, for instance— GloPro promises less irritation, meaning that it can be used multiple times a week. In one study its parent company sponsored, it found an average 29.5% reduction in wrinkles in a month of thrice weekly application. Dermatologists have found devices like GloPro to be at least somewhat effective, though some question if its effects are long-lasting; others also caution that careless use could lead to infection.
In turn, a mostly female clientele has flocked to the Dallas, Texas-based brand. When O’Banion premiered GloPro on the Home Shopping Network in spring 2016, she sold $4 million worth of them in a dozen minutes. Off this success, Beauty Bioscience, which also makes products like serums and body creams, recorded $30 million in sales last year and expects the figure to double in 2017. In the U.S., it’s stocked by the likes of Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, while the tony Harrod’s carries it in Britain.
Though the beauty business is still one dominated at top executive levels by men, O’Banion says her gender hasn’t been a hindrance. “Being a woman, I have an advantage,” she says. “It’s hard for men to relate to what cellulite or a stretch mark might feel like. I put the hat of a consumer on and ask myself: Does it make sense to me? Is it easy to use?”
If anything, the beauty boss takes glee in the stereotypes she faces as a former model. “Oftentimes, people expect you to speak a certain way or to not understand something, but nothing is more fun that exceeding expectations,” says O’Banion, who recalls bringing her laptop to past modeling shoots and working on Beauty BioScience “while other girls were chatting or reading books.”
Time, she adds, has quelled most of her skeptics. “The relationships that have been developed are fun and there’s a mutual respect over the years,” she says. “I’ve used every bit of my experience to my benefit.”
With the exception of a stake sold to Los Angeles marketing firm Guthy Renker in 2015, Beauty BioScience remains held by friends and family. While there are other at-home microneedling gadgets around, O’Banion attributes Beauty BioScience’s success to her knowing every bit of her business.
“I write the P.O.s and closed my computer at 2:30am this morning after responding to 50 direct messages off social media,” she says. “I’m not from a background where I worked at a big company for ten years. Beauty BioScience is like my child, no one will care about it the way I do.”
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