At $49.95, the 3-ml. product is about $100 less than many of its counterparts in the professional sector, where the lash-growth category originated. The cheaper price and the promise of efficacy comparable with or better than the more expensive products has appealed to mass retailers and drugstores as well as doctors’ offices and spas, according to Robert Trow, co-owner of RapidLash marketer Rocasuba, which is based in Mashpee, Mass.
“Whenever you get a new heroic category, everybody rushes to market with claims and allegations,” he said. “Of the 40 or 50 products on the market that have come out in the last six to eight weeks, there are five that work and four of them are $125 to $160. Nobody is bringing it to mass. The paradigm was you don’t bring to mass these types of products for five to 10 years. We are changing the paradigm.”
RapidLash entered about 100 doctors’ offices, spas, salons and online stores this month and is due to spread to roughly 2,500 CVS doors in November. Trow estimated that the product would be carried in 15,000 to 20,000 doors by the end of next year and would generate $5 million to $10 million in first-year retail sales. Overall, he believes the size of the eyelash-enhancement market will grow to $1 billion in three years, based on sales of existing items and the expectations for recent and upcoming launches.
Trow, a longtime distributor of skin care lines who writes and speaks frequently about skin care developments, has been carefully watching the introduction of lash-amplification products during the last few years. When controversy arose over an eyelash conditioner by Jan Marini Skin Research fueled by bimatoprost, an active ingredient in an Allergan Inc. glaucoma drug, and was seized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year, he began considering how to create an affordable product without the drug compound.
RapidLash contains three polypeptide variants to protect against hair breakage and support stronger, more voluminous lashes and brows. Vitamins, extracts and moisturizing agents such as panthenol, allantoin, pumpkin seed extract, licorice extract and hydrolyzed glycosaminoglycans are said to help hydrate lashes and brows, and provide strength, shine, durability and elasticity. The product, which resembles a clear serum, has no prescription drug ingredients and is designed to be applied to the base and lid of the eye and/or the brow line once daily before bedtime.
“There is tremendous interest by the public in [lash] products,” said Trow, “but they were cautious for two reasons: The first is the price, which was prohibitive to the average person, and the second was the publicity around the use of the products with the FDA’s seizure of Jan Marini’s product.” Referring to RapidLash, he continued: “Now, with the price one-third of Jan Marini’s and all ingredients deemed safe by regulatory bodies in the United States and the European Union, everyone is clamoring for the product.”
RapidLash also had a chance encounter with Barry Tatelman, former chief executive officer of Jordan’s Furniture, which was sold to Berkshire Hathaway in 1999, that furthered its path to market. Tatelman and Trow are friends from the Cape Cod area and were out one night when Trow handed the product to Tatelman, who has always had sparse eyelashes and brows.
“He said, ‘Just try it,’” recounted Tatelman. “I am very fastidious, and I did it every night. I went away for a business trip and when I came back my son was like, ‘You have eyebrows and eyelashes!’ People said, ‘You look different. You look younger.’ It really grew my brows and lashes. I decided to become partners with Rob [Trow].”
The new Rocasuba partners have big plans for RapidLash. After the initial product gets off the ground, Trow said a broader RapidLash brand could be built around various eye products, including ones for firming and lifting, and lightening under the eye without the use of hydroquinone.