What is Doe Lashes? How did they make a $15mil brand in a year from $500? What are they doing next? What are their tips for growing beauty brands?
Don't worry - we’re going to answer all of these questions right now.
Let’s do this.
What is Doe Lashes?
Doe Lashes is a lash brand (and now expanding into an eye brand) focused on comfort, founded in 2020 by twenty-three-year-old Jason Wong. After only one year the brand is worth 15 million dollars.
For Jason, ecommerce is practically second nature. He was only fourteen when he started selling T-shirts online, and he’s seen the industry evolve a long way since then. Today, in addition to being the founder of Doe Lashes, he’s also the founder of an ecommerce agency: Wonghaus.
Almost ten years after his first business endeavor, Jason had the idea for Doe Lashes when he noticed his girlfriend struggling to put on her false lashes before a date. He wondered if he could make a better product that checked all of the important boxes: comfort, affordability, beauty and ethical manufacturing. His curiosity was stoked.
Jason was kind enough to find time to join me on the very first episode of our Fire Show (a newly crafted show for those fascinated by diving deep into the journeys of successful brands) to give us insight into his wealth of knowledge and understanding of brand-building in today’s world.
In our conversation he gave us insights into how he rapidly grew his beauty brand using Shopify, TikTok, Octane AI, and other platforms.
The most interesting part though is how we did it all with just $500.
“The product designer in me thought...maybe there’s a way to create something better.”
- Jason Wong
Source: Jason Wong
Launching an ecommerce brand on a $500 budget
From the beginning, Jason was determined to use as little money as possible to get Doe off the ground. He stuck to the basics at first, focusing on quality and cost above all else.
That first $500 was directed to a small batch of inventory and domain. Everything else, Jason did himself. And it wasn’t always easy.
“You’re constantly building a road while you’re traveling on it at the same time...trying to put out fires while figuring out how to grow,” he said.
A small but mighty (and clearly effective) community of family, friends and micro-influencers got the word out about his new launch, earning him a few sales to start. Jason put the money he made from those sales right back into the business to buy more product. “For the first four months, we had no paid ads,” he said.
In the beginning, Jason didn’t even hire a photographer for official shoots. Instead he relied solely on content created by influencers to populate Doe’s social media.
He explained that TikTok and Instagram are good places for low-cost ads because you only pay for the labor to create the post. Email and SMS are two other relatively cheap services that helped the brand foster customer engagement.
“At a certain point of your growth, you get enough people to talk about your product that it drives a big wave. Enough people who loved our product essentially became messengers for us.”
- Jason Wong
Source: Doe Lashes
P.S. Want to learn how Doe Lashes collected 3X more email opt-ins with one strategy? Download the full case study here.
Finding and connecting with DTC customers
Diversifying Doe’s marketing channels, so they saw roughly equal amounts of revenue from each (Snapchat, Tiktok, Facebook and email), turned out to be an important piece of the puzzle that constituted the overall picture of the brand’s success.
“Different platforms drive different levels of intent [to purchase]...and as we see the shift in the intention of how people use different platforms, we see the shift in how influencers convert on each of these platforms,” Jason said. He went on to emphasize how essential it is to pay attention to the particulars of these channels and the quality of traffic received on each.
Translation: if you’re launching a newbie beauty brand, you need to know your numbers.
Jason recommends doing weekly audits and being flexible enough to change the plan if the current one isn’t working.
Lowering customer acquisition costs
Jason attributes a lot of his recent success to Doe’s “Find Your Perfect Lash Style” quiz, which ended up being a big part of a new ad strategy he tried in June 2020.
This strategy came from the idea of approaching Facebook and Instagram with a different intent. Before, Jason would run ads on these channels with the goal of getting customers to purchase from the first click, but he wondered how he could introduce people who aren’t ready to buy right away to the Doe brand.
Jason used Octane AI’s Shop Quiz as the conversion objective for these ads.
Source: Doe Lashes Case Study
“We set up Snapchat and Facebook campaigns to drive people over to the quiz...to get the results they have to give us their phone number or email there, and then we just nurture them through an email and SMS journey. We’ve been able to bring down our customer acquisition costs significantly just by doing this model,” he said.
Building a personalized shopping experience with a quiz
Describing the quiz experience from his perspective, Jason said it emulates a store associate from Sephora. The Doe quiz acts like a virtual consultation where the brand can learn about its customers’ attributes by asking questions about their likes and what they’re looking for. It then recommends a product that suits those attributes.
Source: Doe Lashes Quiz
Jason said this is really important for an online beauty brands because consumers are sensitive to the products they put on their face and eyes, the ingredients they use and how something looks on them.
“There’s a lot of blanket recommendations where brands will say ‘you should get this,’ but they don’t really care about the customer attributes… By creating a quiz, we’re able to emulate the experience of having an in-store representative.”
- Jason Wong
Personalization is a key strategy for the fastest-growing DTC beauty brands. If you want to read about the top trends beauty brands are using this year, download the 50+ page guide on turning your store browsers into buyers here.
Scaling up and building the Doe Lashes team
After some trial and error, Jason recognized TikTok required special attention. Whereas Instagram is like a curated online storeroom, Tiktok is all about the raw footage. The behind-the-scenes. The authentic origin story.
To help the brand do this well, he brought someone onto the team to manage Doe’s TikTok account. The secret: that person was already a TikTok creator. “You have to bring in someone who lives on TikTok to be successful on it,” Jason said.
Source: Doe Lashes TikTok
Jason said brands should try to be successful on TikTok because there are users on it that are open to discovering new products. “They’re there to find the next life hack, and you want it to be yours,” he said.
Doe takes a fairly hands-off approach when it comes to their influencers on TikTok, finding it’s better to give them the most specific product benefit callouts, and allowing them to brainstorm the creative expression however they want—rather than forcing them to post in a certain way (which is a big no-no, according to Jason.)
“Trying to not depend on one single platform has been the biggest change we’ve done to our company. Because when you’re only depending on Facebook, you’re at the mercy of Facebook….you as a business owner have the option to change the way you offer your product on your site, but also where you get your customers.”
- Jason Wong
Taking a holistic approach to customer retention
Doe is good at nurturing potential customers who aren’t ready to buy yet. This is because they know their product, they know who will be interested and they know where to find them.
Noting what the beauty industry lacked, specifically when it came to comfortable and affordable lashes, and then creating exactly that product was how Doe found their niche.
As a product-focused brand, they believe in what they make and can’t wait to share it. Because they believe in it, they are patient with their customers. “We approach different channels with a different intent than just direct conversion campaigns, which strive to get people to buy on first click,” Jason said.
Asking the question, “What else can we do to bring the people in who may not be ready to purchase today?” leads us to several Doe examples, including:
- A reward point system that launches immediately upon purchase
- A blog for education and SEO purposes
- SMS check-ins
- ...and a little something called Octane AI (a company I am very fond of...as the founder).
1. The Doe Rewards Program
Doe Lashes’s rewards program is powered by Smile.io. The system allows customers to build up points by writing reviews (which drives more traffic and trust), referring friends (again, more traffic), following Doe on social media and simply placing an order.
Once customers make a purchase, they immediately get an email that shares the amount of rewards they could have made off their purchase if they had signed up for Doe’s rewards program. “We let them know that there’s money left on the table, and that they need to redeem it,” Jason said.
2. The Doe Diaries and Deer Blog
Source: Deer Blog
Doe Lashes uses its blog for customer education. With article topics like “how to apply falsies on monolids,” “reasons to use pimple patches” and “how to choose the best false lashes for your eye shape,” Doe is able to drive organic traffic through SEO optimization and educate their customers on how to use the products they sell.
3. SMS Campaigns and flows
If they opt-in for SMS, we have follow up sequences for post-purchase. We ask for reviews using SMS. A lot of campaigns on SMS are not promotional-based, we send SMS check-ins, we remind people to drink water, we talk about things that are not brand-related at all. A lot of our customers are younger, so we send encouraging messages about staying hydrated, drinking water, getting rested.
Doe’s SMS campaigns are consciously geared towards their already-cultivated core demographic, which tends to skew on the younger side. The messages aren’t even necessarily brand-related; they might just remind you to drink more water. They’re sweet, playful and nurturing.
4. The Lash Quiz and buyer profiles
Source: Doe Lashes Quiz
Doe Lashes launched their Shop Quiz in 2020 by including it on their top navigation. This makes the quiz easily discoverable for all visitors.
From the quiz results pages, 4.6% of quiz takers convert to purchase. With an 11% higher AOV for quiz takers versus regular customers, the shop Quiz does more than collect data—it provides customers with a fun experience that helps them convert and buy more in the process.
They use the customer insights from the quiz to tag customers in Klaviyo, and then they create different segments of buyer profiles that get automated drip campaigns and personalized messaging.
“Understand the problem you’re trying to solve and figure out how to provide the best experience for your customers to retain them.”
- Jason Wong
Source: Doe Lashes
What’s ahead for Doe Lashes and Jason Wong
With someone like Jason Wong at its helm, it’s no surprise Doe Lashes has done as well as it has in such a short amount of time.
Innovative, curious, energetic, compassionate—and seemingly all-knowing—I’m excited to watch Jason grow Doe further into the comfort-first beauty scene.
Jason’s emphasis on care, one central to his ethos and his success in entrepreneurial efforts, is echoed by the words he chose to leave us with:
“Remember to drink water. Stay hydrated.”
Octane AI helps Shopify brands to offer a personalized ecommerce quiz, ultimately leading to curated product recommendations on-site. If you’re curious and want to read an in-depth case study on how Octane AI technology helped Doe 3x their email sign-up recently, you can find it here.
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We also have a show on Clubhouse called Takedown Tuesdays (which sounds much harsher than it is, I promise). If you want to get feedback on a brand you’re building from a panel of ecommerce experts, this is your chance. Tune in every Tuesday at 4 pm PST.
About the episode
Matt Schlicht and Ben Parr are the co-founders of Octane AI, a company that gives Shopify brands the ability to offer conversational commerce to customers on their sites; an experience replicating an in-store consultation and leading to curated product recommendations. They are joined in this particular episode by beauty brand founder and ecommerce expert Jason Wong, their team member Valentina Barron, and Shopify’s Strategic Partnership Manager Alli Burg.
Fire Show is a newly minted show on Clubhouse within Commerce Club. Each episode will focus on one successful brand, doing a deep dive into their origin story – strategies for finding customers, problems encountered, solutions discovered, product-market fit, tools, where they’re headed next, and more.