It’s 2019 and healthy, clean and green is all the rave. Enter a new, locally-founded makeup company that aims to make better-for-you beauty products. Launched on July 30, makeup company NakedPoppy prides itself on being the antithesis of mainstream makeup brands. The e-commerce business “believe[s] that every woman deserves beauty products that make her look and feel fabulous without posing a risk to her health.”
“We target the woman who is healthy and environmentally-conscious but doesn’t want to be doing the research herself. I wanted to make it easy for women who are too busy to shop online to have the convenience to go clean.”Co-founder and NakedPoppy CEO Jaleh Bisharat
Bisharat was the former CMO and VP of Marketing at OpenTable, Eventbrite and Amazon. She now works full-time for NakedPoppy.
“I spent my whole career in technology and marketing, but for the last 15 years I have been passionate about clean beauty,” said Bisharat. “NakedPoppy is the combination of my personal passion and my love of and experience with e-commerce and technology.”
A resident for the past 19 years, Bisharat has lived and raised her children in Piedmont. She credits the community for being the incubator for NakedPoppy.
“This company started right here in this house, so it really is a Piedmont company,” said Bisharat gesturing to her office space.
According to a NakedPoppy brochure, the company sets itself apart in its “reliably clean and science-based” products, “hand-vetted” makeup, “patent-pending technology” and “100 percent cruelty-free.”
Bisharat met NakedPoppy co-founder and CFO Kimberly Shenk at Eventbrite, where Shenk was the head of data science. Given Shenk’s extensive experience as a senior data scientist for the U.S. Air Force, leadership in Big Data companies and a degree from MIT, Shenk was an obvious pick. Shenk is the brains behind the algorithm that’s integral to the NakedPoppy customer experience.
A brand is born
“We wanted a name that captured two aspects of what we’re doing,” said Bisharat. “‘Naked’ is meant to signify everything that’s clean, unadulterated and simple and ‘Poppy’ captures the joy and color that goes with wearing makeup.”
Bisharat recalled some of the watershed moments of NakedPoppy’s start up. Picture this: In 2017, Bisharat and her friends had set up a guerilla style experiment at the Farmer’s Market in the Oakland neighborhood of Temescal. There, they ran “blind tests” over two weekends.
They paid women $5 to test out two mascaras — one “clean” and one from a popular brand that was not considered “clean.”
“I paid [them] to try them out and tell us which they liked better,” said Bisharat. “They didn’t know which was clean and the clean one slightly outdid the the non-clean popular brand one.”
Bisharat concluded that her “test group” did not necessarily favor one over the other and realized that the “clean” mascara was at par with the “non-clean” mascara.
Beauty vs clean shouldn’t be a trade-off
From there on, she cultivated a personal mission around a business where women no longer have to make a trade-off between clean and harmful.
Bisharat shared how there are 12,500 chemicals available for use in personal care in the U.S. While the E.U. has restricted more than 1,300 chemicals in cosmetics, the U.S. has only restricted up to 11.
“It was so clear to me as an individual that if what I ate was organic, why wouldn’t what goes on my face, lips and near my eyes also be clean and free of harmful chemicals?” said Bisharat.
NakedPoppy follows “four pillars” of clean: human health, environment, animal welfare and community welfare.
“We have a green chemist and research scientist [Yashi Shrestha],” said Bisharat. “She looks at every single chemical in every product we carry and makes sure it’s free of known or suspected toxins or harmful chemicals.”
NakedPoppy also relies on a panel of experts to constantly monitor studies as new research pours in. They also ask for documentation from potential business partners to prove their products are indeed cruelty-free. Bisharat is aware that the science isn’t always perfect, but says NakedPoppy aims to go the extra mile for their customers.
“We’re not saying we’re perfect at it, but we make a tremendous investment in it,” said Bisharat.
A personalized approach
Co-founder Kimberly Shenk created the algorithm that powers the NakedPoppy experience. The algorithm gathers data based on a quiz, then makes product recommendations for users. It also “continuously adapts based on feedback,” according to a NakedPoppy brochure.
The three-minute “Personalized Boutique” quiz determines the best NakedPoppy makeup products for customers. Customers will be paired with products for “Natural” and “Glamorous” occasions, and can see percentage matches for every product.
Customers can expect to answer questions like:
What color are your eyes? What’s your current hair color? What color are your veins? What’s your natural hair color? Are you pregnant, or do you have a new baby? Do you have allergies or sensitivities that are important when choosing makeup? Do you want to be limited to strictly vegan products?
“We have a strict privacy [policy]; we don’t use it for anything,” said Bisharat. “We never share your information with anyone else. We only use it to divine what’s gonna look good on you.”
NakedPoppy was backed by $4.1 million from six venture capital firms Comcast Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, Slow Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Maveron and Polaris Ventures.
The company also has five angel investors Amy Banse, Managing Director and Head of Funds, Comcast Ventures Thomas Layton, Chairman of Upwork and former CEO at OpenTable, Susan Lyne, Managing Partner of BBG Ventures, Andy Rachleff, co-founder of Benchmark Capital and Jamie Rapperport, co-Founder and CEO of Eversight.
Shipping and returns are free. If customers live and order from Piedmont, they might be lucky enough to see Jaleh or the NakedPoppy team personally deliver. Visit NakedPoppy’s website at: https://nakedpoppy.com/