Ever struggled with finding the right foundation shade for you? Look no further to the new Toronto based brand JABBAR & Company Inc., who’ve created the ultimate high performance foundation through a unique technology set to find your best matches from their range of 110 different shades!
As debates about colourism in the fashion industry and beauty community started to rise, it was clear that there was a huge lack of inclusiveness taking place. Every person deserves to have a foundation that fits their skin tone. This sparked JABBAR & Co. to launch 110Shades of inclusivity. 110Shades is their initiative to provide full coverage foundations for all at just a price of $70.
What makes 110 Shades so unique is the easy tools available on their website to help you match your skin tone with their range of foundations! Even in a scenario where you feel you are unable to find your shade, the company is very adamant about welcoming suggestions for new colours. This reflects on the company’s goals to grow not just in revenues but range of products in a way that really values their customers, and what makes them so different from every other cosmetics brand out there.
Rabi Jabbar, one of the co-founders of JABBAR & Co. said “Pantone (the colour experts) identified 110 distinguishable shades of natural human skin tone so the idea is simple; let’s include everyone!” He also went on to state that they wanted to organize a complete and structured system for people to find and tweak their favourite shades as their skin tone changes throughout the seasons, which is something not many other brands out there can provide.
According to the other co-founder Sabur Quazi, deciding to only focus on foundation products was actually a choice that felt right for their company. “As a niche brand, we were planning a full portfolio of cosmetics, from luxurious skincare through to striking lipsticks, and a dazzling assortment of eye makeup. But, as a start-up, we were concerned that while we could develop our distinct style, we still didn’t have a unique selling point.” Clearly their choice to focus on just foundations and get it really right has proven to be a huge success!
The Unconventional Founders: Rabi Jabbar and Sabur Quazi
The two co-founders Rabi Jabbar and Sabura Quazi have an unconventional connection to the beauty community and 110Shades. Despite growing up in two different places around the world, the two met in Singapore for the first time and eventually reconnected in Canada. Jabbar actually comes from a background in data analytics and management consulting, while Quazi has a background in fund management and private equity. Even though Quazi and Jabbar were not always passionate about the cosmetic industry as a whole, these two characters share an uncommon bond and a different take on business dynamics that sets them apart.
Unconventional seems to be at the core of 110Shades in all aspects. Out of all the industries to venture into, the two of them picked cosmetics because of the high value and small form factor of products that made it ideal to fulfill online orders.
Plus, their idea to build something ethical and innovative stems from their passion to “always keeping integrity as a cornerstone,” on all their ventures.
Diving into the Foundation
JABBAR & Co.’s liquid foundation formula provides light, buildable, all-day coverage, suitable for achieving a dewy look on combination skin. The foundation is silicone-based for professional results, and dispenses with a velvety texture that melts into your skin – a little product certainly goes a long way.
Toronto-based makeup artist and Instagram beauty influencer, Jessica, was one of JABBAR & Co’s earliest supporters wrote a raving review of the product: “they blend so flawlessly into the skin and although it has amazing full coverage it definitely does not feel like a mask or heavy at all. It is super lightweight and lasts all day!” One of the best selling points for Jessica was when she discovered that there are four different shades offering her a perfect match for various lighting conditions in every season. What’s even more surprising is that her favourite shades aren’t even next to each other on the chart.
The Shade Analyzer
Despite the boom in the cosmetics industry, the launch of 110Shades didn’t go as expected. Sales were slow, and advertising spent just simply wasn’t converting the way they had hoped. Collecting feedback and user content would prove laborious for a small start-up and it soon became evident that JABBAR & Co. was facing a more fundamental problem.
According to their web programmer Christine Wilson, despite the fact that they developed tools like shade finders and quizzes, content, reviews, and a unique style on top of collaborating with influencers to develop an affiliate program with commission, discounts and giveaways, “there was still something that was making it difficult for customers to complete their purchase.” Their team even looked at target audience behaviours and tried to fill holes in our marketing funnels, but these tools alone were not enough.
Ultimately they discovered that there was a problem with interpreting the colour of their pigments on screen. Having over a hundred options might not be the best solution for everyone, since some customers are still finding it hard to get their perfect match. JABBAR & Co. tried to map existing brands to their shades through an interactive Shade Finder with novel lighting controls, but ran into fundamental issues following a lengthy exercise – “our customers would be looking for their perfect match, and not just a near replacement for a formula that they had previously settled for,” said Christine, which definitely wasn’t how they wanted to operate their business.
After developing their Shade Analyzer technology, they saw much more success. It was designed with the intent to be able to analyze an uploaded portrait photo and suggest a matching shade in their collection. All the lighting variables of submitted photos combined with the precision complexity of our distinct shade spectrums resulted in an understanding to invest further into research, explore artificial intelligence and augmented reality technology to truly improve the reliability of the shade analyzer. “In the end, seeing is believing and the business needed to find a way to get people buying the product sooner.” Wilson explained.
Adapting to Present Challenges
Like most small businesses, Jabbar & Co. suffered during the pandemic. Before their team realized the world would face a global shut down, they had already invested heavily in product development and had achieved their manufacturing goals.
“With unavoidable delays and an uncertain outlook, we had to renegotiate contracts to balance our risk and ensure our survival – we are lucky to work with some really great business partners, and would have gone under without their trust and faith in the value we have developed. Confident in our product and that online sales would be the way of the future (after all, we are all in it together), we started to develop our e-commerce site,” Quazi said.
According to Jabbar, they’ve definitely had their fair share or handling problems as they came in. “For example, the competition for digital advertising and the resulting excess of noise online to contend with would make it difficult for a late-comer to amass a following; if only we started our efforts well in advance of the pandemic!” At the same time they have also had to adapt their approach by “developing content in line with the Internet’s new nature and appetite,” Jabbar said.
Despite experiencing their fair share of issues, especially with the global pandemic taking a toll on their venture, 110Shades has proven to be a massive success with it’s adaptability and appeal to such a wide range of beauty consumers.
Beyond these challenges, the company is optimistic as provinces plan to reopen and people continue to get vaccinated. Their mission continues to be about focusing on providing products with every shade available, especially to people with darker skin tones. JABBAR & Co. hopes to be able to launch some form of retail presence in Toronto in the post-pandemic future to be able to connect directly with their local customer base. The brand also hopes to strengthen ties with business partners as they continue to expand and meet trade requests with new supporting media. Ultimately with their 110Shades foundation, they have a unique value and proposition for make-up artists looking to fill up their product range and even earn great margins on distributor pricing!
It’s clear that the launch of 110Shades by JABBAR & Co. has been a phenomenal success in the beauty community, and only continues to grow. The creators have been consistent with their vision from the beginning to now, and despite their unconventional backgrounds and start in the cosmetics world, we can’t wait to see where their foundation products take them next!