Lilly Ghalichi, a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur, was introduced to television viewers on Bravo’s Shahs of Sunset. The show featured a group of friends in the Iranian expatriate community in Los Angeles and Ghalichi, known as “Persian Barbie,” was unmistakable in her signature look: skintight dresses and teetering heels, combined with voluminous hair and a Glam Squad to boot.
Ghalichi left the show to focus on her growing line of businesses, which now include e-commerce site WantMyLook, Lilly Lashes false eyelashes, and an online makeup school called Ghalichi Glam. Accessible designer collaborations are mainstays in the fashion industry, yet Ghalichi Glam achieves differentiation by directly leveraging Lilly Ghalichi’s cult of personality and social media presence to influence consumer purchasing habits.
The central theme for Ghalichi Glam businesses is to empower digitally savvy consumers with affordable opportunities to attain the lifestyle they see celebrities flaunt in the media. Implicitly, Ghalichi Glam gives customers more opportunities to garner social media “likes” themselves by putting their own twist on emulating tastemakers.
Breakdown of the businesses:
WantMyLook offers fast fashion tuned to of-the-moment celebrity trends. Price points are comparable to H&M at $40-50 USD for shoes and $30-70 USD for dresses.
On the cosmetics side of the business, Lilly Lashes promise consumers that they can attain glamorous looks worthy of Kim Kardashian, without having to hire a makeup artist. The lashes are named after cities around the world, including “Saint Tropez” and “Istanbul,” to evoke a jet-set lifestyle. Lashes are priced at $8.99/pair.
To close the circle, fans can then elect to join Ghalichi Glam’s online beauty school, paying $19/month for access to video tutorials like “Extreme Glamour Transformation Full Face Makeup Class” or “Perfect Effortless Waves” taught by celebrity makeup artists.
The tenets of the Ghalichi Glam operating model are tight integration with social media for advertising purposes and speed. In a recent New York Times article titled, “On Fake Instagram, a Chance to Be Real,” Valeriya Safronova writes, “For a certain generation, Instagram has become a calling card, a life résumé of sorts: ‘This is me. This is my life. Jealous?’” For many heavy users of social media, scrolling through a celebrity feed can cause feelings of envy without recourse. WantMyLook responds directly to these feelings by embedding thoughtful integration with the Instagram platform on their website, including a “Shop the Look on Instagram” link, and posting side-by-side comparisons of their products with those worn by the likes of Kylie Jenner. By coupling social media with celebrity fast-fashion, Ghalichi Glam has carved a niche in the market that is unmatched by competitors like Zara and H&M.
Ghalichi Glam also successfully integrates celebrity (both traditional and social media) endorsements in an authentic way by using brand ambassadors. Indeed, what unifies all of the Ghalichi Glam businesses is the public and consistent endorsement of Ghalichi herself, who posts images to her 1.8m Instagram followers of herself using her products, celebrity friends using her products, or customers using her products to create professional-grade looks. This creates free marketing and an expansion of influence, since social media personalities who have been featured on Ghalichi’s Instagram will respond in kind to their own spheres of influence by tagging Ghalichi’s products in their posts.
Additionally, the WantMyLook website emphasizes speed of shipment and delivery to encourage customers to purchase items immediately; when browsing for items, a ticker on the website floats down to inform you how many hours you have left to catch the next shipment time. Speed is also of the essence in order to capture sales of fast-fashion items before the next trend is established. Finally, the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles give Ghalichi Glam access to the tastemakers and supporting makeup artists and designers that fuel society’s obsession with celebrity culture.
The business and operating model of Ghalichi Glam businesses are synergistic because they successfully offer customers a value proposition of appearing on-trend at a more affordable price point. The adoption of products stem from Ghalichi’s successful use of social media to cultivate and maintain a fan base. Despite no publicly available financial statements, I am optimistic about growth for the company, especially because of Ghalichi’s forward looking statements about growth. For example, Bain Capital’s 2014 Worldwide Luxury Goods Report predicts that the luxury cosmetics segment that Lilly Lashes plays in can grow at 2% CAGR between 2013 and 2014. Despite the relatively flat growth outlook in the industry, Ghalichi stated in an interview with ArabianBusiness.com that “in 2016 I will open a store or at minimum a distribution centre in Dubai so that my lashes will be easily accessible to everyone,” indicating that global expansion is in the works beyond their current distribution system.