Sherrington native: Benoit Lussier makes his mark on the cosmetics world
TC Media - Marc-André Couillard
Benoit Lussier launched his own brand of cosmetics in 2014. Two years later, his sales could double to reach 2 M$. In just over two years, Benoit Lussier has managed to convince all six pharmacy banners in Quebec to sell Elle R Cosmetics items. Its high-end products, sold at affordable prices, have allowed it to stand out from the big brands. His company's sales are expected to double in 2016, in addition to the upcoming opening of an office in China.Mr. Lussier has spent most of his life in Sherrington. Mr. Lussier has spent most of his life in Sherrington, where his mother is a municipal councillor. He left his native village a few years ago to settle in Sainte-Martine, where it all began.
He never imagined that one day he would have his own brand of cosmetics, he who once flirted with the idea of studying nuclear medicine. He also spent three months sailing on a tanker in Mexico before training in fashion marketing.
While working at a pharmacy in Lacolle, Benoit Lussier was invited to join the sales team of a major cosmetics broker. He held this position for nine years.
"I knew nothing about cosmetics," admits Lussier. They gave me all the training I needed on the products I was selling. It was love at first sight.
During his years as a representative, he noticed several shortcomings in the service offered to estheticians.
For example, they often have to buy samples of the products they sell in order to try them out and be able to show them to customers. Mr. Lussier deplores this situation.
His brother-in-law, Patrick Lapointe, president of Groupe Desautels, which specializes in industrial electricity, then asked him why he wouldn't sell such products himself.
The idea took hold of Mr. Lussier. He toyed with the idea of importing them, but the exchange rate held him back.
Instead, Lussier decided to launch his own product line. He was able to count on the help of his brother-in-law and his wife Annie Roy, who invested in his fledgling business.
Mr. Lussier's first instinct was to travel to France to find new products. "There was a big cosmetics show in Paris. I came back from there with a lot of ideas," says Mr. Lussier. I thought I would revolutionize cosmetics in Quebec.
When he returned from Europe, he suffered his first setback with the products he presented to Quebec drugstore chains. He then focused on a single flagship item.
In the fall of 2014, he launched Looky Hair. It's coloured cotton fibres that are sprinkled on the head to cover sparse areas. "It wasn't known by Mr., Mrs., everyone. It wasn't sold in pharmacies," says Lussier.
He found a company in China that made the product for other companies. Lussier had to design the box, the displays and develop a marketing plan.
It's even one of his friends in the "before and after" photos on the box. "It was a lot of work for the first product," he says.
As soon as Looky Hair was released, Mr. Lussier ran a major advertising campaign on television and in stores to mark the occasion. He also points out that the secret of his product's success lies in its price: it is sold at two to three times less than similar products sold online.
To capitalize on the success that Looky Hair was having, Lussier soon had to come up with a second product.
In June 2015, he launched Looky Eyes 3D, a mascara made up of a gel and fiber duo. Lussier was able to market a unique product that wasn't sold in pharmacies in Quebec. "It was an instant yes from all the banners," says Mr. Lussier.
This time, he decided to use a public relations agency to promote it. Sales soar. "In 2015, Looky Eyes 3D came in third place in terms of mascara sales at the Rexall drugstore chain in English Canada," Lussier says.
In February 2016, he launched a third product, Looky Brow. It is nylon fibres that are applied to the eyebrows to better define them.
Lussier is also the importer of the Kadalys brand in Canada. This is a line of cosmetic products made in France.
Benoit Lussier is the sole employee of Elle R Cosmetics. All orders are assembled by Mr. Lussier from the warehouse of his brother-in-law's company. He sends them to the various pharmacy distribution centers.
Elle R Cosmétiques products can be found in 800 points of sale in Quebec and Canada.
The company is destined to grow. The waterproof Looky Eyes will be launched next month. In August, Lussier plans to launch three cleansing sponges and six new brushes.
Elle R Cosmetics Asia is expected to launch within the next few weeks. An office will be opened in China to do international development.
In 2017, Mr. Lussier plans to market a new line of skin care products (moisturizer, anti-wrinkle cream, skin cleanser, etc.) designed in Quebec.