Cosmetics Upstart e.l.f. Beauty Sitting Pretty Upon IPO

Cosmetics maker e.l.f. Beauty (NYSE:ELF) shined in its trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday. The company priced its initial public offering at $17 per share, above the expected range of $14-16, raising $141 million. Shares soared more than 55% to close at $26.50.

Since its founding in 2004 by father-son duo Alan and Joey Shamah, e.l.f. (an acronym for eyes, lips, face) has seen impressive growth, capping the six month-period ending in June with net sales of $96.8 million, up from $75.19 million during the year-ago period.

“We appeal to the women who absolutely love cosmetics and we resonate with them mainly because we offer really high-quality products at an extraordinary value,” CEO Tarang Amin tells

Specifically, e.l.f. has become a staple among Millennial shoppers, and Amin said his company has a long track record of being able to connect with that segment of the population made up of diverse makeup enthusiasts. In fact, he said 80% of e.l.f’s workforce is woman, while 70% are Millennials.

The company’s wide array of products, most of which cost just a few dollars, can be purchased online directly through the e.l.f. e-commerce site, as well as through a number of retail outlets like Target (NYSE:TGT) and Ulta (NASDAQ:ULTA). In addition, the company operates nine e.l.f. stores in the New York metro area.

As for future growth plans, Amin says he plans to focus on product innovation. The company launches new items on its website almost every week, and it has almost 300 ideas currently in the pipeline. Amin said an initial idea can progress to a tangible product sold online in as little as 20 weeks. But it’s not just the product areas where Amin sees room for expansion.

“We’re in less than 20% [of the stores] that cosmetics are sold in the U.S. but we have great opportunity in our direct channels to continue to grow,” Amin says.

While e.l.f’s primary focus is on the U.S., Amin notes the company has made significant inroads in typically tough to crack cosmetics markets like the U.K. and France.

"Two years ago, we weren’t even in Canada, so we’re still relatively new in a number of markets...It’s a strategy of focused expansion. We have such great balance across all of our channels and really making sure we’re prioritizing that growth."

Transitioning from private to public can be daunting, but Amin said he and much of his leadership team come from very strong public-company backgrounds. He added though, that the biggest challenge now is making sure the company does what it says it’s going to do.

The company’s debut comes during a time of market uncertainty and little IPO action. Amin tells his staff on any given day not to pay attention the stock but rather focus on executing their long-term mission.

“Our real objective is long-term how to make luxurious beauty accessible to all women.”

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