In a world obsessed with the instantaneous, it’s no wonder that 12-step beauty regimes and hours of makeup application is simply not going to cut it. For some of us, we barely have time to breathe, as work life starts to blend with personal, socializing needs to be scheduled (and Instagram-ed), and self-care often takes a back burner when the spare few seconds you have are dedicated to being present with family or running necessary errands. We’re looking for beauty that’s time-efficient, cost-efficient, simple, and – most importantly – effective. Flawless by Friday founder Brittny Robins set out to solve this problem when she launched her brand three years ago, after working for L’Oreal and realizing how confusing and unapproachable the beauty industry can be. A lifelong beauty fan, Robins wanted to develop a system that could improve skin in just five days. Now, she’s on her way to building one of Canada’s most exciting brands.

“I am number two of five sisters, so I grew up in a house full of girls and I was always was obsessed with the beauty industry. So, for example, at Hanukah one year, my mom got me the Bobbi Brown book teaching you how to put makeup on your face. And at 13, I had to give a speech on the woman I looked up to the most, and I spoke about Estee Lauder. There were all these things in my life where I was drawn to the beauty industry, but for some weird reason, I judged myself for that,” Robins shares. While she continued to pursue other professional routes – including completing an undergrad in psychology and marketing, a two-year stint abroad, and a string of miscellaneous jobs – it wasn’t until an ex-boyfriend connected her with someone in the business that she realized working at a cosmetic company could blossom into a legitimate career. However, there was something missing.

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“I learned that there was something missing in the beauty space for me: that was an approachability and friendliness that I always have prided myself on.”

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Over FaceTime, Robins certainly radiates positivity and a sense of openness. She immediately was a welcoming face from the moment we said hello, and continued to share funny anecdotes from her life, and even at one point happily introducing a staff member who had to pop in her office to grab something. It’s no wonder that in just three years, she’s grown Flawless by Friday into a popular skincare brand, partnering with The Bay’s former president Bonnie Brooks.

“When I started the brand, I was a bridesmaid five times in one year. I went to all these events and kept seeing people. I have enough ex-boyfriends in Toronto to fill a stadium, so every time I’d go to a wedding, see one of them, and my skin broke out (my whole life I have had acne-prone skin, which is why I love skincare so much), I would feel like shit. So, I thought [what] if I developed a system that would help to take down redness and inflammation in your skin, help hydrate, and help skin glow within five days using Korean technology – which at the time I was really into – and I got lucky because it was before it even hit, so it gave me time to actually develop something – then that’s what I would do.”

The products prove to be a testament of Robins’ drive, ambition, and instinctual business mind. She spent hours researching and developing the famous masks, reaching out to chemists in Korea and Toronto in order to perfect and produce her formulation.

The Flawless by Friday masks aren’t your usual slimy sheet – they are worth the $45 price tag for the five day system (or $26 for a pack of life-changing eye masks). The masks are hydrogel – a biodegradable material that seals to the skin, allowing you to absorb a higher concentration of ingredients to maximize your benefits.  The best part? They are super selfie-worthy.

“I had ordered [hydrogel masks] online from a different company: I had never tried it, and I started doing these ridiculous videos of me slow-mo pulling the mask off my face, and the hydrogel mask was thicker. I literally looked like Jason [Voorhees from Friday the 13th], like a murderer,” Robins shares. Later on, she realized how much of an impact this had.

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“When it came to the eye masks, I noticed that every time I handed one to somebody, they took their phone out and took a picture. I was like, ‘Oh there is something here. People want an excuse to take a photo of themselves.’ And while they’re doing it, they’re benefiting the skin and under-eye at the same time. I love the feeling of it, I love that it’s a conversation starter.”

We couldn’t agree more: after application, the need to take a selfie is visceral. Who knew gold eye patches could be en vogue? It’s no wonder that in Toronto (where the company was founded and now based), influencers are posing with their flawless masks everywhere they go.

When asked about mastering the art of influencer marketing, Robins said they don’t actually pay anyone to promote their product. “I have an internal rule that I like working with people who make me feel like I want to go have a coffee with them. Even if they’re edgy, someone who feels friendly… At the same time, we don’t pay influencers because we can’t afford to, and I don’t believe in it. I don’t want someone to talk about my product that they don’t genuinely enjoy using. I think it’s allowed us to have authentic content and relationships with bloggers and influencers. We’re saying that we’re going to send you product – post it or don’t post it, because we’re not paying you. Anyone who is talking about it is talking about it because they want to, not because they are obliged to.”

These strong relationships have led to great brand awareness events, like influencer fitness classes at Equinox and a collaboration at SPINCO, where riders walked home with a Flawless by Friday gift pack. While engaging bloggers locally has led to some valuable friendships, they are looking to attract attention beyond the city, as a way to expand the brand.

That being said, Toronto has been a great home for the young company, most recently hosting a pop-up shop at the city’s famous Yorkdale mall in the new CONCEPT space. Joined by 60 female-founded brands over the span of two months, Robins used this opportunity to launch the new makeup line.

“Makeup is my first passion because I love the artistry of it. I love the before and after in five minutes – like when I do my makeup in the morning, how I feel about myself from minute one and minute five, I feel like I can take on the world in a totally different way. This is what made me realize that the industry wasn’t actually shallow, it’s true: it does impact how you feel about yourself.

I wanted to expand on the concept of speed and simplicity in general. We are looking at how that relates to in terms of skincare (the skincare market is actually growing faster than the colour market). The opportunity is really great, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that I could create a makeup line that is really easy to use, and simple and fast for the everyday woman who doesn’t necessarily know how to do her makeup, who haven’t taken classes, and still wants to walk out her door to still feel her flawless self.

It’s something that I’ve dreamed about for five years and have been working on for almost two. I couldn’t ignore the need to do it. Business-wise, it made sense to follow the skincare path. Financially, it made sense – it’s actually more affordable to develop skincare too. [With] makeup, the margins are way worse than skincare. It made no sense other than I couldn’t sleep at night not doing it.”

Her gut instinct to explore makeup was a good one: now with four eye palettes, four face palettes, a set of brushes, and seven different lip colour duos, Flawless by Friday has solidified itself as an up-and-coming beauty player.

For the makeup line’s launch, the pop-up space welcomed customers to come in and try everything, including an opportunity to get a 15-minute makeover. While happy customers were expected, the impact of the pop-up space went above and beyond the company’s dreams.

“It was crazy,” describes Robins. She pitched the idea to Oxford Properties (who own Yorkdale). While it normally costs tens of thousands of dollars to rent their highly sought-after CONCEPT space, Robins came to the boardroom with a really exciting opportunity they couldn’t turn down.

“I wanted to work with female-founded brands that were either our size or smaller. So, I put together a proposal and said, ‘we’ll do all the work – we’ll sign all the contracts with all the brands, we’ll curate, we’ll decorate, we’ll do all these things, but you’ll have to charge a percentage of sales versus a fixed rent because I need these brands to know that they’re only going to be charged off of money that they’re making.’ They agreed, and we ended up having not just one month but two, and we had 60 brands come in and out of the space, we had an event every single week. I think my team was about to kill me.”

While her team worked hard, the results were rewarding.“The biggest and coolest thing was that we started to see this network of women come together. As an example, one woman wrote this whole message about how much courage it takes to start your own business, and another woman yesterday was like ‘I came in with my six-month-old and three-year-old and I just wanted to stop and walk away, and you sat me down and encouraged me to keep going.’ There was this whole community formed around us.”

Robins is no stranger to networking: Flawless by Friday has an accompanying networking group called Founding Fearless Females, or F3. The program is for women in business, whether they are entrepreneurs themselves, or have recently joined a start-up team and are dedicated to creating something from nothing.

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“It’s really scary, for women especially, because you are so worried about what other people think. We don’t have the same access to funding as men, statistically.”

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The idea of F3 is to connect women with others in their field, hopefully with some further along in the journey, and provide mentorship and access to a positive environment that will help these courageous individuals grow both their companies and individuals, as businesswomen.

It was through mentorship that Brittny Robins fostered a friendship with Bonnie Brooks. As previously mentioned, Brooks is the ex-President of the Hudson’s Bay Company, one of Canada’s biggest department stores, founded in 1670, long before our country was formed. Brooks met Robins in March of 2016 and promptly told her she needed to expand her product line. Not only can Robins thank the famed businesswoman for her advice, which provoked an impromptu trip to Italy where Robins met with a manufacturer who helped co-develop the popular honey and gold line, but for bringing Robins out of her comfort zone, as it was that same trip where she met her husband.

Now, Brooks is an investor in the company, officially making her a partner in the Flawless business. “How I got to her was that I literally stalked her. I’ve always wanted to meet her – I’ve been so impressed with what she was able to do on the radio, especially with what she did for the Bay: she was able to get on the radio and command your attention… So after 6 months of emailing her, I finally got in contact, and we just hit it off.

She’d say to me, ‘Ok, if you want to chat again, I have 15 minutes between 7:45 and 8 am on Tuesday morning if you want to come by.’ So, at 7:44, I’d show up and at 8:01, I’d say, ‘Thank you so much for your time,’ and I’d leave. For about 8 months, that’s just how it was, but now we’re at a point where she reaches out to me, she calls me, she’s heavily involved in the company. It’s great, but it was a really slow build. I really respected her time and that’s something I always tell people who want to be mentored by somebody: be pointed in your questions and really value the time that they’re giving you because they don’t have a lot of time.”

With Brooks on board, Flawless by Friday is on a fast-track to success. Robins spills that they’re tackling the issue of sustainability (“People really like the one-time use [of the masks]… We are looking to change them to make them more sustainable. The actual product is biodegradable, but the external packaging is what we’re changing. We’ll be launching that in the next 3-6 months.”), expanding their team (“I’ve on-boarded a couple new people to my team that we are going to be announcing in the fall which is going to be really exciting. They are sort of big names in the industry. I thought it was time to get serious help to take us to the next level.”), and even launching a permanent beauty bar in downtown Toronto starting September 1st, where customers can pay $30 for a 15-minute makeover (“as someone who goes on the shopping channel a lot, and when they do my makeup – real serious makeup – in 15 minutes. This is a really inefficient space [in the current market]. What we need to do is limit people’s options so if they want to get their makeup done for a first date, or a job interview, or a night out, then they can. They don’t have to break the bank for it.”).

For a week, DTK put the five-day system to a test. The results were amazing: skin was glowing, any signs of puffiness and redness seemed to evaporate into thin air. Another favourite product, the under-eye masks, eliminated the appearance of dark circles and any evidence of one-too-many late nights in 15 minutes. Wear ‘em alone, while getting ready in the morning, on a run – literally whenever. The masks are easily applied, super comfortable to wear, and stylish enough that you kind of want people to see how you’re practicing some self-care. The serums work too – the AM and PM pack contain glycolic acid, one of Robins’ skin care secrets that is anti-aging and helps to even out your complexion, reducing signs of acne scarring.

With another line launching in the fall, Founder Brittny Robins is making Flawless by Friday a beauty essential for everyone. Whether you’re a makeup guru, a skincare newbie, or just looking to enhance your features in anticipation for a big event, this Canadian brand’s focus on efficiency, simplicity, and effectiveness are your new go-to for all things beauty. You can find us sitting at our desks with our eye masks on. Check in again, and we may be applying a full dramatic eye. Getting ready in a pinch? That’s something we’ll stan for.

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Jane Bradshaw

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