- Jess Hunt started her modeling career in 2018 when she rose to Instagram fame while still in college.
- In 2020, Hunt and co-founders launched a sideline beauty business selling eyebrow products.
- Here’s how Hunt, 25, made eight-figure earnings last year, telling Jess Bacon.
This candid essay is based on a transcript of a conversation with 25-year-old Jess Hunt about how she used her influence and modeling career to launch her beauty business. Refy’s annual sales record is verified by Insider. Edited for length and clarity.
I started documenting my outfits and makeup on Instagram while studying fashion at art college in Plymouth.
I started styling fashion and beauty for my social media. I started working with brands who sent me products and asked me to model for shoots.
My career as an influencer developed from there. It was very organic.
In 2019, while modeling for the hair brand Shrine, I met the brand owner, Jenna Meek, who is now my business partner. We were connected immediately.
Throughout the day, Jenna noticed my long brow routine, which was two brow gels and four different brushes to keep my unruly brows in place. He said he had trouble finding products to create the look.
At that shoot, Jenna and I created what is now an award-winning brow sculpting product.
We tested hundreds of samples of our first product, Refy Brow Sculpt, back and forth for about a year.
Jenna and I invested £60,000 each from our savings into the brand, so our initial investment was £120,000.
Jenna was already a successful business owner and I was earning enough influence to take this risk.
At the beginning of the launch, I was running Refy as a side job. We worked virtually overtime building the product for almost a year.
People from Jenna’s team at Shrine helped shoot the first campaign and launch the product, so I had previous experience with some core staff at Refy.
We were nervous when we launched in November 2020, but we sold out of 6 months of inventory in 6 weeks.
After launching, we rolled out our first influencer campaign. My connections in the modeling world meant I could put my brand in front of millions of people through Instagram. This is huge for a young brand.
Social media plays a big role in Refy’s success and growth.
I have friends in the industry like Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber, Marilyn Melo and Jade Pierce who wanted to try out and share brow sculpting.
In a way, the pandemic helped launch us. Because people were spending a lot of time on their mobile phones. They also had a lot of disposable income.
I was a little worried that it peaked at my eyebrows. It was the right product at the right time.
I don’t think everyone has an entire Refy makeup bag, but of course they do. The dream is for everyone to have one He Refy product in their makeup bag.
Every product we make should serve a purpose
We don’t put out a ton of products or colorways. We make our own products, so he spends a year or two sampling, testing, and adjusting them before launch.
I don’t want to make a product that dries out, and I don’t want to throw it away before it’s used up. We want our products to last. That’s why we test it for a long time before delivering it to consumers.
In stock for the first time at Sephora in June 2021, 16 weeks of stock sold out in 72 hours.
Launching the Summer Skin line in July 2021. This year he released a lip collection in March. Our lip products sold out of 16 weeks of inventory in his 3 weeks. We will launch Skin Finish in May 2022 and Glow in June 2022.
The real challenge now is maintaining that level of success after launch. Meeting customer expectations, keeping up with growth, and launching innovative products.
I am currently Head of Creative at Refy.
Everything Refy customers see is something I see, approve, and work on.
Starting with a handful of employees doing four jobs each, Refy now has nearly 40 employees at its Manchester headquarters.
The speed of Refy’s growth is exciting, but a little overwhelming. I know that having more people on board will improve the brand.
Every day, I approve and plan social media campaigns. There are also many meetings for product development.
I organize my time on two lists: the Refy list and the Jess list.
Every day, I work on projects for my brand and Refy and do personal shoots around business meetings.
Refy is my main focus and passion. In his second fiscal year he hit eight figures in sales and now spends most of his time here. I love the whole journey, from each product innovation to customer response.
I love Instagram, but it has become a hobby rather than a full-time job. I am not currently receiving a Refy salary. We invest everything to grow our business. I am fortunate that my work as an influencer provides enough income to do this.
Jenna and I are new to Refy and currently feel like we are creating a huge global brand.