This is Part V of The Kylie Kronicles, our ongoing series on Kylie’s blossoming beauty empire. Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV ,Part VI , Part VII and Part VIII.

Kylie Jenner launched Kylie Skin on May 22nd with much fanfare. Kylie’s second brand was meant to be the culmination of the many lessons Kylie learned building Kylie Cosmetics, which relied on Seed Beauty’s infrastructure and Kylie’s social media distribution to make it the fastest-growing direct-to-consumer brand ever.

Kylie Cosmetics launched in November 2015 and sold its products exclusively direct-to-consumer. But for the 2018 holiday season, it launched exclusively in Ulta, its first wholesale partner, ending a three year, direct-to-consumer-only quest. The main reason for the strategy shift was slowing online sales, which led the brand to turn to promotions to drive demand and offload supply. Ulta provided a somewhat new audience for Kylie Cosmetics that also made its products more accessible to shoppers. For Kylie, it meant more consistent demand, which can lead to better forecasting and smoother cash flow and operations—but also lower margins since Ulta needs to take its cut.

Fast-forward to earlier this month when Kylie somewhat surprisingly announced that Kylie Skin was launching in Ulta on September 22nd, only five months after the brand hit the market. This move has a number of implications:

  • Based on the lessons from Kylie Cosmetics, Kylie is aware of the limits of growing online-only and wants to build a more durable business, which she can do with Ulta. Either online sales for Kylie Skin so far have been lackluster, which led her to accelerate the Ulta rollout, or she wants to build a longer-lasting type of business than Kylie Cosmetics.
  • While moving into Ulta so early means lower margins, the constant source of demand—it doesn’t fluctuate entirely based on how many times she posts on social media—is important. This reliance on social media meant Kylie had one of the most fickle consumer brands. Her pregnancy in 2017 led her to take six months off from social media, which had a materially negative effect on Kylie Cosmetics’ sales. Wholesale, on the other hand, provides some semblance of consistency.
  • While Kylie Skin has struggled to keep products in stock—likely an artificial constraint—Ulta allows the brand to maintain consistent inventory levels, which is essential for a skincare brand that is built on replenishment.
  • But since Kylie Skin relies on different infrastructure than Kylie Cosmetics—the latter relied on Seed Beauty to do almost all of the work—moving into Ulta so early puts more pressure on Kylie Skin’s new supply chain to constantly manufacture product and ship it on time.

Quickly moving into wholesale after launch also dovetails with the strategic shifts other brands are making. It took Harry’s multiple years to launch into wholesale, but Flamingo, its second brand, made the same move only four months after launch. Harry’s was likely feeling the same headwinds that Kylie is, and saw a better, more stable future working with Target and other key accounts versus relying solely on its marketing team to drive demand. Even the brand Oars + Alps, which is much smaller than both Kylie Skin and Harry’s, launched into Target earlier this year and was acquired for $20 million a few weeks ago, most likely because of its positive performance at Target.

Moving into wholesale usually benefits every brand, even though it requires one to adjust its scaling, margin and marketing expectations. Given the direction digital marketing costs are trending—up, up and up—more brands will likely follow suit.