It's been five years since I opened the Truth In Aging store and it is a cause for celebration and reflection. The decision to sell products reviewed by the community was not taken lightly and it transformed Truth In Aging from a blog to a business. And so my reflections begin with the business context — in media, beauty and retail — that we are in. Times aren’t just changing. They are cataclysmic.
A few days ago, I was with a group of women with deep connections to media and beauty. Our discussion was sobering. We noted that magazines were all but dead. Indeed, Facebook’s advertising revenue (during the five years that Truth In Aging has had a shop) has overtaken (by a long chalk) the entire consumer magazine business in the US. Traditional media still has some influence, but there are now new influencers online, on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. They are where the action is and they have changed the business model. When once beauty brands would buy an ad (in a magazine or on a website), they now buy an article.
Yes, most of the influential beauty bloggers and websites are operating a payola business model. The brand is paying for a nice article to be written about them. It is advertising masquerading as honest to goodness content. By the way, there is only a sliver of daytime TV left that isn’t payola. If you think the world was always like this, trust me (I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years), it is much worse.
With this trend emerging, an online store seemed to me to be the most transparent business model that Truth In Aging could adopt. We review products, write an honest review and, if we like it, we offer it for sale in our store. Every day I am asked whether we’ll take payment for writing reviews and every day I say no.
I am very proud of the Truth In Aging store. It is unique. It is curated by members of our community, it is stocked by products that work and do as little harm as possible and we give exposure and support to a myriad passionate, talented independent potion makers.
The business of being a store can be daunting. There are all the logistical issues of inventory management and shipping. We try to get great deals on hard to find products and that has an impact on margins. This leads to the other big trend that has evolved during the five years that we have had the Truth In Aging store: discounts, flash sales and the big flame outs. Daily sale sites and Amazon’s pricing policies have created a consumer market that expects a bargain. All to the good, except when the model becomes unsustainable and we are now witnessing the demise of Gilt, One King’s Lane, Fab and many others.
There is more to the Truth In Aging store than getting a deal. People come to us for information, for the truth about what works and what doesn’t. I am always struck by the candor and emotion that people convey when they ask for advice on what to buy. We hear so many stories, some uplifting, some heartbreaking, some thankful when our recommendations have helped. All are from women (and a few men) on a quest to look better and feel better about themselves. And this is what makes the Truth In Aging store more than just a shop.
The past five years have been an amazing journey in a rapidly changing world. I have a very strong feeling that this is just the start and the next five years will see many more shifts in the landscape. All I can do is brace myself, thank you all for your loyalty and stick to the truth.
What has Truth in Aging done for you over the years? I'd love to hear your #TIATruth in the comments and on social media!