The SIGN Tribe: ‘We are rebels in the beauty market’

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

The SIGN Tribe's first product - an acetone-free nail polish remover cream - is a 'disruptive' start, it says
The SIGN Tribe's first product - an acetone-free nail polish remover cream - is a 'disruptive' start, it says

Related tags: Indie beauty, start-ups, Innovation, Nail care

German start-up The SIGN Tribe has developed an acetone-free nail polish remover cream and built up a quirky alternative to what it calls a perfectionist beauty industry.

Formed last year as an incubator brand within German cosmetics major Cosnova, The SIGN Tribe came to market with its acetone-free nail polish remover cream which uses a blend of nourishing oils and propylene carbonate as the active removal ingredient. Available online and in stores across Germany, the UK and US, the ‘Remove and Chill’ cream retails for around €15 euros.

The start-up has a solid product launch line up pegged for 2020, with around six launches planned across a variety of categories and it is also in discussions with global retailers and distributors for expansion.

Shaking up a boring beauty market

Asked what prompted the formation of The SIGN Tribe, senior brand development manager Anika Höflich said it came from a desire to disrupt and freshen up a uniform industry.

The SIGN Tribe team have a wealth of collective beauty experience
The SIGN Tribe team have a wealth of collective beauty experience

“The SIGN Tribe is a tribe, a group of (currently) all girls, who have been working in the beauty industry for several years. All of us have worked for a minimum of ten years in the industry and we were just bored by what we experienced and what we saw,”​ Höflich told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

“…All this beauty business – even when you go to these Indie fairs – it’s always too serious, in our opinion. With our booth, for example, we have sofas and ‘chill’ chairs just freshening up all this too-serious attitude we have sometimes in the beauty industry.”

The SIGN Tribe initially launched the nail polish remover cream as ‘Nailflix and Chill’ but following a legal case with the worldwide entertainment chain re-branded ‘Remove and Chill’ just three months after launch.  “Now we can laugh about it, but at the time it was a real challenge for our young brand (…) We are happy we survived as a brand and it made us stronger.”

Höflich said what The SIGN Tribe would remain focused on as it grew was providing an alternative to the “perfectionist approach” ​so common in beauty. Although, the company would not be following beauty trends for the sake of it, she said.

A ‘rebel’ beauty mindset

The SIGN Tribe is taking on a rebel mindset in beauty
The SIGN Tribe is taking on a rebel mindset in beauty

“You have this minimalist packaging trend – every brand jumps on it – or you have this organic trend, but in the end, where is the brand USP? What we tried to do is tackle it more from a mentality perspective, saying ‘we are the rebels in the beauty market’,” ​Höflich said.

The brand had already demonstrated this through a “disruptive”​ first product launch, she said – “it’s a really disruptive product; it disrupts your manicure routine from scratch”.

Asked if subsequent product launches would be equally disruptive, she said: “It is big footprints that we have created, and we want to and have to step into these. Everyone is looking at what we’re going to launch next, it’s super hard (…) A product that does not exist is super hard to find, but you can just check what there is on the market and find a product you can maybe apply [more easily] or that gives you a more relaxed application routine.”

What would “definitely not”​ be seen, she said, was a standard 500-range lipstick offering.

“We all have so much experience in the beauty industry that we think we can find the niches and gaps in the market where there is still room for improvement.”

UK and US of growing importance

Höflich said the product and brand concept had, so far, been very well received in the UK – a market the company would try and deepen its presence in, beyond BeautyMART where it was already listed.

The US – a market it launched into at the beginning of this year – was also promising, she said.

“The US is really growing and growing. We launched there with our partner Ulta Beauty and we had a super successful launch. We have distribution in 500 stores and online. We have the feeling that, currently, the US is our market – it’s what our brand is made for.”

US consumers, she said, were comparatively more open to beauty innovation than those in Europe, especially The SIGN Tribe’s home market Germany, as well as more accepting of the price tag.

“We’re really trying to grow organically and get our products into the right hands,” ​she said.

Related topics: Brand Innovation, Colour Cosmetics

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