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What does it mean to be an independent beauty brand in Italy?

Interview with Chiara Cubicciotto, founder of Nina Smith

What does it mean to be an independent beauty brand in Italy? Interview with Chiara Cubicciotto, founder of Nina Smith

The world belongs to giants, and there's no doubt about that. We talk about the strength of large companies and big brands in various sectors, and the beauty and cosmetics industry is no exception. However, small, independent, Made in Italy brands are slowly emerging, carving out their space in a world experiencing significant growth, but also subject to major changes. To know more, we had a chat with Chiara Cubicciotto, founder of the beauty brand Nina Smith, who shared her experience with us.

Nina Smith, a brand born from a dream

When did you realize you wanted to create something? Why did you start with mascara?

Creating is part of me and my family roots, regardless of what I am designing. Why mascara? Because I never found one I truly fell in love with. Since eyes are a part of women that I love, my goal is to always enhance them. You can go out without makeup... but never without mascara!

What does it mean to be a small independent beauty brand in Italy?

Let's start with the fact that nothing is easy in Italy, whether you are small, medium, or large. Establishing yourself in this country is a challenge for young people like me. So being an independent beauty brand in Italy means swimming against the tide. But with perseverance, you can get where you want to be.

What are the toughest challenges and greatest satisfactions?

The toughest challenge is reaching the consumer and making them understand that it’s a Made in Italy product. The greatest satisfaction is when I find girls who are on their fifth or sixth order and are loyal to Nina Smith.

Does the beauty industry welcome small brands or tend to push them away, in your experience?

The industry welcomes everyone. Naturally, small beauty brands struggle more, especially when the idea comes from a dream. Then you face reality, and that’s where you need to be practical. You have to know how to resist. In my experience, I can't say I am accomplished yet because I always want more.

There’s talk of offline experiences and the weakening of online shopping. Do you think the future of beauty lies in in-person experiences and community?

I think that being a generation that currently relies on online shopping, it is increasingly complicated to act differently. We order everything online, even food. Even though I always rely on the experience of a friend or my mother who tells me about a product she has tested and likes, someone who is loyal to it.

How important are social media presence and relationships with content creators for a brand like yours?

Today, social media are the shop windows of many years ago and they certainly have significant weight. Content creators matter less today than during the boom. Today, you need to be credible; having many followers does not necessarily mean conversion. I prefer following a girl with 10k followers rather than one with 1 million who is paid to say what she doesn't even believe. I might love Jennifer Lopez who promotes a product, and I might even buy it. But if I don't actually like it, I'll quickly change just as the market around us changes. I repeat, I trust my neighbor with a nice lipstick or a good perfume more.

What kind of person do you have in mind when creating Nina Smith products? How important is the relationship with the customer to you?

The person I have in mind when I think of Nina doesn't have a specific age... she is simply a woman, a girl approaching the world of beauty, who loves taking care of herself and her look and who takes a moment in her daily life to think about herself, never neglecting herself. I believe the relationship with the customer is the foundation for success. I love taking care of them, responding to emails and messages. I am honest, often when orders are from Naples, I make the deliveries myself.

What would you advise someone who wants to follow this path? What's in Nina Smith's future?

I advise everyone to pursue the path they believe in and to be tenacious, because it takes time to achieve good results, and time eventually pays off. There is always something in Nina Smith's future: there will be more in beauty, but I won't limit myself to that. I wouldn't be surprised if in the future I launched a line of jams.

What future is there for independent brands in Italy?

In short, in Chiara Cubicciotto's words, there is space for independent brands, and it should be seized with tenacity and determination. The data supports her. According to research, indie beauty is growing stronger and even driving a part of the sector, pushing it to innovate and creating a constructive dialogue for all, amidst new challenges in beauty tech and AI-driven personalization.