Posted on November 11, 2019
It’s not cool anymore to look perfect,” says Keri Parker. “But manufacturing a less-manufactured look is often very difficult.”
If anyone can crack the code of the “effortless” beauty myth, it’s Parker. With more than two decades of experience in the space, the beauty industry consultant has been fine-tuning her own magical formula that mainstream brands increasingly covet: indie beauty cred with a dab of media gloss. A Solana Beach resident, Parker has pioneered the clean, organic, and CBD beauty scene in Southern California, drilling down hero ingredients and nimbly sifting through the hype — an ever-potent skill with the veneer of social media.
Having spent six years on-air at QVC, where today she strategizes off-camera, Parker is equal parts brand decoder and clairvoyant, spotting a successful product “a mile away.” Considering the $5.6 billion beauty category shows no signs of slowing, it’s prime time. Her next targets are not the traditional shelf space. Online, she’s facilitating Amazon’s new wave of niche beauty brands, and on the brick-and-mortar front, she’s rescuing hotels, spas, and high-end boutiques from sameness by stocking rising stars.
“Brands want to be accessible but maintain a level of exclusivity,” says Parker.
Today, venture capitalists can be overheard debating the merits of cult-y creams and lip gloss launches while blue-chip titans are nabbing up brands like Drunk Elephant and Lord Jones. Parker is focusing her energy on those that have bottled the real magic, the next gen of May Lindstrom, for example, or Saint Jane.
“Finally, there’s dimming of influencer power on the horizon,” says Parker. “I’m aligning with brands that deserve to make it because of their formula and backstory. Not their influencer budget.”
For this Ohio native, the beauty obsession was there from the start. Parker spent hard-earned babysitting dough at Henri Bendel’s beauty counter, and gained early access into the pink Cadillac world of Mark Kay. “My school bus driver was a Mary Kay rep,” laughs Parker. “She was my lip gloss dealer, and we ended up getting in a lot of trouble. It was my first entrée into swag.”
Back in 2006, Parker disrupted the nail space when she opened Lulu’s, taking the salon concept from strip-mall obscurity to a luxury experience nearly a decade before #manimondays were a thing. The South Park storefront was one of the first on the West Coast to offer clean nail polish, ceremonial pedicure treatments, and graphically edgy nail art, now ubiquitous.
As a business owner, she was shocked to see how slow the beauty industry pivoted on product development to meet changing needs. Today, it’s the very foundation of Parker’s anti-agency approach, where she goes deep in the trenches of product development from concept to sale. The most valuable? Helping clients get out of their own way to identify an emotional connection with consumers.
“It’s really an extension of what advertising has always done,” says Parker. “It’s an attempt to sell things without appearing to do so by being as relatable as possible.”
With that, lip sheen (Charlotte Tilbury) is reapplied. A swipe of concealer (Laura Mercier) glides under the eyes. And naturally, she’s ready for anything. Gillian Flynn
Keri Parker’s Beauty Essentials
How to achieve luster for the holidays is easy as…
Under Eye Rescue Mask, from San Diego-based skincare company Skin Authority, $13 skinauthority.com
Instantly transforms eyes to make you look like you slept 12 hours. It’s my go-to for TV to look awake and refreshed. Legit a miracle product.
NuFACE Fix, $149 mynuface.com
This S.D. brand is always cutting edge, and this targets pesky fine lines around the mouth and eyes in just three minutes.
45-minute Beauty Bomb Treatment, Alexis K, Solana Beach, $195 alexiskbeauty.com
Skin looks so perfect, afterwards you can ditch your foundation.
The Party Peel, The Route, $65 theroutebeauty.com
Immediate, glowing, party-ready skin achieved from a masterful blend of unique acids and an oxygen delivery system that bubbles on contact.
Keri Parker images: Photography by Vincent Knakal