RICHMOND, Va. -- A Virginia makeup company got creative in the pandemic, and found a tool they plan to use well into the future.
Finding the perfect shade of makeup was challenging enough before the pandemic, but now many places still have precautions in place that don't allow customers to test products in stores.
"Everything happened so fast. I swear in one day, the world just shut down," said Mary McMahan, marketing director for withSimplicity. "The biggest impact for us was that we couldn't do what we normally did, offer mini makeovers for anyone who walks into the store so they can try it our products. We could no longer offer that. And then all of our testers have been closed. So like foundation testers, blush testers, I powders, literally everything we had to close it. So that's when we start looking for solutions"
withSimplicity is an organic beauty company based in Harrisburg, but they ship products across the country.
"We were created by a mom who was looking for cleaner alternatives to her beauty routine," said McMahan.
In 2020 after six years in business, the small team of women had to get creative after COVID restrictions forced them to temporarily close the doors.
They turned to Facebook.
"I discovered that Facebook has a tool called spark AR where you can create your own filters and upload to your profile. And then people can just go on use them, share them, comment on them and interact with us," said McMahan.
The feature, that would have costs thousands of dollars with a web developer, according to McMahan, was free through the social media platform -- and the feature was accurate because of smart filters created by JMU students.
"So people can tell exactly what color they're wearing and see how it look on their face," McMahan explained.
Facebook said it was intentional about helping small business.
"We've really been a partner when it comes to COVID and reopening," said Head of Public Policy at Facebook for the South/East Region Erica Woods. "We are trying our best to make sure people are able to use our platform innovatively as they let folks know they are back in business."
McMahan said, "Comparing makeup sales from Q3 to Q4, we definitely saw an increase there. And we saw more people purchasing."
And withSimplicity plans to continue using the smart filters long after the pandemic is over.
"Our filters are here to stay. I think we've seen a lot of engagement with them." said McMahan.
A Facebook spokesperson said they have lots of tools available to help small businesses prosper and you can find more about them by creating a business page on the platform.
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