The secret to Ulta Beauty’s (and CEO Mary Dillon’s) success

October 15, 2015, 9:36 PM UTC
Courtesy of Fortune

In the last 12 months, retailer Ulta Beauty’s revenue has gone up 21%. The company’s stock, meanwhile, is up 65% since CEO Mary Dillon took over in the summer of 2013. And instead of closing shops, like many brick-and-mortar retailers have been forced to do, Dillon plans to open 100 more stores per year.

How is Dillon bucking the trend? She answered this question Wednesday at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C.

“What we are doing is, with the exceptional talent in our stores and my executive team, aligning around the purpose of bringing all things beauty all in one place,” Dillon told the audience. “We’re just playing offense. We’re opening 100 stores a year, setting the right investor expectations and delivering against that and offering a great experience to discover beauty for those who love beauty.”

Ulta, based outside of Chicago, operates more than 800 stores in 48 states. The company employs about 25,000 workers—94% of them are women. One of Ulta’s differentiators is that it offers more complete and high-end products than mass market drugstore chains, but is still more affordable than Sephora or department stores like Macy’s. The beauty retailer also offers salon services at its locations.

Dillon, who was raised in the South Side of Chicago and was the first in her family to attend college, has another ingredient to her secret sauce: A stay-at-home husband who plays the “lead parent” role for their four children.

“It was the best thing we could have ever done,” Dillon told the Most Powerful Women audience. “Most Americans actually need to have both people working, and it’s a luxury and something to celebrate if you can make a choice like this. And this choice isn’t for everyone. But it’s nice to not have to worry about what time does daycare close.”

Another speaker at the conference, New America Foundation president and author Anne-Marie Slaughter, also talked about “celebrating” men who take the lead parenting role. (Slaughter noted that 50% of men graduating with MBAs today plan to put family ahead of career at some point, and that Millennial men are more likely to spend more time with their children than previous generations.)

During Dillon’s interview, moderator and Fortune assistant managing editor Leigh Gallagher asked how many of the women in the audience also had stay-at-home partners. Nearly half of the women in the room raised their hand.

As for other secrets, Dillon also shared one of the hottest new beauty trends: Strobing. According to Dillon, who knows a thing or two about beauty products, it’s the new contouring. Now you know.

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