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Bono and Ali Hewson Join a Natural Beauty Juggernaut

Via: The New York Times

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After a week in which Revlon bought Elizabeth Arden and Mayhoola for Investments bought Balmain, now Beautycounter, the California-based natural beauty line, has bought Nude, the natural beauty line founded by Bono’s wife, Ali Hewson, from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Bono will become an investor in Counter Brands, the parent company of Beautycounter, and Ms. Hewson will become a board member.

Details of the deal were not disclosed, but the move forms a potential natural beauty juggernaut at a moment of increasing consumer interest in health, well being and sustainability.

Ms. Hewson characterized the acquisition as the meeting of “soul mates.” She said, “It will allow us to really amplify the message.”

About their first discussion, Gregg Renfrew, chief executive of Beautycounter, said, “It was one of those meetings where everyone just starts talking very quickly.

“Actually, Ali doesn’t talk that quickly, but I do,” she added. “We just realized we had a shared philosophy, and this was an opportunity to take a leadership position in the sector.”

LVMH, which also owns Edun, the sustainable fashion line founded by Ms. Hewson to promote local business in Africa (“trade not aid,” as her husband likes to say), bought Nude in 2011. But the brand had languished since then, a very small fish in a big beauty pond.

By contrast, Beautycounter, founded in 2013 as a for-profit business but certified for its social and environmental performance, grew rapidly and is predicting $225 million in revenue by 2017. Investors include TPG Growth and Jeremy Zimmer of United Talent Agency. The brand is known for its “Never List,” more than 1,500 ingredients it has sworn not to include in its products, as well as its political lobbying for greater oversight of beauty products. Personal care products in the United States are still regulated according to a 1938 bill, much to Ms. Renfrew’s dismay.

Though smaller than Beautycounter, Nude’s global profile (and that of its founders) will be invaluable to Beautycounter, which is available only in the United States and Canada. Ms. Renfrew sees the acquisition as an opportunity to extend both brands’ reach, while also leveraging similar production facilities to mutual advantage.

Although Beautycounter has done select limited collaborations with other brands such as Goop and J. Crew, and will have a partnership with Target this fall, it is based on a direct sales model, with a sales force that could be characterized as a contemporary version of the Avon ladies. It now has more than 20,000 saleswomen around North America. Nude, which has been billed as a luxury line, is sold through retail outlets such as Sephora and SpaceNK.

Consolidation of the message will begin when Nude, which has its headquarters in San Francisco, moves into the Beautycounter offices in Santa Monica, Calif., and Ms. Renfrew becomes chief executive.

As to whether the acquisition is the first step in forming a natural beauty conglomerate, Ms. Renfrew said not necessarily. “We weren’t actively shopping the market,” she said. “It was just about a shared commitment.”

The bet is that the shared commitment will add up to even more than the sum of its parts. Or, rather, its products. Beauty with a mission meets the naked truth. They hope it will be a rockin’ combination.

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Source: New York Times

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