By  on January 4, 2002

NEW YORK -- June Jacobs, one of the pioneers of the clinical skin care category that mushroomed in the Nineties, has returned with a new more feminine and user-friendly line designed to appeal to the wellness trend.

A decade ago, Jacobs teamed up with Peter Thomas Roth to found Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Skin Care and launched a line under that name in 1993 with a distribution of spas, salons and doctors' offices. It won a spot in the trendy and influential Bliss catalog in 1996 and entered Sephora's merchandise mix with the opening of the French perfumery chain's first store in New York's SoHo section in September. In 1999, the brand went into very limited department store distribution with a handful of doors like Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.

Now Jacobs, who is a 50-50 partner with Roth, is planning to launch a new line at the end of this month called June Jacobs Spa Collection. Meant to be used by estheticians in spas and retailed over the counter in those tony resorts, the Jacobs brand represents a sprawling collection of hair, body and skin care products. There are 47 professional products and 70 retail items.

Her distribution target consists of a dozen or so spas plus a handful of specialty retailers, ranging from Fred Segal Essentials in Santa Monica, Calif., to Space NK in London.

Pricing is still being worked out, but Jacobs estimates that among the retail products, 7-oz. cleansers will be priced from $34 to $42 a bottle. Toners will retail for $32 to $38, moisturizers and masks over $50 a piece, eye creams from $40 to $50 and hair shampoos and body products for $20 to $40 per item.

The pricing is a little higher than Peter Thomas Roth, but within the spa realm. Jacobs said her new line is aimed at the upper tier of spas. She declined to discuss figures, but sources indicated that the new spa line could do $7 million to $10 million at retail in its first 12 months, at least 25 percent of the Roth volume, which is estimated at $28 million in retail sales.

Jacobs is chief executive officer of June Jacobs Labs and president of Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Laboratories. Headquartered in Moonachie, N.J., she works with her daughter Rochelle, who is senior vice president and manages the staff and helps her mother with product development.Jacobs explained that the Roth line is more clinical and "doctor-oriented" in its positioning. The Jacobs are designed to be more user-friendly than what is generally found on the market.

"This is more botanically driven," Jacobs noted. "A lot of companies have an aromatherapy line, but it can be based on oils. We pulled the oils out and increased the botanicals. There is a high percentage of botanical extracts in these products."

This is an important characteristic, she noted, because the less oil on the skin, the less chance there will be of clogging pores.

In terms of marketing, the Roth line, with its masculine name, is more suited to a clinical retail environment. Jacobs said she used her name to make the positioning more feminine and retail-oriented. The packaging was designed in France by K Design.

The collection is operating in a category pregnant with possibility. As one indication, the Roth brand was once the top-ranked volume getter in Sephora's wellness category and it still ranks in the top five, according to Shashi Batra, senior vice president of merchandising for the perfumery chain. In terms of skin care-only lines, Roth still places in the top 10.

Although Sephora is associated with fragrance, and color cosmetics is its biggest category, Batra said the single largest brand is Dr. Perricone, the leading high-tech skin care line.

Sephora is not among the Jacobs launch stores, but Batra said he is interested in adding the line one day.

Fred Segal Essentials, however, will have the line. Robin Coe-Hutshing, the owner, said it is very comprehensive and more spa and wellness-oriented with an emphasis on body care. She gave Jacobs high marks for making the products "pleasant to use" and downright friendly. The range is aimed at "a customer looking for an experience that can be taken home."

Coe-Hutshing echoed others in citing the importance of the line's ingredient story. As just two small examples, cranberry was used as an anti-oxidant and cucumber as a soothing agent.

Jacquelyn Helser, skin care manager at Canyon Ranch in Las Vegas, pointed out that many aromatherapy lines have heavy floral scents, "and if you are allergic, they can be too heavy." This line with its lemon and citrus signature scents are much lighter in the perfumery, she said, and "more user-friendly."Cornelia Zicu, head esthetician at the Peninsula Spa in New York, said she had worked with Jacobs in developing the products. "There's a big need," she said, "for products that are natural but not greasy, not oily."

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