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LOS ANGELES — John LaBonty, formerly vice president and general manager of international for Smashbox Cosmetics, has joined Boldface Group Inc., the Santa Monica, Calif.-based celebrity beauty licensing company, as president and chief executive officer.
This story first appeared in the March 28, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Nicole Ostoya, who cofounded Boldface with Robin Coe-Hutshing and served as its ceo until LaBonty’s hire, will transition to the position of chief marketing officer.
“John brings incredible operational and leadership skills to the company. We have done over $8 million in the last 12 months, and we needed somebody that had broader experience to help the company grow into the size we think it can be,” said Ostoya. “We always envisioned bringing on somebody once we got to a certain growth point, and we had the good fortune of meeting John in early January, and the timing was right. We are getting ready for very big international expansion, and we are expanding domestically, too, and we felt like he was the perfect fit.”
The potential of Kardashian Beauty, the brand Boldface developed and marketed under a licensing agreement with sisters Kourtney, Kim and Khloé Kardashian, drew LaBonty to Boldface. Kardashian Beauty is now available in more than 4,000 doors at U.S. retailers, including Ulta, CVS and Duane Reade. Outside of the U.S., Kardashian Beauty has spread to Australia, South Africa and the European Union, and will soon enter the Middle East.
LaBonty sought the advice of Budd Taylor, who was the president of Smashbox when it was sold to the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. in 2010, before signing on to Boldface. “He felt that this opportunity had the most upside for me,” said LaBonty. “When you look at different brands and companies, it is not that frequently that you can find one that you can look at and see a very rapid opportunity to expand the business. I think we can rapidly grow this company. This is a business you can come into and make a tremendous impact, and very quickly drive top-line and bottom-line growth.”
LaBonty asked Ostoya to remain with Boldface to leverage her marketing know-how. “I felt her vision was important to the company. I wanted continuity in the business,” he said. “She knows all the brands that we are either developing or have in the market right now, and I just felt for a lot of reasons that it was the right thing to do.”
In fall 2012, Boldface launched Khroma Beauty by Kourtney, Kim and Khloé, but the brand’s name was changed to Kardashian Beauty last year. Boldface has been enmeshed in a legal dispute with Lee Tillett Inc., which markets Kroma cosmetics products, since 2012. Through sales of Kardashian Beauty, Boldface generated revenues of nearly $1.97 million and gross profit of $325,960 in the three months ended Dec. 31. During that time, the company also posted a net loss of almost $1.8 million.
In addition to the Kardashian license, Boldface holds the license to develop and market Mario Lopez’s fragrance, and beauty merchandise associated with the plush toy brand Uglydoll. Both of those product launches are expected next year. Ostoya noted that Boldface is in discussions to secure other licenses as well.
“We are not about loading up on a ton of licenses and herding them and burning them. We are more about finding a couple of great licenses and building them to be really big,” she said. “With Kardashian Beauty, we really feel that we are building a brand that has longevity, specialness and unique items, and we want to make it really, really big.”