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When Kim Walls couldn’t find organic body care products for her two young sons, she decided to create her own. Less than a year after founding her fledgling firm, Episencial, she’s poised to add significantly to her door count this fall.
This story first appeared in the September 3, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The brand — already available in select Whole Foods and Target doors, about 300 specialty boutiques and on Drugstore.com, target.com and Diapers.com — will enter Ulta, Buy Buy Baby, Lunds and Harmon’s, bringing the Episencial distribution up to about 720 doors.
“Our point of difference is that we are the first company to deliver clinically effective, newborn-safe products designed to support the essential immune functions of the skin,” said Walls, who is the brand’s chief executive officer and the daughter of the founder of skin care line Epicuren. “Our products are made exclusively from all-natural and organic ingredients, and are chemical free. We are trying to lead the charge in chemical-free personal care products for young children.”
The products are manufactured in the U.S. using solar power and recycled and sustainable packaging, Walls added. All are at least 50 percent organic, and the line includes seven products: Playful Foaming Wash, $8.99; Better Body Butter, $9.99; Nurturing Balm, $10; Protective Face Balm, $5.99; Soothing Cream, $10.99; Sweet Dreams Bubble Bath, $8.99, and Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35, $14.99. They are scented purely with fruit extracts, and are phthalate, BPA and gluten free. They do not contain nanoparticles, she emphasized.
“Organic ingredients have more nutritional value with greater antioxidant capabilities than their nonorganic counterparts,” said Walls. “This is important because of the skin’s transdermal properties. Many nutrients applied to the skin are absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed throughout the body.”
To add kid appeal, Walls partnered with artist Eric Carle to use his famed “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” character on the product bottles. Walls also is adding mom appeal with interactive display units with activities built into the base of the display for kids, with the products merchandised to mom at grown-up height.
“Ulta is entering the mother-baby category in select stores,” said Janet Taake, senior vice president of merchandising for Ulta. “Based on performance, this category could be expanded to all doors. We are excited to introduce the Episencial healthy skin care line in the early-October period.”
Walls said she expects to triple her first-year revenues over the next 12 to 18 months, with a 30 percent increase projected for the next six months. While she declined to discuss numbers, industry sources estimated that the brand does about $2 million at retail.