Travel does indeed inspire many business ideas.
This story first appeared in the October 28, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Take Julie Macklowe, a former hedge fund manager, who in 2008 was traveling to France to attend a friend’s wedding when at the airport security gate her entire toiletries bag was confiscated. Upon arriving in France, Macklowe, who describes her skin as healthy yet sensitive, replaced her regimen with “expensive French brands,” which she was unfamiliar with — only to break out from many of the potions she had purchased. The whole event led her to take a break from the money business and instead try her hand at beauty and launch a skin care line that she — and others — could travel with.
Recently, Macklowe, lunching on a cheeseburger and fries at ABC Kitchen in Manhattan, clad in black leather and just a touch of eyeliner, discussed her new endeavor, called vbeauté, which was two years in the making. Using her connections to become acquainted with some of the movers and shakers in the beauty industry — she was named a Vogue “It” girl in 2008, after all — Macklowe visited suppliers both globally and domestically to create a skin care collection that uses the Swiss botanical stem cells from the Alpine Rose plant in an antiaging complex that was designed to be safe for even the most sensitive skin. The complex was developed by molecular biologists at CRB High Performance Lab of Geneva, which she said discovered a bicellular peptide that aims to boost primary collagen proteins while inhibiting the loss of existing collagen levels. Clinical studies, she said, have found that, within 30 days, users can see up to 25 percent reduction in lines and wrinkles.
Vbeauté includes Evidence Eraser (antiage cleanser), Rub Off (cleanser-exfoliator), Undercover Agent (an age-delay serum), Eye Never (vbeauté’s hero item, one that looks to fight lines, reduce puffiness and lighten dark circles) and Buying Time (day and night moisturizer).
Vbeauté also has the It Kit, a travel-size skin care regimen packaged in a sleek, reflective plastic clutch, and full-size versions of each, and targets women aged 25 to 55. It is paraben free, fragrance free and is not tested on animals.
Macklowe has an impressive retail lineup: 30 Nordstrom stores, 60 Space NK stores in the U.K., Bergdorf Goodman, Jeffrey, Maxfield and Fred Segal. Online partners include Birchbox, BeautyBar and Beauty.com. Vbeauté enters Bergdorf Nov. 25. It will also be sold on vbeaute.com.
Price points range from $18 for the Rub Off to $135 for Undercover Agent. The It Kit sells for $165.
Macklowe has just completed raising funds for the line, which counts herself among 10 investors. Coming from a financial background, Macklowe said her financial model is 40 pages long; she expects her line to generate between $3 million and $5 million at retail in 2012.