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Shortly after the hoopla surrounding the World Cup subsides, America’s attention will turn to its version of “football.” That’s good news to Jennifer Walsh, founder and creative director of Pride & Glory, a toiletries line bearing the logos of major colleges. The beauty industry veteran, who founded the retail concept The Beauty Bar in 1998, hopes to turn the passion of the nation’s 173 million college sports fans into a bustling business.
“It’s a massive market,” said Walsh, who began her career as a celebrity makeup artist and helped nourish many start-up brands at Beauty Bar. “There are not only students, but alumni who have great memories from college.”
Starting in September, her Pride & Glory collection of hand washes, hand lotions, shower gels, body lotions and soaps with licensed school logos will go on sale at college bookstores. The plan is to add other doors, including department stores, airports, hotels and online sports specialty sites. Ranging in price from $10 for soap to $18 for a lotion, the starting lineup of teams is mostly selected from the Southeastern Conference, including the University of Alabama and Vanderbilt University. The effort includes eight universities with plans to add two or three more before the end of the year. Walsh also hopes to expand the product assortment to skin care, hair care, men’s products, candles, cosmetics and even dark chocolate. She also is offering trial sizes suitable for travel.
But to Walsh, the line isn’t just about college pride. Walsh will donate 2 percent of sales back to each school’s local community through Pride & Glory’s charity, Inspiration Nation(s).
“I was moved to create the brand after Superstorm Sandy when I started volunteering, bringing food and clothing to those in need in the Rockaways. I decided I wanted to do something to give back,” said Walsh. She’s been on a whirlwind since creating the line, traveling to the colleges to introduce them to the concept, as well as speaking about entrepreneurship and social responsibility.
She’s convinced there’s a massive audience — including more than 78 million female fans, more than any major sports league. She said many potential consumers are 18- to 24-year-olds, who are motivated to purchase products with a cause.
Florida State junior Jennifer Cheslock is a case in point. A fervent fan, she buys Florida State memorabilia and said she’d buy the logo toiletries for her apartment and for her family. She supports giving back, but one caveat for her is the quality of the product in addition to bearing her team’s Seminole mascot.
Walsh is confident consumers will like and repurchase the products. She said she painstakingly traveled to many U.S. manufacturers to curate the right ingredients for each item, such as sunflower oil extracts, shea butter, olive oil and aloe.
Walsh plans to cheer on the brand on her blog, weekly television segments, guest editorials and through social media. Pride & Glory will also tap student ambassadors at colleges, a strategy that has worked well with fashion and other beauty companies in building demand. Beauty seems to be a new area of interest in the collegiate world. Recently many universities starting carrying fragrances from Masik Collegiate Fragrances with notes intended to reflect the characteristics of the campus. Walsh, however, said Pride & Glory is the first collegiate beauty brand.