By  on October 9, 2009

Australian beauty brand Hissyfit, which was acquired last week by new parent company Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, will receive an extra push from Oprah Winfrey’s longtime makeup artist, Reggie Wells, who has signed on as the brand’s international creative director. The move comes as part of the fledgling skin care line’s effort to crack the U.S. market and establish an authority in color cosmetics.

Wells, a 35-year industry veteran who has worked with Beyoncé, Brooke Shields, Janice Dickinson and Halle Berry, among others, has been charged with lending his color expertise to broaden Hissyfit’s core palette and create a makeup collection on behalf of the brand, while also helping promote the line as it targets key points of distribution in the U.S.

“For a little Australian brand to have Reggie’s input means we can expand our brand according to our expertise,” said Hissyfit co-founder Sue Smethurst during a visit to New York last month. “He has Oprah at his fingertips and his artistic background brings a makeup credibility to our skin care line.”

Added Wells: “I can come in and really be creative because this is a growing line.”

Cofounded by Smethurst, a former magazine editor, and Louise Dobson, an Olympic gold medalist, Hissyfit — a 64 stockkeeping-unit line that straddles makeup and skin care — launched last year in Australia with its $49 Saving Face Foundation, a mineral-based, full-coverage foundation that combines antiaging benefits with SPF 50+. In the 12 months since its inception there, the brand, which also includes an antiaging hand cream, lip balm and body cream, has generated roughly $1.5 million in retail sales. Australian Vogue recently lauded the brand as one of the “Next Generation of Cult Products,” featuring it alongside products from Estée Lauder, La Mer and Dermalogica, among others, in its September issue.

In addition to making in-store appearances, as well as possible direct-to-consumer TV appearances, Wells will lead Hissyfit product development initiatives for 2010, including a signature lip palette, a new fragrance for the brand’s $45 Body Double Cream and additional shades of Hissyfit’s Lip Service lip balm and Saving Face Foundation, which will cater to African-American, Latina and Asian skin tones. He will also complete a range of multiuse makeup kits for the eyes, lips and cheeks, called Hissy Kits, due out in 2011 or 2012.

With the help of Wells’ name, Hissyfit is turning its full attention to the U.S. market, where it is targeting the specialty store channel and television shopping networks. Hissyfit is scheduled to open Henri Bendel in February and expects to be available on either HSN or Shop NBC in November.

“I think this brand will perform well,” said Jennifer Miles, senior buyer for beauty at Henri Bendel. “Customers are more savvy about sun protection than ever before. They want daily protection, but can be turned off by putting too many products on their face. This is an all-in-one product that actually looks and feels amazing.”

Hissyfit’s Stateside distribution is extremely limited, available at Beauty Collection and Intuition in Los Angeles, Sharla’s in Dallas and the spa at The Wynn in Las Vegas. The brand is also sold at Dermstore.com and on Hissyfit’s Web site.

Industry sources expect Hissyfit’s global retail sales to surpass $5 million in the next 12 months.

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