By  on September 12, 2013

Kerri Walsh Jennings and Skin Authority have formed what they hope will be a winning team as the skin-care brand extends into new distribution to court customers.

The beach volleyball player and three-time Olympic gold medalist is the first celebrity spokeswoman for Skin Authority, and she represents the brand’s commitment to health inside and out as it launches at nutrition retailer GNC this month. GNC will be the largest retail partner for the 10-year-old Carlsbad, Calif.-based brand, which has exceeded $10 million in annual sales primarily by focusing on high-end spas and specialty stores, and its own e-commerce.

Skin Authority is rolling out six-foot-by-two-foot — coincidentally, that’s Walsh Jennings’ height — displays with 21 stockkeeping units and images of the athlete to about 30 GNC doors this month before adding another 30 to 60 every 60 days on its way to blanketing the chain’s more than 6,200 U.S. locations. “They have dabbled in beauty with certain brands, but haven’t had a commitment to it as the core of their business the way they have with our brand,” said Celeste Hilling, chief executive officer and founder of Skin Authority.

Walsh Jennings, who graced ESPN The Magazine’s body issue in the buff nine weeks after giving birth to a daughter, isn’t shy about having her likeness plastered all over GNC. “I’m excited. GNC is amazing. They align themselves with good products. I love that you can go in there and talk to the people who work there who are knowledgeable. You get great feedback, and Skin Authority puts a premium on people getting good guidance,” she said.

Even before Walsh Jennings signed on to be a spokeswoman for Skin Authority, Hilling was her skin-care mentor. “I’ve been her skin-care coach for five years. We have really gone out and helped to get her skin in optimal health. She loved that experience and really wants to be an advocate,” said Hilling. Walsh Jennings elaborated, “I don’t want to have to play something up if I don’t believe in it. I want it to be more than an endorsement. I’m comfortable telling the public: This is what I do in my daily life.”

Dealing with skin that’s constantly exposed to the elements because of her chosen sport, Walsh Jennings, an admitted skin-care junkie known to hit Sephora and stock up on products with the latest hot ingredients, learned from Hilling that she should be consistent in her use of the right products for her skin. Some of her favorites from Skin Authority are Super-C Serum, Brightening Serum, Sunscreen Moisturizer SPF 30 and Age Defying Moisturizer.

“Celeste gave me a program. That was huge to me because I don’t have time for products to be ineffective, and I was doing ineffective things because I was basically ignorant,” said Walsh Jennings. “We all want results, but Celeste said, ‘Kerri, this is a commitment. You have to commit to this. What can you commit to daily?’ I said, ‘Celeste, I’m committed.’ I committed myself to five steps in the morning and four steps at night, and people have been like, ‘What are you doing to your skin?’ It is paying dividends.”

Of course, skin care isn’t the only thing on Walsh Jennings’ mind. She’s a busy mom to three kids and is training to go for a fourth gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “It is a full sprint every single day Monday through Friday, and on the weekends, we have tournaments.…Time management is huge,” Walsh Jennings exclaims. It might take a lot of scheduling to fulfill her personal and professional goals, but she doesn’t think she’ll put down the volleyball anytime soon. “There is more I want to accomplish in the sport. It’s not to outdo anybody. It’s just because I have so much more room for improvement, and I want to see what the next level of success is,” said Walsh Jennings.

Skin Authority is reaching for the next level of success too. With the exception of 2007, Hilling said that the brand has registered yearly growth of 25 to 30 percent in each of the last nine years. The brand is carried at roughly 275 doors in the U.S., but that number will rise quickly as it spreads across GNC and enters other retailers. Skin Authority also is planning to break into the device category next year.

“We are very purposeful. You don’t see us jumping into every mass retailer. We want to make sure that we are not a flash in the pan and that we can truly sustain the business,” said Hilling.

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