Protea Investments’ fund parameters envision a sweet spot for the size of its investments at between $25 million and $100 million focused in the luxury sector.
The fund also plans a carefully chosen portfolio of small to midsize lifestyle fashion brands. Fashion is used loosely to mean more than just apparel and accessories, as the investment criteria for lifestyle fashion also includes both beauty and home decor. The fund recently completed its first investment in upscale home decor brand Serena & Lily that’s inspired by the California lifestyle.
Protea was founded last year by Christine Beauchamp, formerly brand president of Ann Taylor and chief executive officer of Victoria’s Secret Beauty, and Kearnon O’Molony, formerly a managing director at Blackstone Private Equity Group.
According to Beauchamp, “Protea is about the next generation of great fashion brands. Now is the ideal time to build a carefully curated portfolio of small to midsized consumer brands.”
Brand investment criteria, besides a company that needs funding at a “critical juncture” of growth, include high loyalty among consumers and an aspirational point of view, she said. While relatively younger brands fit the criteria, so too can some heritage brands depending on where they are on their individual life-cycle time line.
The fund is backed by “strategic family office capital,” Beauchamp said, explaining that this group of investors has a “deeper point of view.”
Beauchamp said the curation mandate “allows us to be very patient. The way we view brand building is to invest and partner with the brands to develop both breakthrough and sustainable growth.”
Although there are many private equity firms out there seeking brands to acquire or invest in — as well as new ones such as Front Row Partners, the new venture between Glen Senk and Berkshire Partners — Beauchamp said Protea doesn’t have any direct competitors.
“We’re not venture capital nor are we private equity. We are brand growth investors who have the backing of family offices that are patient about timing and open to investing in smaller brands so we can more substantially engage in the businesses and categories,” she said.
Beauchamp brings operating experience to the table, particularly with brand building, while O’Molony provides the financial acumen and deal-orientation expertise to the firms Protea invests in.
In the case of Serena & Lily, both Beauchamp and O’Molony will join the company’s board.
“It is an authentic, design-driven brand with a highly loyal customer following and significant growth potential. We look forward to partnering with the founders and leadership team to realize the tremendous potential inherent in this inspiring lifestyle brand,” O’Molony said.
Lily Kanter, cofounder and ceo of Serena & Lily said, “After a thorough process, we have found a partner who is uniquely focused on brand-building and omnichannel growth, with an entrepreneurial and innovative bias.”