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Brave Soldier Marches Into Specialty Stores

NEW YORK — Some guys go for soap and water to nurse the injuries they get from athletic endeavors. <br><br>But if you’re the guys from Brave Soldier, you formulate a product line. <br><br>"This line came about because of road rash," noted...

NEW YORK — Some guys go for soap and water to nurse the injuries they get from athletic endeavors.

But if you’re the guys from Brave Soldier, you formulate a product line.

“This line came about because of road rash,” noted Jeffrey Neal, a partner in the company with Dr. Ezra Kest, the Beverly Hills-based dermatologist who is principal product developer for the company. Both men are avid mountain bikers, who learned early on that sports injuries go with the territory.

The first product, the $12, 1-oz. Antiseptic Healing Ointment, was adapted from a potion that Kest had been developing to use on laser-surgery patients. The duo, who test new products on themselves, soon learned that it was equally effective for scrapes. “It’s sort of like a moist wound therapy,” said Neal. The formula includes tea tree oil, said to be one of nature’s strongest antiseptics.

Along with other members of the band of Brave Soldiers — which include Dan Ginsberg, president, who heads up strategic planning; Leonard Pearlstein, who is guiding the products’ positioning and promotion in traditional and nontraditional channels; Martin Feldberg, whom Neal credits with the company’s initial success in the sports market, and Fred Segal Essentials owner Robin Coe-Hutshing, who began consulting with the brand late last year to redesign packaging and refine new products — Kest and Neal started searching for a market. And they found them, falling off their bikes all over Southern California.

As a result, the Brave Soldier team — the name comes from parents who exhorted their kids to be “brave little soldiers” while their wounds were being cleansed — started marketing the healing ointment at athletic competitions and sporting goods shops about four years ago. After the ointment quickly built market share there, the team decided last year that they wanted to expand both their product offerings and their base of operations, from sports to specialty stores.

While the brand is not planning on bailing out of the approximately 200 sporting goods shops they’re in now —?”We’ll stay there with the Antiseptic Healing Ointment, and with two of the newer items, Brave Shave and First Defense,” said Neal — they’re aiming to enter about 50 upscale specialty stores by yearend, including Fred Segal Essentials, where it is rolling out now, Henri Bendel in late September and Sephora in November.

This story first appeared in the August 16, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The expanded, unisex offerings include: 6-oz. Alpine Shower Gel, $14; 6-oz. Brave Shave, $15; 6-oz. Shower Shave, $15; 4-oz. Brave Face After Shaving Moisturizer, $16; 4-oz. Solar Shield, an SPF 28 sunscreen, $18; 4-oz. Comfort Zone, an aftershaving/afterwaxing gel, $18; a 0.33-oz. tube of Lip Defender, a lip hydrator, $8; 6-oz. Infusion Body and Hand Moisturizing Cream, $15, and 4-oz. First Defense, an antiseptic, $8. While Neal wouldn’t comment on the line’s first-year projections, industry sources estimated that they would do upward of $1 million at retail in the next year. Another five to 10 products are slated to roll out next spring.

“The products use the best available natural ingredients and are formulated to provide short- and long-term skin care benefits for both men and women,” said Neal. “But they aren’t just for hard-core athletes, but also for the people that blend a work week with a little roller-blading or jogging. That’s our heritage, and we’ll stay true to it, no matter where our products are sold.”