NEW YORK — Burt’s Bees, what a tease. After tempting the industry for three years with talk of an all-natural cosmetics line for the eye, the company is now delivering the goods.

Beginning this week, Burt’s Bees Wings of Love Cosmetics will ship to stores its new quartet of eye colors and trio of eye pencils. The introduction rounds out the company’s Wings Of Love Cosmetics collection, which entered the marketplace in 1999. Wings of Love now generates $10 million in annual retail sales — nearly 10 percent of the company’s overall retail sales, say Burt’s Bees executives. The eye collection is expected to generate $1.5 million at retail from August until the end of 2002, and could end 2003 with $3 million in retail sales.

The All-Natural Eye Shadows are made from vitamin E, sunflower oil, beeswax and rosemary extracts. Colors for the creamy shadows are derived from plant pigments. The shades are named for emotions, such as Trust, a shimmery sage green; Patience, a natural brushed silver; Safe, a pearlized silver blue; and Understanding, a soft lilac. The company believes the creamy formulation flatters young, as well as mature skin. The eye shadows will retail for $9.

Eye pencils are available in three colors, light brown, dark brown and black. Formulated with Japan wax, a type of natural wax that comes from a berry, the pencils "allow the user to make a fine line without it pulling or dragging on the skin," says Sonne Justice, director of training for Burt’s Bees. The pencils were designed to define brows as well as eyes, and will retail for $9.

Justice said the company will not follow a seasonal color story for its eye products, but instead will introduce six more eye shadow colors in the future.

The firm launched Wings Of Love Cosmetics in spring 1999 with seven all natural lipsticks shades. Since then, the collection has been enhanced with lip shimmers, lip pencils, blushing crèmes, tinted moisturizers, concealing crèmes and loose powder. The introduction of each was staggered over the past three years not because the company isn’t savvy — retail sales company wide could reach $90 million for 2002 — but because of the challenges one faces in creating all natural beauty products. "We don’t just want our products to look good, they have to offer a treatment. That’s why formulas, not only for cosmetics, always include ingredients such as grapeseed extract, shea butter, royal jelly and sunflower oil," said Justice.Indeed, Roxanne Quimby, the company’s president and co-founder, is dedicated to preserving Burt’s Bees high all-natural standards. Quimby has even taken her earth-friendly lifestyle outside of the beauty industry. Her efforts include encouraging companies to buy up acres of forest land in Maine, where she resides, to preserve its green landscape. Quimby has purchased 15,000 acres to-date with company profits.

Burt’s Bees has also been busy launching new products to fatten its personal care portfolio. A new line, called Healthy Treatment, is a collection of products designed to promote healthy skin. Within Healthy Treatment is Pore Refining Mask, Parsley Blemish Stick, Royal Jelly Eye Cream, Shea Butter Décolleté Creme and Marshmallow Vanishing Creme. Prices range from $8 for the Blemish Stick to $15 for the Royal Jelly Eye Cream. Quimby tapped Tracy Adler, the red-headed model for the new collection, when dining in an Asheville, N.C.-based restaurant, owned by Adler and her husband. Apparently Adler had been playing hostess on the night Quimby dined there, and a modeling deal was made.

Quimby may be spontaneous when choosing models for her multimillion dollar beauty brand, but when it comes to distribution she’s cautious — so as to maintain the cult-like image her brand has established. Burt’s Bees is sold in 9,000 retailers nationwide, including Whole Foods Markets,Longs Drug Stores, and specialty retailer Anthropology. Currently, Quimby is testing Burt’s Bees in 40 Shop & Save stores in the New England area. She’s also contemplating meeting with Target, which reportedly is looking to beef up its beauty brand selection (see page 14 for related story.)

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