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Eyeko Bows in the U.S.

NEW YORK — Eyeko, a U.K.- based beauty brand with packaging reminiscent of Hello Kitty, has come Stateside. But while this line may appear to target teens, it actually enjoys a slightly older fan club of women aged 25 to 35....

NEW YORK — Eyeko, a U.K.- based beauty brand with packaging reminiscent of Hello Kitty, has come Stateside. But while this line may appear to target teens, it actually enjoys a slightly older fan club of women aged 25 to 35.

Eyeko’s founders are husband-and-wife team Max Leykind, who launched and ran Hard Candy in Europe, and Nina Motahar, who served as the brand’s publicist. When Hard Candy was sold to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 1999, the couple in May 2000 launched beauty Web site eyebeauty.com. They also created Eyeko, a pink-haired cyber chick who played host to the site. And when Leykind and Motahar wanted to develop one of their own products to sell on the site, they used Eyeko as their icon and created Eyeko’s Sweet Cream, a scented facial moisturizer formulated with light-reflecting particles. Motahar said developing Eyeko, which means love in Japanese, “incorporates everything we love, like Japanimation.”

Over the next two years, the Eyeko line expanded into 18 stockkeeping units priced from $8 to $19. Products include Gold and Silver Glitter Sticks, which are hydrating, cooling sticks of jelly, packed with micro-glitter particles for use on eyes, lips and cheeks. Eyeko Mascara is packaged in a silver tube with pink writing. A Bubblegum pen is actually a fragrance. And, Make Out makeup palettes come in 1st Base, 2nd Base and 3rd Base. Each contains two eye shadows and a lip and cheek color. The couple plans to keep Eyeko’s product selection tight, but they will launch new color collections seasonally.

In October 2000, the brand hit stores in the U.K., such as Selfridges, Boots Concept Spa, Funky Diva and Sephora, and currently has distribution in about 250 doors. This month, Eyeko began selling in the U.S. in select Nordstrom stores and in Planet Blue in Malibu. Eyeko will roll out to additional Nordstrom doors, boutiques and department stores nationwide next year — but there are plans to keep U.S. distribution limited to about 200 doors. Industry sources estimate the brand will generate $3 million in retail sales in the U.K. next year and $1 million in the U.S.

Tricia Harvey, a cosmetics buyer for Nordstrom, said she was attracted to the brand because it is a “totally different and cute line with potential. The U.S. market needs something fresh that [consumers] ages 25 to 35 will relate to. It is a brand that fits a large age group. [Leykind and Motahar] have an edge on the market with something that’s different. They’ve got the right idea.”

Motahar said another appeal to Eyeko is its pricing. “Our products are 10 to 20 percent lower [in price] than other brands in our category without skimping on innovation and quality.”

Next year, Eyeko will launch in France in Sephora stores.