LOS ANGELES — With a return to a less "corporate" ownership and a venture into bath and body care and perfume, candlemaker Illume appears fired up for its next phase in the marketplace.
The brand, among the pioneers of a thriving category that got consumers spending $40 for a candle and adding up to $2.4 billion in retail sales in 2001, according to Unity Marketing, claims a fervently devoted following for its mouth watering-scented wax works. Illume’s new owners are banking on that success, which reached $14.2 million in candle retail-wholesale sales last year, with three new lines of scented skin care products.
Pharmacie de Luxe by Illume began shipping in June, four months after the management buyout from parent company, Illuminations. The $120-million specialty chain had acquired Illume from founder Lynette Reed in 1998, four years after the former struggling actress started the brand out of a 700-square-foot storefront on Third Street here. (Last year Reed came out of hiatus with a line of single-note fragrances, candles and body products under the Izzy Sayan name.)
Former Illuminations executives led the management buyout of the new entity, called Starlight and Illume Inc. Based in Bloomington, Minn., Starlight manufactures under its name and private label for Victoria’s Secret and other major brands. The two brands had combined wholesale sales of $29 million. Although company representatives declined to comment on the sale, industry sources put the buyout at $25 million.
Backed by John Norton, a shareholder at Illuminations and private equity investor, the new company is also co-owned by president Cory Van Buskirk out of Cincinnati; senior vice president of sales and marketing Scott Leoncini from Santa Rosa, Calif., and chief financial officer Kevin Knepper in Petaluma, Calif.
Illume manufacturing and wholesaling, is based at the 10,000-square-foot Sun Valley, Calif., facility.
"Illumination was such a corporate monolith and we’d always maintained a family environment," said creative director Michael Loring Probst, who has been with Illume since its early days. "We prefer to work with that small business feel but think like a big business."
Retailers such as Sonia Deepak, owner of Illiterature on La Brea Avenue here, believes even consumers noticed Illume had lost a bit of its focus during the Illuminations reign. An Illume resource since Reed started the line, the store has devoted its 375-square-foot loft to the brand. As for the new bath and body line, Deepak is considering carrying it. Illiterature now stocks Thyme Ltd., Fresh 21 Century and Dirty Girl.The shift in ownership, added Probst, "was kind of seamless. If anything we seem to be doing more business." The bottom line should also benefit, he noted, with profits remaining with the brand and lower overhead costs resulting from a new candlemaking system and an updated research and development lab which cut the Sun Valley staff to 96, yet improved efficiency.
Pharmacie de Luxe bowed with a bath gel, hard milled bar soap, mineral salts, body lotion and, of course, an aromatic candle. Wholesale priced from $3.25 to $8, its the kind of innovative scents that have become a hallmark ofIllume such as rosemary grapefruit and rose marjoram.
In November, major retailers who carry Illume candles will get a first sniff at Circa, the company’s first perfume and the maiden product of Illume’s second bath, body and beauty line. The eau de toilette, as well as a heavy body crème, body gel, soap bar and scented candle will officially launch to buyers in March 2003 smelling of Savannah Mandarin, Avalon gardenia, and Buckeye carnation.
Considered the designer line of Illume, complete with packaging that evokes a boutique sensibility, Circa price points only run a couple of dollars more than Pharmacie. The 1.8-oz. perfume bottle, expected to wholesale for about $8, is a small glass bubble with a narrow frosted tube for a cap. Probst describes the packaging as "kind of Old World jazz babyish."
In fact, the company expects the bath and body lines to eventually outsell even the candle line, now carried in 4,500 doors in the U.S. and a handful in the United Kingdom. Combined sales for the bath and body venture are conservatively expected at $1.5 million in 2003. A Pharmacie body scrub and face-friendly moisturizers are expected to be ready by the first half of next year.
But that’s not all. In January, a line of milled bars called Illume Classics based on best-selling candle scents such as gardenia, cucumber, pear, sea and pomegranate will be introduced to retail buyers. The hunky 8-oz. bar, wrapped in a striped wrapper and wholesaling for $5, is positioned as a gift buy.That month, Illume will also bring out Flower Therapy, a line of soy-based candles which will also eventually expand into a soy skin line. The benefits, admittedly, are more about marketing. "Consumers are crazy for soy," said Probst. "They’re asking the retailer for soy products."
A retail expansion is also on the drawing board for the next five years, but no word yet on when or where. Like its Third Street store, it will likely carry multiple candle bath lines not owned by Illume. In the meantime, the original Los Angeles store is getting a makeover in October, as is the Web site, illumecandles.com.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)