Negin Mirsalehi turned down an $800,000 deal two years ago to be the brand ambassador of a leading hair-care brand. And she’s glad she did.
The Amsterdam-born influencer, in New York this week to unveil two projects, declined to reveal which brand, but said the fee was immediately increased after she turned down an initial offer of $600,000. Had she signed with the beauty player in question, it could have been one of the most significant deals between a brand and an influencer to date.
The 28-year-old had other plans, though: She was gearing up to start a hair-care line of her own.
Gisou, which Mirsalehi cofounded with her boyfriend of 11 years, Maurits Stibbe, is an entirely self-funded venture that launched at gisou.com in late 2015. Everything in the three-piece collection is formulated with either honey or propolis, another bee by-product akin to “bee glue.” Honey Infused Hair Oil, $84, was the first item she introduced, followed by Heat Protecting Spray, $40, and a Texturizing Wave Spray, $38. A fourth product will bow in November and six more are slated for release throughout 2018. The range generated $1.5 million in sales in its first full year and is on track to reach $3 million in sales in 2017, Mirsalehi said. When the texture spray launched two months ago, gisou.com saw $250,000 in sales within 48 hours — the site’s biggest two days ever.
“My dad is a beekeeper and my mom was a hairdresser and she always experimented with my dad’s honey,” she explained. “We grew up in my dad’s bee garden…She [her mother] came up with a few formulas, one was what’s now our Honey Infused Hair Oil. It was my favorite product.”
Currently, about 90 percent of the business comes from gisou.com, she said, adding that the range is carried at Revolve.com, Urbanoutfitters.com and at three Sauce doors in the Middle East. A team of 15 employees is expected to grow to 25 to 30 next year as Mirsalehi and Stibbe double down on online marketing and supply chain and production.
Mirsalehi’s hair care brand, while growing rapidly, is only part of her expanding empire. She is still on the lookout for a megabeauty deal — as long as it’s not in the hair category.
But in the meantime, her personal brand is still pulling in big bucks. Last year brought in more than $2 million in personal deals for Mirsalehi and this year these are projected to hit $3 million. This includes paid posts, campaigns and ongoing partnerships with Revolve, Cartier and Cluse, the watch company she has been a brand ambassador for since early 2016.
Mirsalehi commands $15,000 to $20,000 for a single sponsored Instagram post. And brands are willing to pay out, as she has 4.2 million followers with average Instagram Story views of 600,000 (she still keeps sponsored content to a minimum, doing just one to two posts of this nature a week). For instance, a niche fragrance brand such as Byredo might fall into the lower end of this spectrum (she did a post about a month ago to launch their new Kabuki Perfume brush sticks), but a company like Volvo reportedly will pony up the full $20,000 for a chance to be featured in the Instagram post of an influencer with Mirsalehi’s reach. (She wouldn’t confirm Volvo’s fee, but an individual with knowledge of the influencer space said this is the going rate for a company the size of the automobile maker.)
Tonight marks the start of a six-month ambassadorship (there are plans to renew) with Brazilian brand PatBo, which comes on the heels of a U.S. launch. In her now role, Mirsalehi will attend a dinner this evening at the Public Hotel (where she will also post to social media), followed by a store opening event in a few months. She wouldn’t disclose financials, but an industry source estimated the deal is in the low six figures.
“We obviously think her style is amazing and she will raise brand awareness, but we do see sales lift when we work with these girls [influencers]. We see it as a two-fold thing,” said Patricia Bonaldi, found and creative director of PatBo, noting that the brand has also worked with Aimee Song, Camila Coelho and Chiara Ferragni.
In the past, Bonaldi explained, there has been a “huge spike” in followers to PatBo’s Instagram following a partnership with a leading influencer.
Later today, Mirsalehi will also unveil a daily, monthlong Fashion Week series, “Negin Mirsalehi: Real Life Daily” on her YouTube channel, where she has 190,000 subscribers. She said the videos will be “really instant” and chronicle each day’s goings-ons, with every episode to be filmed and posted within 24 hours.
“I didn’t want to become the typical YouTuber. I didn’t want to post only beauty-related videos or a lot of the standard videos, like ‘My 10 Beauty Hacks.’ For me, in general starting YouTube was a small risk…we work with a lot of luxury brands and you have to be careful and produce high quality content. It’s something we really talk about,” Mirsalehi said.