NEW YORK — Indie brand Maven Cosmetics is getting ready for a growth spurt.

The three-year-old brand, which has distribution in 15 doors including Marshall Field’s, specialty boutiques and spas, will expand to about 26 doors in 2004 and 50 doors in 2005.

The co-founders of the Chicago-based company, Noreen Abbes and Sandi Hwang Adam, started out all business.

Abbes graduated from ESSEC in Paris with an MBA in luxury brand management and was an independent marketing and branding consultant. Adam was hired at McKinsey Inc., a prestigious management and consulting firm, after earning her MBA in business administration from Duke.

But both still clung to a childhood intrigue with makeup.

Seeking to build first-hand retail and cosmetics industry experience before launching Maven Cosmetics, both women quit their day jobs. Abbes began working for Nordstrom and Adam for Sephora.

The company describes its collection, which has 110 stockkeeping units, as “a luxurious line of multicultural, multi-faceted and multi-stunning products that focus on color and formulation” and are designed to complement every woman’s complexion. Items include: liquid foundation, creamy concealer, loose powder, eye shadow, lipstick, lip gloss, lipliner, powder blush, and nail polish.

“Maven products don’t sit in a clump on your skin,” said Abbas. “They’re very movable and are aimed at the smart cosmopolitan woman who knows what she wants from a product.”

Many products contain vitamin E, aloe, cornflower and algae. The broad concealer palette comprises green, lavender, taupe and brown shades to cover various skin complexions and problems such as rosacea, dark circles and blemishes. Products range in price from $15 to $36 each, except for custom-blended foundation, which costs $50 for 1 oz. Premixed shades are $28.50. Most colors come in shimmer and matte finishes to appeal to both young and mature women.

Industry sources estimate the brand will garner retail sales of about $125,000 for 2003 and should reach about $480,000 in 2004. Promotion for the brand includes sampling and demonstrations at bridal shows and with special appointments at point of sale.

Maven’s fall color collection comprises a peachy-orange eye shadow named “Uranium,” peachy blush named “Orchard” and bright red blush called “Apple Picking.” Holiday offerings will include three different eye shadow palettes, each featuring four colors for $45.— Andrea Zarczynski

On the Go

Although oral care may traditionally be thought of as a bastion of the mass market, tooth whitening products have begun trickling onto beauty counters within prestige distribution, giving brands like MAC and Kiehl’s some company. One of these products, called Go Smile, which was originally launched in Saks Fifth Avenue in spring 2002, is getting a boost — Saks is said to be increasing distribution of the tooth whitening system by an additional 17 stores for a total of 24 doors.

While noting that input from makeup artists has helped shape Go Smile, founder Dr. Jonathan Levine likens the prestige whitening trend to the proliferation of doctor-driven, dermatological skin care brands. Citing data from the market research firm Mintel, Levine said over-the-counter tooth whiteners, a $30 million category two-and-a-half years ago, has mushroomed to $1 billion, the majority of which is done in the mass market.

Go Smile, which was originally developed for dentistry six years ago and used by Levine at his Manhattan practice, is currently distributed — and principally merchandised in and around cosmetics — in about 200 doors, including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Sephora. Go Smile is expected to reach revenues of between $3 million and $5 million next year.

— Matthew W. Evans

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