NEW YORK — Rachel Perry is ready for a second coming.
This story first appeared in the August 8, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The maker of natural beauty products had an explosion of business in the early Eighties, as the products that bear her name found their way into health food stores and specialty shops, and then onto drugstore shelves across the country.
A singer/songwriter by night and salon worker by day, Perry saw a need for natural skin care products when shopping in a health food store back in the late Seventies. “I saw a couple of miserable creams, and wondered ‘Why hasn’t anyone done anything using botanicals and vitamins and herbs?’ ” So she got down to business and music took a back seat.
But as Perry acknowledges today, with all the financial and backroom support needed to keep a widespread mass market business thriving, “there was no way I could make it, with all the ad dollars [required].”
Over the years Rachel Perry products — easily recognized by their bright multicolored packages with silver trim, retained a niche following of health and natural products shoppers.
With the heightened focus on wellness and beauty, the market has broadened, and Perry is now readying the company to become a bigger player again.
“We are looking to increase distribution, but also upgrade the whole look of the line — and get it in upscale boutiques,” said Perry, speaking by phone from her Beverly Hills home office. “Drugstores are taking skin care much more seriously, and I am working on getting into Duane Reade, but I don’t want to get into too many drugstore chains at once.”
Rachel Perry’s retail sales reached $12 million in 2002 and are expected to hit $15 million by yearend.
Perry markets the Skinnovation collection, a 17-item skin care lineup that includes items like Vegetable Derived Elastin-Collagen Immediately Visible Facelift and Bee Pollen-Jojoba Maximum Moisture Cream. Sea Kelp Herbal Facial Scrub was one of the first products she developed and continues to be one of Rachel Perry’s most popular. She is a true believer in the benefit of exfoliation procedures that “get rid of the top layer of dry skin.”
“I do believe in resurfacing the skin and repeeling. It regenerates the skin tissue. When you get new layers, you get new collagen,” said Perry, adding, “I don’t like the idea of Botox — it is still a poison.” Beside broadening retail distribution, Perry is eyeing home shopping channels or infomercials as other means to reach the public.
In addition to facial skin care, Rachel Perry offers a smattering of foundations, powders, lip balms and body care items.
And while she takes a conservative view to product development, there are introductions this year. “I am not one to add on new products. I would rather renew a formula and rework it than do another product for another product sake.” A skin care system based on color therapy called Rachel’s Radiant Light Color Therapy has been added recently. It contains seven colored spray mists and matching light bulbs, in the colors of the rainbow. Each color is said to influence one of seven energy centers in the body. And Perry is currently working on a new anti-aging collection to be called Age Unknown, which will be geared for department and specialty stores.
An early believer in color therapy and aromatherapy, Perry sees herself as a forerunner. “I am always 20 to 25 years ahead.”
Meanwhile, Perry continues to promote her facial exercise program called Massage-a-Cise. The system is featured in her book “Reverse the Aging Process of Your Face, A Simple Technique That Works.” The book, published by Putnam Penguin, is now being updated.
The company has its own warehouse. Perry said she works with chemists to develop her product formulas, and then selects a manufacturer to make the product.
During her 25 years in the business, Perry said she has been “offered to be bought many, many times but I never would. This is my soul, my life, my love.”
The natural products movement was never a fad, said Perry. “My 25 years has now come full circle.”