NEW YORK — Former indie brand owner and animal lover Poppy King is determined to lead off her first official project for Prescriptives this fall with, well, a roar.

King has long been obsessed with leopard print — and the centerpieces of her new 33-shade lipstick line for the brand are two lipsticks that feature a spotted-print overlay over the lipstick’s actual color.

“My obsession with leopard print started when I was a child,” said the Australian-born King with a laugh. “I used to go to this amazing couture shop in Melbourne with my godmother, and it had this sweeping leopard-print staircase. I think it got mixed in with the whole Cinderella concept for me —?leopard print, from then on, represented the pinnacle of glamour for me.”

The leopard-print lipsticks were created by overspraying the lipstick bullet, then using a laser to cut the leopard print pattern onto the bullet. “It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said King, “but until I began working for Prescriptives, I didn’t have the technology.”

Lipstick has long been a passion of King’s — in fact, it was the reason she founded her own company, Poppy Industries, in 1992 at the tender age of 19. “I couldn’t find the perfect matte lipstick, so I decided to formulate my own,” she told WWD in a 1995 interview. From 1992 to 1998, King ran Poppy Industries, which quickly expanded from her native Australia to the U.S., the U.K and Singapore, among other markets. She took a two-year hiatus after running into strategy issues with her original business partners, Tab and Eva Fried, that sent her company into voluntary receivership. The company was briefly reestablished in 2000 with the partnership of Australian department store executive Adam Trescowthick, before King signed on as vice president of creative marketing for Prescriptives in late 2002. King’s eponymous line is no longer being produced, although King’s extensive experience with lipstick should stand her in good stead in her development duties at Prescriptives.

The 33 new shades for Prescriptives range from mattes and shimmers to sheer formulations. “They’re completely across the board,” said King. “I wanted to give it a really personal signature. I’ve gotten inspiration from buttons, fabrics, flea markets, chasing people down in the Lauder building…everywhere.” Especially important to King: making sure that there is literally something for everyone in the range. “Prescriptives has always been about inclusion and addressing all skin tones, so it was very important to me that there be shades that would work with all skin tones, from Caucasian and African-American to Hispanic and Asian skin tones,” said King. She’s also hard at work on new formulations, although she said, “this one was all about color.”The shade range will be on counter in October in Prescriptives’ full distribution of 850 U.S. department and specialty store doors —?and King is determined to help hand-sell them herself. “I’m doing a roadshow for the entire month of October,” she said of a personal appearance tour that will take her to 20 cities in the U.S. and the U.K. that month. “It’s going to be fabulous getting out there.”

While no national advertising is planned, the launch will be backed by close to 1 million samples and more than 1.5 million mailers, as well as numerous in-store events. King wouldn’t comment on sales projections for the line, although industry sources estimate that the line will generate upward of $4 million at retail in its first year on counter. As well, sources estimate that, fueled by King’s new lipsticks, Prescriptives’ overall lip category will do upward of $28 million at retail in the coming year.

“We are anticipating the most exciting fall season that anyone has ever seen at Prescriptives,” said Pamela Baxter, president of specialty groups worldwide at the Estée Lauder Cos.? “Poppy has reenergized our color category with her passion for lipstick, her fresh perspective and her indie spirit. We are the authority in foundation and now with Poppy on board bringing new life to our color category, we anticipate huge growth in this area.”

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