NEW YORK — What’s in a name? For beauty entrepreneur Kathleen Molyneaux, the answer is change.
This story first appeared in the August 30, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
After amassing five brands during nine years in the business, Molyneaux has renamed the umbrella company that covers the quintet. Formerly known as Irving Rice, Molyneaux’s firm is now called Suite K and includes Linda Cantello, Alexandra de Markoff and Skirt cosmetics; Irving Rice mirrors, and Rigaud candles. It had $15 million in wholesale sales last year.
Molyneaux has also dropped her middle name, Croddick, a moniker familiar in many beauty circles. But that’s not to suggest a disconnect from her roots: summers during high school and college spent working for CEI, the manufacturer and filler of beauty products owned by her father, John Croddick.
“You learn so much about the business through the back end,” Molyneaux acknowledged. She added, however, that her aspirations weren’t on the “un-glamorous” manufacturing side and instead decided to “take [beauty] to the stores.” So, with private backing, she purchased the U.S. distribution rights for German mirror producer Irving Rice in 1993. Today, the brand of mirrors that gave the company its original name is now Suite K’s most profitable division.
Molyneaux hopes Suite K will achieve high-single-digit growth by yearend through individual brand initiatives. These include more QVC appearances for Alexandra de Markoff, which accounts for half of Suite K’s annual net sales. During its hour debut on QVC in June, Alexandra de Markoff reaped a $700,000 windfall, selling out in 40 minutes, sources said.
Linda Cantello Cosmetics is also seen as a growth contributor. The brand’s distribution base will be expanded from 23 doors to about 30 doors by yearend. And Molyneaux’s own creation, the two-year-old line of fragrances, shower gels and body lotions known as Skirt, has added lip color sets to capitalize on the trend in cosmetic skits.
SUITE K BRANDS
Irving Rice: Kathleen Molyneaux acquired U.S. distribution rights for the 74-year-old German mirror company in 1993. The brand’s 140 total stockkeeping units range in price from $26 to $500 and are carried in roughly 3,000 U.S. doors, including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.Rigaud: U.S. distribution rights for the 52-year-old line of French candles were acquired in 1996. The brand’s 55 total sku’s retail from $27.50 to $75 and are sold in roughly 3,000 U.S. doors, including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.Alexandra de Markoff: The 70-year-old cosmetics, skin care and fragrance brand was acquired in 1997. Its 200 sku’s are priced from $5.50 to $125. U.S. distribution includes roughly 120 department and selected specialty store doors, including Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.Skirt: Molyneaux’s own line of fragrances, cosmetics and bath-and-body care products was launched in 2000. The line’s 14 sku’s are marked for retail between $11 and $25. U.S. distribution includes about 20 doors, including Bloomingdale’s and Anthropologie.Linda Cantello Cosmetics: The first cosmetics line for makeup artist Linda Cantello, who is also YSL Beauté’s artistic adviser for makeup, was launched last year. Roughly 150 sku’s retailing for $15 to $68 are distributed to 23 U.S. boutiques and specialty stores.