BEAUTIFUL MONEY: Natural baby skin care purveyor Episencial has raised $200,000 through CircleUp in what is believed to be the first equity investment in a consumer products brand made through a crowd-funding Web site. It took Episencial 14 days to raise the capital from 18 accredited investors. “We didn’t know who they all were by any stretch, but several of them have already contacted me post-close and turned out to be absolutely value-add investors. It all of a sudden broadened our network exponentially,” said Kim Walls, chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Episencial. “We got the kind of investor that we would have wanted even without crowd sourcing except that we got them faster.”
Episencial has also raised $300,000 via traditional means from several investors, notably Seventh Generation Inc. co-founder Jeffrey Hollender and Philip Schlein, former chief executive officer and president of Macy’s California. “I truly see Episencial being one of those companies that successfully bridges the gap between naturals and mainstream markets without compromising their values or product quality,” said Schlein.
Episencial, which holds the license to market products with imagery from the book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” has generated roughly $1 million in annual revenues from 12 stockkeeping units priced from $5 to $24, including bestsellers Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35, Soothing Cream and Playful Wash, at 900 stores such as Whole Foods, buybuy BABY, ecomom.com and diapers.com.