Jeanne Chavez and Dineh Mohajer have been in business together since Chavez met Mohajer at her Beverly Hills office 25 years ago. In late-1990s entrepreneurial fashion, Mohajer sat on the floor of her office attempting to work a fax machine when Chavez, who had been sent by Nordstrom to meet with Mohajer about her cult nail polish brand, Hard Candy, arrived.
“We went to work [on Hard Candy] in that moment and made it a partnership that we’ve actually never even formalized,” Chavez said. “It’s been like that for 25 years.”
The pair expanded Hard Candy beyond pastel nail shades into a 100-plus-sku color cosmetics company, drawing interest from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which purchased it in 1999 and sold it three years later to Falic Group. Chavez and Mohajer have since started Smith and Cult with Luxury Brand Partners and Goldie with L Brands Inc., formerly known as The Limited Inc.
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Their latest venture is About-Face, a cosmetics company created last January with singer Halsey, who then had yet to embark on her pre-coronavirus “Manic” world tour. About-Face is backed by venture capital investment. Halsey holds an equity stake, like other celebrities who have co-created beauty companies in recent years.
“Halsey’s completely out of the box, which is everything that we love,” Mohajer said. “Every tenet of our business has to do with breaking the rules.
“She has all of these artistic disciplines about reinvention and About-Face means actually doing an about-face,” she continued. “She’s constantly in a mode of transformation.”
On Jan. 25, About-Face will launch with three color collections — Light Lock, Matte and Shadowstick — that “have their own identities” and logos, Mohajer said. Light Lock consists of highlighters, Matte has high-intensity lip and eye colors and Shadowstick spans multipurpose cream eye shadow crayons in pearl and matte finishes.
The collections total 10 product categories — there are also beauty tools and makeup bags — and 40 sku’s. The makeup products are vegan, cruelty-free and formulated without gluten, phthalates, parabens or synthetic fragrances. Some items draw their names from Halsey’s friends and muses.
“We decided to small-drop very fast,” Chavez said. “We have another launch for Valentine’s, which we’re calling anti-Valentine’s Day. We have another launch coming in March and then April. When you look at the end of 2021, [the launches will be] all intermingled and perform with each other.”
About-Face will be sold direct-to-consumer in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Europe with prices ranging from $17 to $32. The brand has an exclusive, yearlong partnership with Ipsy, which will feature About-Face products in its recently launched Glam Bag X.
“Our plan from Day One, actually pre-COVID-19, was always digital,” Chavez said.
“COVID-19 has really slowed everything down, but so far, so good,” she continued. “You’re going to be excited by the performance of these products. It has the highest level of everything. And that doesn’t mean it’s clownish, it means that it’s high-performance. That’s where we’re going to win in a sea of competition.”
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