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Credo Founder Shashi Batra, 51, Dies

Friends remember Batra as a funny, passionate man and a beauty-retail visionary.

Shashi Batra, the founder of Credo Beauty and a key player in Sephora’s U.S. success, has died.

Batra, 51, passed away Sunday from an aggressive illness. He is survived by his wife, Victoire, and two daughters.

Professionally, Batra was described by former colleagues as a visionary — and personally, was characterized as a warm, funny, family man.

“Shashi saw the humor in literally everything — it was the primary reason working with him was so wonderful,” said Annie Jackson, vice president of merchandising and planning at Credo. “While he always had a tremendous amount of responsibility, he never took work so seriously that it eclipsed what was important in his life, which was his family. He had a wonderfully optimistic view of the world and managed to face every challenge being able to beautifully articulate the good that would come from whatever hardship we faced.”

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“He was funny,” said Betsy Olum, who worked with him at Sephora and maintained a friendship with Batra. “He was fun to be around and very kind, and he loved his family very much.” She described Batra welcoming her into his home during her numerous trips from New York to San Francisco for home-cooked meals. “He was kind enough to always open up his home and his family,” Olum said. “I will forever be grateful for him.”

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“He had a great sense of humor,” said Steve Bock, who worked with Batra at Saks Fifth Avenue and Sephora. “He was really socially gifted, really outgoing, had a very warm personality — you just wanted to be with him, you wanted to be around him. Really, it went much deeper. He had the skills to negotiate to work with different people to appreciate everybody’s point of view.”

“I’m heartbroken,” Bock added. “It’s just one of the saddest things.”

“He will be very missed,” Olum said. “He was truly, truly, truly one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. He worked with great passion, as well as grace and dignity. He was not just a colleague, he was a friend — it was because of Shashi along with Steve Bock that Sephora came into being in the U.S., so I consider him very much a visionary as well.”

Relationships were one of Batra’s specialties.

“He really built deep relationships,” Bock said. “He understood what we as retailers at Sephora needed to do, but he also understood that we were dealing often with very small companies, very small brands, very innovative, very creative, and he fully understood what made them work, and he enabled them to bring their creativity to the forefront.”

“He was fabulous,” said Rose-Marie Swift, founder of RMS Beauty. “He had the right mindset for what the young brands are doing and understanding that … he has a good sense of humor, he made me laugh — he was really funny.”

“Shashi made us feel like family,” said Tata Harper. “He brought such a positive, motivating energy to everything he did. Working with partners like him makes the work feel good, and reminds us why we do what we do. He will be truly missed.”

“Shashi was never too busy to do anything,” Jackson said. “He would go from being our founder and ceo to helping us unpack boxes and re-merchandise of our stores. He was incredibly kind, and truly cared for each and every one of us and took a vested interest in everyone’s lives beyond work.” Jackson added that those who met Batra often commented that he was “the most genuine and down-to-earth ceo they had ever met.”

“Shashi was an exceptional person, he never filtered his opinions yet considered others first always,” Jackson said. “He has contributed to the world being a better place more than he ever knew, and I wish I could tell him that today.”

Batra started his career in beauty at Parfums Christian Dior USA, and moved to Saks Fifth Avenue before Bock recruited him to be part of the Sephora team. He left Sephora for the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and eventually moved over to Perricone MD and Victoria’s Secret Beauty before starting Credo in 2014. The natural-beauty store now has four locations, with a fifth opening in Chicago later this year.

“My favorite memory of him will be the first time he talked to me about his idea for what is now Credo,” Jackson said. “He was so excited and was so confident. It was contagious to see his passion for this concept, and I remember driving home feeling so happy for him that he was creating something that filled his heart with joy.”