Main Post, the private equity firm that has backed Milk Makeup and Too Faced, has made a minority investment in clinical skin-care brand Dr. Dennis Gross Skin Care.
The brand was founded by dermatologist Dennis Gross, who has a practice on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and is behind the line’s formulations. The line is best known for Alpha Beta Peel Pads, an at-home version of a treatment Gross gives patients at his practice.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the investment is said to be a significant minority stake. Industry sources said the brand is on track to do $100 million in retail sales for 2020, and that the goal is to triple the business in the next three years.
The two parties started talks before the coronavirus pandemic, but closed the deal recently, they said. Financo advised Gross in the sale.
Jeff Mills, managing partner at Main Post, said the rise of brands like Tatcha and Drunk Elephant helped widen the pool of people who are interested in skin care.
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“As people were starting to focus more and more on taking care of their skin, there are also more people looking for efficacious, results-oriented products,” Mills said. “Dr. Dennis Gross has great lineage, great heritage, has been around for 20 years and is extremely well positioned to benefit from this larger audience of people who are really focused on skin.”
“As they learn about legitimate science, they’re graduating to our brand,” said Carrie Gross, chief executive officer of the skin care brand and wife of Gross. She will remain in her position post-deal. “With COVID-19, everybody’s really needing to find professional clinical skin care,” she said.
Main Post partner Josh McDowell said the peels have been especially relevant during COVID-19, when consumers have been largely unable to receive professional skin services and have looked to at-home “DIY-type solutions.”
And according to Gross, the brand has continued to do well during COVID-19. “There isn’t any channel that’s not experiencing tremendous growth right now,” she said.
“We’ve got a whole new cohort of consumers that previously loved to shop in store…[who] weren’t really engaged in shopping or researching brands online,” Gross said. “We have a brand new audience. Even though we’re a 20-year-old brand, they’ve never heard of Dennis, they don’t know what the Alpha Beta Peel is. We’re creating loyalty with them and educating them with master classes — they’re learning about clinical skin care for the first time and building a full regimen.”
Part of the brand’s online work during quarantine has been educating shoppers on how to do at-home facials with its steamer and LED devices, plus how to layer products, like the Alpha Beta Peel, followed by serum, followed by moisturizer, Gross added.
COVID-19 isn’t the only topic of conversation inside the company — as the Black Lives Matter movement has picked up global steam in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, diversity is being talked about more than ever, Gross said.
“As a dermatologist brand, we’ve always addressed the whole scale [of skin tones]. Dennis has a very global patient population…when we do our clinical skin studies, we have a panel of every Fitzpatrick [skin type],” Gross said. “For the corporate team, we’re having a lot of conversations around diversity and inclusivity. We have a fairly diverse team right now, but it’s something we’ve talked about even more in the corporate setting and with the consumer.”
Dr. Dennis Gross participated in the Pull Up for Change campaign, revealing it had five Black employees and 35 percent of staff were people of color, but that on the five-person executive team, there were no people of color.
Going forward with Main Post, the brand intends to make new hires, grow its international business, which is still fairly young, and deepen existing distribution relationships in North America. Right now, the brand is sold with Sephora, including in the retailer’s new Instagram shop, as well as throughout Europe, with Mecca in Australia, and newly, in China.
“We’re always referencing playbooks we’ve seen at Too Faced, or Milk — when you have a hero franchise like Alpha Beta Peel, which is that entry and totally differentiated and dominant hero category, you’re bringing people into the brand through that,” Mills said, noting that then customers tend to move to other products or product lines.
The business will also continue to ramp up digital, and recently hired an in-house multimedia producer. The company is also looking to hire more in-house employees to help it navigate social and launch a TikTok strategy, Gross said. “We’re doing all of these social activities and activations and we really need to grow the team in that area,” Gross said.
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