With low barrier to entry, the beauty sphere is ripe with emerging brands. But these ones, which span wellness, personal care and hair, have caught the attention of the WWD Beauty Inc editorial team. Here, the brands we think you should be paying attention to — and why.
Siffat Haider struggled for years with mysterious health issues, ultimately finding relief in a cocktail of supplements prescribed by a naturopathic doctor. The problem? The mish-mash of bulky pill bottles annoyed the 29-year-old Toronto lifestyle blogger and podcast host’s fiancé Nishant Samantray anytime they traveled together with a shared suitcase. “It was a ridiculous amount of stuff she was carrying,” he said.
Two years ago, Haider conceived of a solution — a streamlined supplement brand that “was both efficacious and really targeted in a non-complicated way.”
“I didn’t feel like anything in the supplement world spoke to me,” Haider said. “I had to buy so many things, do so much research, and anytime I found something cute, [my doctor] would laugh it off.”
Samantray, who has a background in tech, was in, and in March, the pair used their wedding budget, now postponed due to COVID-19, to launch Arrae from their living room. The brand’s first two products are Bloat and Calm, $47 each. Calm blends four herbs, vitamins and minerals meant to lower cortisol. Bloat mixes five herbs and a fruit-based digestive enzyme designed to ease symptoms of slow digestion.
An early boost came from an Instagram post by Melissa Wood Tepperberg, the wellness influencer who founded the MWH Method and has her own fitness app. Tepperberg wasn’t paid — Arrae sends product, but doesn’t pay influencers for reviews — but her endorsement caused the brand to sell out of all its inventory almost immediately.
The brand is going strong, with Haider and Samantray packing orders from their living room. Sales are expected to reach over $1 million by the end of the year.
Asutra, a Chicago-based wellness-oriented skin and personal-care brand, is bundling hero products for holiday.
On Dec. 1, Asutra will launch the Ultimate Magnesium Bundle, $49.99, with Restore and Recover Ultra Magnesium Oil Spray, Relieve Your Pain Magnesium & 10% Menthol Temporary Pain Relief Cream and Magnesium Chloride Flakes. All of Asutra’s products center around organic ingredients and don’t contain parabens, phthalates or petroleum.
The brand’s magnesium products are bestsellers, according to founder and chief executive Stephanie Morimoto. “People are looking for accessible, easy ways for them to reduce stress, reduce pain, get a better night’s sleep, because now people’s habits are so different,” Morimoto said. “We’re definitely seeing, even before [the pandemic], people searching for things to help them get a better night’s sleep. That was really accelerated.”
Asutra, which is backed by tennis star Venus Williams, also sells body scrubs, aromatherapy sprays and serums online as well as at CVS, target.com, iHerb.com and Kohls, where Asutra will double its footprint to 400 doors in 2021, Morimoto said. Industry sources said the business is on track to reach $4 million in net sales for 2020.
Companies are full of promises these days when it comes to tackling environmental sustainability, but few do it like beauty brand Ethique. When New Zealand-based founder Brianne West launched the business in 2012, her goal was to rid the world of plastic bottles, she said.
The results, initially concocted in her kitchen, are hair, skin and body-care products (priced starting at $6) made in solid bar form and wrapped in biodegradable packaging. While that concept might not be for everyone, it’s arguably the way of the future for an eco-friendly world.
A single bar of an Ethique shampoo is the equivalent of three liquid alternatives, according to the brand. Ethique’s ingredients, which are listed on its site, are cruelty-free, vegan, nontoxic, plant-based and biodegradable. They’re also sustainably sourced and fairly traded (paying suppliers a fair wage), and all shipping is plastic-free.
Ethique is now at more than 2,500 retailers worldwide, as well as direct-to-consumer. In the U.S., products are available at Walmart, Target, Mom’s Organic Market and Erewhon Market. Industry sources estimated net sales at between $15 million to $20 million.
Over the next year, 72 new products will be released, as the brand continues to expand its team. The company, which donates 20 percent of profits to a charity each year, also plans to launch its own charitable foundation in 2021.
When Kamu launched with its debut CBD products earlier this year, the brand didn’t want to bring a mere CBD product to market: instead, it combines cannabidiols with an array of other herbs and naturopathic ingredients aiming to holistically address consumer concerns. Now, Kamu is launching Uplift, a plant-based, mood boosting supplement.
“A lot of time, anxiety can be caused by inflammation in the brain, and being low in Vitamin B12 or neurotransmitters can also be triggers. We take a look at all of these,” said Robyn Caywood, cofounder and chief science officer at Kamu.
In addition to the one-to-one ratio of CBD and CBG in the formula, which aims to address inflammation, saffron from Spain works on serotonin receptors, Caywood said. Lion’s Mane mushroom works as a neuroprotector, addressing inflammation, and L-Theanine, an amino acid from green tea, causes the brain to produce serotonin, she said. The formula also includes a bioavailable form of Vitamin B12. “With all our formulas, we want something that’s providing immediate relief while also working long-term. The L-Theanine provides a lift you can feel within an hour of taking it, while saffron and lion’s mane have more cumulative effects,” Caywood said.
To Caywood, timing is imperative, and anxiety and depression have been top-of-mind with her customers and business partners, she said. Industry sources estimate the supplement could reach $1 million in retail sales for its first year.
Shaz and Kiks
Shaz and Kiks aims to bring Southeast Asian Ayurvedic hair-care rituals Stateside.
Cofounder sisters Shaz Rajashekar, who works in corporate strategy and marketing, and Kiku Chaudhuri, who previously led digital growth at Condé Nast, conceptualized the brand two years ago. Based in Austin, Tex., they brought the company to market in August, four months after the onset of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Shaz and Kiks sells two kinds of pre-washes, $60 each, formulated in partnership with an Ayurvedic doctor based in India. Meant for application prior to shampooing, the pre-washes incorporate raw ingredients — amla, turmeric root oil and Shikakai, to name a few — Rajashekar and Chaudhuri grew up using by way of their grandmother, a self-taught Ayurvedic formulator.
“One of our favorite things growing up in India was this ritualistic thing [where] my grandmother would create handmade, beautifully crafted plant formulas [that] would take care of our bodies from the roots of our hair to our pinkies,” Chaudhuri said.
Shaz and Kiks is sold direct-to-consumer and on Pretty Well Beauty, and it will enter Urban Outfitters in January. The company is expected to bring in $1 million in retail sales in its first year, according to industry sources.