Skip to main content

EXCLUSIVE: Gisou Raises Series B Round With Eurazeo Brands

The premium honey-based hair and beauty brand will reinforce its digital capabilities and develop a North American team.

PARIS — Gisou, the premium honey-based hair and beauty brand, has closed a Series B funding round led by Eurazeo, through its brands team, which has taken a minority stake in the business.

Eurazeo is taking a share alongside Vaultier7, an existing minority investor, and Gisou’s cofounders, beauty influencer Negin Mirsalehi and her partner Maurits Stibbe. The pair, who cofounded Gisou in 2015, will remain its majority owners.

The new financial backing is meant to support Gisou’s growth plans by reinforcing its digital and e-commerce capabilities, strengthening the brand and its community, and expanding globally, including developing the team in North America.

Netherlands-based Gisou is run by Stibbe and Mirsalehi, an Amsterdam native who hails from an Iranian beekeeping family.

Hair care — once the smallest of all product categories sold in high-end and specialty stores — is now among the most dynamic, registering double-digit gains and barreling past other segments in the beauty market.

Related Galleries

Worldwide, prestige hair care sales grew 13.6 percent between 2020 and 2021, to $14.84 billion. The year prior, the segment’s revenues were up just 1.2 percent, according to market research provider Euromonitor International.

You May Also Like

In tandem, Gisou has experienced rapid growth since early 2020, when Vaultier7 made a multimillion-dollar minority investment in the hair care start-up, which began as a direct-to-consumer operation. That came one month before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

It was a time of uncertainty for all companies, but prestige hair care and Gisou’s business soared, especially as people stayed home and salons shuttered.

Just prior to the pandemic, Gisou had also signed with Sephora to open in North America.

“Instantly, we had to figure out how to get that launch done, because the supply chain was really suffering,” Stibbe said.

The debut with Sephora began online, and industry sources say that for the retailer, it was among the best hair care launches.

“From there, we saw the potential also in wholesale next to our store on d-to-c,” Stibbe continued.

Next stops included Sephora in the Middle East, Mecca in Australia and Selfridges in the U.K. Meanwhile, Gisou’s growth kept accelerating.

“We really started to think about if we continue to grow at this pace, we will need a second [funding] round — but also a different kind of partner,” Stibbe said.

“We weren’t searching for just a fund, we were searching for the right partner,” Mirsalehi said. “We are very protective of everything we build; it’s our heritage story. We needed also to find the right partner that was aligned on the way we brand Gisou, the love we put into it and the long term — when it comes to our vision, sustainability and bees. We found the right partner for that.”

“[Eurazeo] allows us to have a long-term vision,” agreed Stibbe. “What we also like is the global presence and the deep expertise with their supporting teams. For example, we are really going deep on building a stand-alone U.S. team, and because Eurazeo has a good presence in North America, it allows us to [do that].”

For Eurazeo, the Gisou tie-in was natural.

“We are here to be partners of entrepreneurs who want to build new brands with new kinds of offering, experience and community,” explained Laurent Droin, managing director of Eurazeo Brands. “We want, obviously, to build those brands not only for the short run, but to make them sustainable in every sense [including, importantly] that they will be there in five, 10 years. That’s really our mission.”

Droin called Gisou “a true story — I actually believe it should be even told louder.”

“There is a very modern approach on naturality, transparency,” he continued. “And there’s a lot to be done there. Gisou is something that really touches the consumer today. Digital is not an end, it’s a tool they use.

“Gisou is not another influencer brand,” said Droin, referring to Mirsalehi’s start as an online influencer and fashion ambassador. “It’s a family story that is being revealed by Negin’s public figure and her passion for beauty.”

He called Gisou a “real, meaningful brand” that is in line with Eurazeo’s ambition on the ESG front, especially concerning the environment.

Partnerships are all about fit, said Droin, adding that in Mirsalehi and Stibbe, Eurazeo found people with real ambition to tell a story and develop a brand with an impact, while being grounded with an acute business acumen.

Negin Mirsalehi and her father in the family bee garden.
Negin Mirsalehi and her father in the family bee garden. Courtesy of Gisou

Last year proved to the Gisou team that it is capable of being a bee-based beauty brand, not just a bee-based hair care brand. It launched “complexion” products: the honey-infused Face Oil and then the Lip Oil on its own website, Gisou.com, to repeat, out-of-stock success.

Gisou’s Honey Infused Hair Oil, the brand’s bestseller, was originally developed by Mirsalehi’s mother, who made it at home and used it on all of the family’s hair.

“After the investment, we will also go deeper into the complexion category, develop more products outside of the hair-care category to [give] our community everything we have to offer around bee-based beauty,” Stibbe said. That could include body care, for instance.

Another focus will be on strengthening Gisou’s d-to-c business.

“In our heart, we’re still a d-to-c brand — the way we communicate with our community through social and our website,” Mirsalehi said. “It’s in our DNA. I think that’s also the reason why every time we go to another retailer, it’s such a big success.”

There’s in-depth community-building work being carried out through digital, where industry sources said Gisou garners an average engagement ratio much higher than other beauty brands.

“That’s something we want to keep investing in — the direct relationship with our community,” Stibbe said.

Also on the docket is strengthening Gisou’s senior team.

For Eurazeo, the priority is to create an ecosystem around Mirsalehi and Stibbe “to help them think about the short term, midterm and the long term,” Droin said.

Gisou is said to be on track to reach the longstanding sales objective of crossing the 100 million euros mark by the end of 2023. But executives say the focus is in no way purely on financials.

“It’s about remaining a desirable brand,” said Mirsalehi, explaining that as Gisou scales it’s key to keep the ethos of a small family company. “We are definitely able to do this, because there is so much family involved. So it will always feel small, in a way.”

There’s a focus on special projects. Upcoming is a Gisou pop-up — a bee/honey museum with education around bees — in Amsterdam in May to celebrate the start of the bee season.

“One of our priorities is to also raise awareness of bees,” Mirsalehi said. Activations are planned, for instance, to teach people about the importance of supporting urban beekeepers.

Gisou in the first quarter of this year launched in the European Union, mostly in France, Spain, Italy and Turkey. In the region, including the U.K., it has 179 doors.

North America generates half of the brand’s business. There, it has 475 Sephora doors and 400 Sephora at Kohl’s doors. In the Middle East, there are 58 points of sale, and Gisou sold in 85 Mecca Cosmetica outposts in Australia and New Zealand.

Gisou’s sales are split rather evenly between d-to-c and brick-and-mortar.

“We want to keep it that way,” Stibbe said. “It’s really important to have that direct relationship with the customer, because then you can find out so much more about what they actually want, how they perceive the product, how we can improve the experience. Also, what kind of products that we want to launch in the future.”

“There’s still so much to do, and to share,” Mirsalehi said. “There’s so much potential.”

FOR MORE, SEE:

Gisou Prepares for Series B Fundraise, Launches Products for Skin

Indie Hair-care Brand Gisou Makes Strides in U.S. Market With Sephora

Jaanuu Scores $75 Million Eurazeo Investment