PARIS — Jean-Michel Karam has never done anything in half measure. So it’s no surprise that his latest project — called IEVA — is gearing up to disrupt the personalized beauty model while remaining in sync with his quest to enhance human life.
Karam, a microelectronics expert, already sent shock waves through the industry after introducing in late 2010 IOMA, a skin-care brand using its own high-tech analysis devices in-store to help the creation of customized products and recommended regimens.
Prior to that, he built MEMSCAP, a company based on developing MEMS technology — microscopic devices that detect changes to trigger desired responses — for the avionics, optical communications and medical fields. When MEMSCAP went public in 2001, the stock market was descending into a period of sustained decline, forcing him to diversify. So IOMA was born and subsequently sold to Unilever, while Kasam remains the brand’s chief executive officer.
“I think IEVA is the ultimate thing I will do in my career,” he told WWD, of the project. “It’s the accumulation of all I have done so far. I think it can become an Alibaba.”
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IEVA Technologies for Life, which aims to broaden access to personalized beauty, was begun in June 2016 and kept tightly under wraps.
“I was thinking about IOMA. We have the brand that has the biggest consumer experience in points of sale. I was saying: ‘What will we do when e-commerce comes?’ And, in fact, it came,” said Karam, who explained IOMA owns a slew of patents for carrying out diagnostics on iPhones.
“But I personally do not believe in [that method],” he continued. “I think that diagnosis is something that is serious, and you have to have, number one, professional equipment, not consumer devices, calibrated. Everything should [provide] repeatable and producible measurements.”
Karam didn’t wish to give people gadgets. “I want really to bring serious things,” he said. “The sensor we put on the IOMA Youth Booster is the same sensor that’s currently on Mars. It’s the best technology of the world. NASA selected the MEMSCAP sensor.”
Karam studied IOMA users, who he considers as the most techie in beauty, and realized they don’t have a lot of free time. “The woman who is ready to pay 150 euros for a cream? She’s working,” he said. “Our customers are busy women, and they don’t have time to sit and make a 15-minute diagnostic [themselves].”
He also noted — when it comes to skin care — the importance of anticipation versus correction. “If you act on anticipation, you get results,” said Karam, who added that’s the thinking behind IOMA products.
Fifty percent of skin aging is due to genetic heritage, with the rest stemming from environmental stress. “Wherever we are, it is attacking us,” he said. “The problem is, environmental stress is not something that is easy to understand. It’s completely intangible.
“The IEVA idea came very easily. It’s [from] saying ‘OK, the consumer cannot do the job, it has to be done by itself.’ So we need to have a connected device that measures the root cause, or the environmental stress,” continued Karam.
The IEVA moniker came from a mash-up of the “i” of “integrated” and “eva” referring to life. It’s also a contraction of the names of Karam’s twins, Ilan and Eva.
The device had to be an aesthetic object. “It’s a jewel [full of hidden technology] that measures environmental stress, sends the data to the cloud and from the cloud recommends you things, and helps you live better,” said Karam. “It’s a link between humans and their environment, and we act as a translator of the world around you.”
So he created connected jewelry, called Twin-C, whose design stems from photos of the earth taken from the sky and comes in various styles, for men and women. Twin-C is the ready-to-wear version, and Twin-C Sur-Mesure is the couture iteration, with accessories, like a silk scarf or leather band, all made in France. A more affordable, turnkey model is Twin-C to Go.
Twin-C measures environmental stressors, such as temperature, humidity, noise, luminosity, air pollution, UV-A and –B, the UV index, and physical activity that can affect skin and hair. Indoor monitoring is offered, too.
The jewelry is linked to a mobile application, which gives preventative and personalized recommendations based on the environmental information and answers to brief questions asked pertaining to one’s level of expertise in beauty, and hair and skin preoccupations.
IOMA users can have their data already culled from the brand transferred to the IEVA system. Integrated artificial intelligence allows Twin-C to better get to know someone over time.
Currently, product suggestions involve the IOMA brand and its new little sister skin-care brand targeting Millennials, called M/C, and Elénature, an organic hair-care brand being introduced by IEVA. But the selection will be open to other third-party brands, too, and linked to an online sales platform.
Daily recommendations are sent out, plus alerts, and the app is meant to further guide people with personalized editorial content.
“We don’t only recommend you beauty, but also personal care, which includes nutrition and lifestyle,” said Karan.
Prices for the Twin-C range from 140 euros to 250 euros. Payments can be made in monthly installments, and sliding discounts on products are offered to users depending on how often they wear the jewelry.
This project isn’t about making money — Karam wants IEVA to benefit the planet. “I care about it as a scientist,” he claimed, reasoning that if millions of people wear Twin-C jewelry, the world can become meshed together and spawn a community determined to protect the environment.
“We [can] give the level of environmental stress worldwide,” said Karam. “The number-one contribution is true awareness: So society can know the earth’s exact situation, and the climate people can use the data to fine-tune their models. We [can] give this data to the scientists and all the people who are working on climate [related issues].”
IEVA can measure activity while people are sleeping, too. So it has teamed with the HP2 laboratory to try and glean better understanding of sleep disorders. It will also share data with other scientific institutions and non-profit weather and climate centers and laboratories.
IEVA collects no personal data and does not geo-locate.
“’I care about you, you care about the planet’ is a motto for us,” said Karam, adding the company’s logo represents harmony.
Today, IEVA functions via a phone’s Bluetooth, but when V2 arrives soon it will open a number of new applications, such as childcare and care of the elderly.
IEVA’s launch will be celebrated at a by-invitation party in Paris the evening of Jan. 31, at 38 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, in the Marais district, which will also, starting Feb. 1, serve as the pop-up for the brand, selling Twin-C through the end of March.
That will also be sold for starters in the Ioma boutique, select Marionnaud and Beauty Success perfumeries, plus through Feelunique.com. Whatever retailer sells clients the Twin-C will subsequently handle their e-commerce orders made through the IEVA app.
“As a partner, I respect all of my ecosystem,” said Karam.
It’s an ecosystem that can be greatly built up and stretch outside the world of beauty, such as into nutrition and diverse services.