A new entrant is raising the stakes in the celebrity beauty game.
Jonathan Van Ness, the hairstylist and “Queer Eye” star, has announced his hair care line in partnership with Amyris. Called JVN, the brand is launching on Aug. 31 on sephora.com and its own website, and in all Sephora doors in the U.S. and Canada on Sept. 17.
The products are broken out into four ranges: the Complete Collection, which includes a serum, an oil and an air dry cream; the Embody Collection shampoo and conditioner; the Nurture Collection shampoo, conditioner and moisture mask, and the Undamage Collection shampoo and conditioner. Prices range from $18 to $28. Industry sources believe the brand will reach between $15 million and $20 million in retail sales in its first year on the market.
Van Ness’ interest in hair predates his stardom. “As a very little kid, I was obsessed with Barbies because of their hair,” he said. “It was always this medium of art that I gravitated to.”
Van Ness was trained by the Aveda Institute and worked full time as a hairstylist from 2006 to 2018. His ingredient know-how came in handy when formulating the products. “I always felt there were three main issues I was dealing with: more moisture, or dealing with damage, or body and volume,” he said.
The brand touches on key consumer trends, from sustainability and inclusivity to the skinification of hair. The products’ hero ingredient is hemisqualane, a derivative of squalane that penetrates both hair and scalp and substitutes silicone in traditional formulas. It is manufactured by JVN’s parent company, Amyris.
Among the brand’s selling points is its inclusive approach to hair care. “Jonathan is so involved as a founder,” said Teresa Lo, general manager and vice president of JVN, who added that it even impacted the product price points. “This is a brand that has a huge opportunity to stand up inside of Sephora. Most brands are positioned as salon-grade, but their shampoo is $40. Jonathan said this can’t be the case if we’re going to change the industry, since we’re here for tomorrow’s customer. It was important for him to create prestige-quality product at an accessible price point.”
To that end, Van Ness’ philosophy on hair also informed how he made the products. “I wanted to be able to reach out to people and demystify hair care to help people celebrate their natural hair textures, and also just take away the idea that there’s one way your hair should be,” he said.
“I also have very curly, wavy hair and never knew how to style it. There was this dumb rule for boys having to cut their hair and because I was assigned male at birth, I always had to have these short haircuts,” Van Ness added, who is nonbinary and uses all pronouns. “It’s always been really important to me to make everyone feel welcome and able to play with their beauty.”
Sustainability is also a tenet of the brand’s proposition, which prioritizes glass and aluminum packaging. “The only [plastic] we have is in the pumps, and it’s also 95 percent post-consumer recycled plastic,” Van Ness said, citing the lack of plastic-free closures.
The brand doesn’t have immediate plans to expand into new categories, Van Ness and Lo both said, but they didn’t count it out for the future, either. Rather, they are focusing on new markets, such as the U.K., Lo said.
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