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Ben Bennett’s The Center Raises $15M From Prelude

The firm that backs Westman Atelier and DpHue has invested in The Center, which owns Naturium, Phlur and Make.

Beauty incubator The Center has gotten a $15 million minority investment from Prelude Growth Partners. 

Make Beauty
Make Beauty products. courtesy

The Center was founded by Ben Bennett in 2020 as an incubator for beauty brands. The business launched botanical-oriented masstige skin care brand Naturium; acquired Make Beauty, which relaunched this year; and acquired fragrance line Phlur, which will be relaunching in 2022.  

Bennett said he plans to use the capital to build the company’s employee base and spend more on marketing. There are also plans for a new brand slated to launch in 2022. 

“Bringing Prelude in is the first time I’ve ever raised money in my career, I’ve always bootstrapped my businesses,” Bennett said. “I’m a believer that you can still do that, however, it’s a much longer road. It’s a slower road. And I think that if you want to reach the audience that you’re trying to reach, and do it in an effective way, you have to have some capital behind you to be able to find you and let them know that you’re there.” 

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Bennett, who had cofounded Hatch Beauty and sold his stake in that business in 2019, said the approach is different than what he’d done with his previous company. “The way that my generation did it was we maxed out our credit cards, borrowed money, we lifted up couch cushions, and you take your $10,000 and you try really hard to turn it into $20[,000],” Bennett said.

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Neda Daneshzadeh, cofounder and managing partner at Prelude, said the firm wanted to back Bennett and The Center because he is a “true creative visionary” who “understands the beauty and personal care consumer.” She also noted that Naturium “had one of the most remarkable first 18 months in a brand’s trajectory that we’ve seen.” 

Naturium has achieved significant success, and industry sources said that Naturium is expected to reach $50 million in retail sales for this year. 

“It’s the power of the brand, but as you know the clean masstige skin care category is on fire and Naturium has a super strong value proposition for consumers. The clinically effective positioning but with botanicals has really found a very strong value proposition … it’s one of the most explosive brand growths that we have seen, with phenomenal multichannel performance,” Daneshzadeh said. 

Bennett said the brand is profitable, and that he aims to achieve profitability quickly with each of his other brands. In total, he said he envisions the center will operate four to five brands across categories.

“It’s important for us as a small team to stay focused and to stay focused on the categories where we think there are opportunities or even more importantly where we believe there are customers who are being underserved. That’s an enormous priority for us,” Bennett said.

Next up is Saltair, a body care brand Bennett said will launch in January.

For more from WWD.com, see: 

P&G Breaks Into Prestige Hair Care with Jen Atkin Deal

Facetheory D-to-c, Clean Skin Care Brand Raises 10 Million Pounds

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