Walker & Co. Brands is building its management team to help build its portfolio of brands.
Joanne Hsieh has joined the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company behind the single-edge Bevel razor and shaving product line as chief operating officer. Prior to her position at Walker & Co., she was senior vice president and international general manager of La Mer, vice president at MAC Cosmetics and a management consultant in Accenture’s retail strategy practice.
In his search for a chief operating officer, Tristan Walker, chief executive officer and founder of Walker & Co., outlined he was looking for someone who deeply understood brands, premium health and beauty products, an omnichannel approach to distribution and multicultural consumers. Until recently, the company, which secured $24 million in Series B funding last year, had no employees that rose through the ranks at traditional beauty-industry companies.
“The success we are seeing at retail means that we need to hire folks with this experience,” said Walker, referring to Bevel entering Target in February. Specifically talking about Hsieh, he added, “She has this really great left brain, right brain combination that we didn’t see in other candidates. She has an appreciation for the art and science of this business.”
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Hsieh’s purview at Walker & Co. is quite broad. She has her hands in the supply chain, product and business development, customer education, human resources, sales and more. Walker emphasized she will be crucial in expanding Walker & Co.’s retail footprint, pushing its presence abroad and erecting future brands. Next year, the brand plans to launch a second brand that he remarked is in a “completely different category with a completely different audience.”
Hsieh underscored Walker & Co. is much better positioned to develop brands for multicultural consumers than entrenched beauty conglomerates. “A lot of the larger companies are trying to adapt to the needs of people of color, whereas at Walker & Co. we are innovating from the ground up. If you look at our team doing this, we have a very diverse team,” Hsieh said. “What we do well is we are really starting with a fundamental problem that resonates with the community.”
While Walker & Co. is certainly focused on the multicultural segment, Walker suggested its customers aren’t easily stratified along racial and ethnic lines. Designed to address coarse and curly facial hair, Bevel was introduced to the market largely with African-American men in mind, but Walker revealed the majority of Bevel’s customers at stores are not African-Americans. The brand is also evaluating stretching into products aimed at women to further widen its consumer net.
“It’s not a black or white thing. It’s a I have shaving irritation or I don’t have a shaving irritation thing. A lot of people look at us as the best way to shave, period,” said Walker. “Off-line, we are overwhelmingly Millennial, even though some of our retail partners are not. We have a young, more affluent and relatively diverse group of consumers across both [physical and virtual] channels. We are very excited that one channel isn’t cannibalizing another.”
Walker & Co.’s revenues have been growing 300 percent year-over-year. At Target, Bevel’s sales have been increasing at a rate of 5 percent weekly, and it’s currently available at 150 of the retailer’s doors, a figure that will jump to 400 in the first quarter of 2017. Along with Target, Bevel is available at Amazon and on its own web site, initially the only driver of the brand’s sales. The brand offers seven products priced on an à la carte basis from $9.95 to $199.95.