Prestige: Westman Atelier
Gucci Westman showed that the celebrity makeup artist category was ready for a new player with the launch of Westman Atelier. A fashion world favorite who’s also on the speed-dial of Hollywood elites such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Drew Barrymore, Westman took a “consciously crafted” approach to the line, which launched with complexion products infused with skin-care properties at Barneys and Violet Grey. “I’m looking for transparency and authenticity. I don’t see the need to just color and correct. I want to fix,” Westman emphasized. “I’m so tired of the glossy, retouched pictures. I want to go back to real.” Westman and her husband/business partner, David Neville, are taking a measured approach to growth. “We saw an opportunity for a luxury cosmetics brand that spoke to wellness and integrity,” said Neville, who cofounded Rag & Bone. Since launching, Westman Atelier has added bronzer and beautiful, handmade brushes, with more to come—but not too quickly. “We are patient and it’s working,” Westman said. “As Diane von Furstenberg once told David, a slow burn is a good burn.”
Mass Market: Seed Phytonutrients
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Incubation was the “It” word of 2018, and every consumer beauty giant was doing it. From Unilever to Johnson & Johnson, a slew of new, non-acquired brands hit the market, touting trend-driven, natural formulations, nontraditional distribution models and digital-first marketing strategies. Of them all, L’Oréal’s Seed Phytonutrients stood out as a brand that felt truly Indie in nature, despite its corporate origins. The sustainable brand was launched by a start-up-style team of L’Oréal employees, led by Shane Wolf, global manager of the professional hair division. He pitched the idea for a product line that would source ingredients from local farms in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, with sustainable packaging made of paper recycled from a L’Oréal plant in California. With offices split between a storefront in Doylestown, Pa., and a coworking space in Chelsea, N.Y., Seed is fully funded by L’Oréal, and Wolf wouldn’t comment on sales. But sales aren’t quite the point anyway—rather, L’Oréal is learning to create a Millennial-oriented brand on its own turf, without investing in a costly acquisition. “We’ve gone very fast and work independently from the rest of L’Oréal,” Wolf said. “The suppliers we work with, from raw materials to packaging to formulation, are all independent. We’re not going through the L’Oréal processes at all.” Big fish, big pond, big win.