Personal care brand Bravo Sierra has closed a Series B funding round for $17 million from investment advisory The Merchant Club, with participation from AF Ventures and Capstar Ventures, as well as previous investors Mousse Partners and Redo Ventures.
Cofounders Benjamin Bernet and Justin Guilbert began fundraising following the close of their Series A round in February 2020, just one month before global lockdowns commenced due to COVID-19. Since then, the duo built the brand through their community of active military members of the U.S. Special Forces, and have been selling their grooming and personal care products on global military bases and their website.
Bravo Sierra entered Target in early 2021, and launched on Amazon in late 2021. Both have contributed to the company’s sales growth, which Bernet said has “doubled year-over-year since 2019.” He also said the brand experienced high double-digit month-over-month growth at Amazon, where its citrus and cedarwood deodorant is in the top 10 personal care products for men and women on the site, and double-digit growth at Target in 2021.
Bravo Sierra offers 15 products, including deodorant and body spray, body wash, hair grooming paste, face moisturizer, lip balm, shaving foam and dry shampoo in four scents: white vetiver and cedarwood; citrus and cedarwood; sandalwood and fig, and tonka bean and lemon.
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The Series B funding will be put toward further supporting the brand’s military community, accelerating the omnichannel strategy, including retail growth in mass, military and e-commerce channels, and investing in product innovation. It will also help the brand launch products at Walmart stores in August, which will bring the retail footprint to more than 5,000 doors.
“It’s been a pretty wild ride,” Guilbert said. “No consumer brand or a brand in our space had an easy ride, but fortunately we’ve been able to leverage the mission of the company. We’ve been working hard to get Walmart since we started our company. They’re the largest employer of veterans in the country — I would say it’s the right place and right time when it comes to the current state of affairs.”
The cofounders’ experience in the beauty and personal care industry certainly helped them land Walmart, as did their rapid expansion in retail and e-commerce, but Guilbert also called out Walmart’s American Lighthouses initiative, the retailer’s latest initiative on top of its Bring It Home to the USA initiative from 1985, meant to support American manufacturing.
“Walmart doubled down last year with a multibillion-dollar commitment, support of the military community as a whole and needed to see we weren’t falling into any marginal community, political position or advanced any opinion,” Guilbert said. “We position ourselves as America’s personal care company. It’s an idealistic goal in the current state of things.”
In addition to raising funds, the brand has added Nicolas Geiger from L’Occitane Group and an adviser for Redo Ventures to its board of directors. Geiger was chairman of L’Occitane in Japan and is brand director of L’Occitane in Brazil, and acquired cosmetics company Sol de Janeiro and organic skin care brand Grown Alchemist. They are also exploring cologne, which they describe as the “ultimate litmus test of positioning for the brand,” and expanding on its bestselling products.
“We saw that people gravitated to body care and hygiene products and saw in our feedback it was a winning formula,” Bernet said. “We went back to the drawing board and going to expand on scents with scent designer Lucas Sieuzac. We’re expanding into new categories within personal care for 2023.”