Celebrity makeup artist Scott Barnes said his namesake cosmetics brand has been discontinued after a relationship with investors soured, but he is seeking new funding to revive the brand as early as spring.
This story first appeared in the January 13, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Scott Barnes beauty brand, which altered the landscape of cosmetic marketing when it was introduced on QVC in 2003 before entering traditional retail channels, received roughly $1.4 million in investment from Lake Forest, Ill.-based Oryx Capital International Inc. starting in 2007. Two months into Oryx’s involvement, Barnes said he began to sense the private equity firm wasn’t a good fit.
“Literally, it was a constant battle to get stuff into the stores. Within three weeks [on the shelves], it was gone. I was like, ‘Can you all see there is a demand for the product?’ It was just common sense stuff,” he said. “This happens so much with a start-up business, especially with makeup artists in the press because [investors] expect that everything is going to run without putting in effort.”
Nicole Korczak and Richard Dallas, who handled Scott Barnes for Oryx Capital Investment, are no longer with Oryx and could not be reached for comment. A representative at the company said that Oryx is dissolving. Scott Barnes was not Oryx Capital International’s only business connection to the beauty industry. In 2003, the firm acquired private label manufacturer Cosmolab through a business unit called Specialty Packaging Holdings.
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Barnes has wrested control of his license back from Oryx and has hired Peter Chong, who has a finance background with stints at Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital and Citigroup, to be his chief financial officer. Barnes’ current objective is to find a new partner who can initially invest $2 million to $5 million in the Scott Barnes brand but would have a long-term strategy to put some $20 million into the company to upgrade the packaging, expand the product lineup and grow a broad retail network.
“My ultimate goal is to have an investor that understands cosmetics lines, understands me and understands where [the Scott Barnes brand] needs to go,” said Barnes. “It needs to be more accessible. We were in New York and L.A., but there was nothing in the Midwest. I would love to be in a Dillard’s or a Macy’s, where people can access it….It was a prestige line. It was beautiful and everybody was proud to have it. It was just so mismanaged.”
Scott Barnes cosmetics contained approximately 140 stockkeeping units and was carried at Saks Fifth Avenue, Holt Renfrew, specialty boutiques and on QVC. Barnes estimated that the brand generated $2 million to $5 million in sales annually. Body Bling, a shimmering body lotion, Eye Ice, a loose eye shadow and Chic Palettes have been among his most popular items.
Barnes’ fame is closely tied to his work with Jennifer Lopez, for whom he cultivated a sun-kissed look with bronzed skin and pale lips. Shannon Levy, owner of The Beauty Closet in Studio City, Calif., attributes the success of his cosmetic brand in her store, where it is a bestseller priced from $18 to $55, with Barnes’ ability to create products that enable customers to capture that Lopez-inspired look in their daily lives.
“A lot of my makeup-artist customers especially are really, really hoping he brings back the line. They are fanatics about it,” said Levy. “I had a girl cry the other day because she couldn’t get Body Bling.”
Barnes, whose latest projects include working on a book tentatively titled “About Face” that will illustrate mistakes women make in their regular makeup regimens and directing a music video for singer Kat DeLuna, is brimming with plans to improve his brand when it is reintroduced, such as enhancing the packaging, adding liquid foundations and delving into a skin care range. “There is stuff that I want to do to make it more beautiful,” he said. “It was Off-Broadway, now it is going on Broadway.”