Despite a downturn in nail sales, Ciaté London is having its best year yet, reaping double-digit growth, said the company’s founder and creative director Charlotte Knight. In key accounts, Ciaté (an acronym for Color, Innovation, Aspiration, Trend and Extraordinary) is experiencing triple-digit comparable-store sales, she added.

This story first appeared in the May 30, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Fueled by that success, Knight will extend Ciaté into color cosmetics. She plans to bring the same game-changing products to color that she delivered in nail. Ciaté, according to The NPD Group, was a key driver in the meteoric rise in nail-care sales over the past few years. So attractive was nail care that copycats emerged, which resulted in a saturated category with a lot of product duplication.

“It is going to become more and more challenging to define a point of difference between brands and retail assortments to maintain an edge,” said Knight, adding that there is a “limited number of credible” nail-lacquer suppliers. “The brands that will succeed and continue to thrive are those that take the innovation into their own hands. And this is the core of Ciaté. Creativity is not a process that is delivered to us, it is created by us.”

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Despite being a small company, Knight, a former nail technician, developed breakthrough nail products, such as the Caviar Manicure, followed by Velvet and Chalkboard Manicures. Drawing influences from fashion, Knight said she never switches off her creative juices. She’s built a huge and loyal fan and retailer base. “Within the six months after the Caviar launch, we went from 400 points of sale to 3,500. And our growth was 1,200 percent. Over the past three years, we have experienced stellar growth, turning a revenue of a modest $500,000 in 2011 to be being set to deliver $20 million this year,” she said.

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Strong retail partners such as Sephora, as well as social media (a single tweet can grow sales overnight) punctuated with robust blogging and vlogging contributed to the explosive growth. Even with the first decline in nails in four years, Ciaté experienced comp growth of 250 percent in the U.S., Asia and France.


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