In 1994, every “Clueless”-obsessed teen could be seen wearing Hard Candy nail polish and the rubber ring that came hooked around the cap.
This story first appeared in the August 29, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Today, Dineh Mohajer, who founded the Nineties nail phenomenon at 21 and sold it to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 1999, has returned at 41 with a new nail venture called Smith & Cult, a 30-shade lacquer collection including a top and base coat.
“Smith is the elegant version and that’s autobiographical based on my partner [Jeanne Chavez] because she’s really elegant and she’s such a lady,” said Mohajer. “And I’m so not a lady and I’m so clumsy and need a muzzle on my mouth or at least an edit button. Together, those things make what we create.”
“Creative” is definitely a word to describe the new line. Each $18 nail lacquer, which is housed in a circular glass bottle and topped with a silver dented cap, is inspired by and representative of the experiences depicted by a woman in her diary entries. Every shade includes a quirky name and unique narrative. For example Dirty Baby, a metallic black that features silver glitter, tells the story of girl who wore a black Ann Demeulemeester dress to a wedding in a sea of salmon colored gowns.
To go along with the collection, Mohajer art-directed, created and illustrated a journal titled “Diary of a Beauty Junkie.” The booklet tells an individual anecdote about six of the 30 shades.
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“[The line] is based on being a beauty junkie and having diaries that come in and out and are ever-evolving,” added Mohajer. “It keeps the freshness of the line.”
The Luxury Brand Partners-owned Smith & Cult will mainly be distributed in salons. The diaries, which are not for sale, will be available for consumers to read while receiving a service.
“Five to 10 percent of sales for us come from department stores,” said Tev Finger, chief executive officer of Luxury Brand Partners. “It kind of anchors the brand in luxury [and] we try to cross over and not be seen as just a salon brand.”
According to Finger, 40 percent of the salons that the company deals with actually perform nail services and 70 percent of them sell nail polish.
While Essie and OPI dominate salons, Smith & Cult is looking to offer something a bit more luxurious.
“The cool thing about [the nail polish] is that hairstylists really do love stories,” said Finger. If you look at R+Co and Oribe, these rich stories have really served us well within the salon channel. It’s something stylists can talk to the client about and get excited about it.”
Finger added that Smith & Cult will introduce new nail shades quarterly and will launch a line of lip gloss in the summer of 2015.
The complete collection, which had a soft launch in about 20 salons in August, will be sold in about 250 salons in October and that will double by the end of 2015. Additionally, it will be distributed at Net-a-porter and C.O. Bigelow. Internationally, Smith & Cult will be available at Space NK.
Finger declined to discuss sales projections, but industry sources estimate Smith & Cult could do upward of $2 million at retail globally in its first year on counter. Industry sources also predict sales will double next year.