Serial entrepreneur Katherine Power has raised a $20 million Series A led by L Catterton for Merit, her makeup brand that is sold online and at Sephora.
Marcy Ventures and Sonoma Brands also invested in the round.
Power launched Merit in early 2021, during the pandemic, and said that she plans to use the funding to propel the brand’s growth, including a rapid rollout into retail. Merit’s minimalist products are meant to allow people to create an entire makeup look in five minutes, and are positioned as luxury for less — all stock keeping units are priced under $38.
“When it came to their beauty routines, we had a year where we got used to our natural hair texture and bare nails and lost the eyelash extensions and we were just on Zoom and we really just wanted to look like ourselves but better,” Power, Merit’s chief executive officer, said on a Zoom call. “We launched in January, which I think is historically not usually a time that you launch a new brand, but it just felt right to us, it just felt like a fresh start. It’s that time where you sort of reevaluate everything that you do and everything you put in your body and on your body.”
“It exceeded every expectation,” Power said of the launch.
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Merit’s average order volume is $90 on its website, according to the brand, and on launch day, sold one product every 17 seconds. Broadly, “clean” makeup is trending, with other brands like Gucci Westman’s Westman Atelier, Ilia and Saie garnering sales and attention.
“We did see such traction and momentum so quickly.…We really wanted to take advantage of that and start investing in growth in our entire omnichannel strategy,” Power said.
By the end of 2021, Power said the brand will be in more than 800 brick-and-mortar doors, including Sephora U.S., Sephora Canada and Sephora at Kohl’s.
“That’s just in our first full year, so that’s a very aggressive rollout for a start-up, and we want to be able to take advantage of all the marketing opportunities and shelf space that we’ve been given,” Power said.
“Everything we launch from here on out will be developed through the lens of minimalism,” Power said. “In color cosmetics, but also entering other categories of this consumer’s life.”
Merit plan to expand into accessories, hair, fragrance and skin care, according to a statement from the company. Power said the business will stay in “beauty and self care.”
Merit is just one of Power’s many projects. She founded Who What Wear, debuted popular skin care brand Versed in 2019, and in 2020, partnered with Cameron Diaz for wine business Avaline.
At the same time, Power partnered with Greycroft managing partner Dana Settle to launch a special purpose acquisition vehicle, which hit the public markets earlier this year. The SPAC, named Powered Brands, has yet to make any acquisitions — but Power says she’s working on it. The business just hired former Shiseido vice president of global M&A Mito Yamada as chief operating officer.
“She has tremendous experience in M&A, having done that for about five years, but she’s incredibly strategic and thinks like an operator,” Power said. “When it comes to thinking about building out a business, she can think about both vision and strategy, as well as how to execute it.”
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