Morphe has hired Jefferies to explore a capital raise, according to industry sources.
The business is said to have done about $350 million in sales for 2018, with nearly $100 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. The business has been backed by Elevate Brandpartners, which also backs sunglasses line Quay, since 2017. Elevate is backed by private equity firm Summit Partners.
Morphe confirmed it is looking to raise additional capital.
“We are exploring raising capital to support the ongoing growth of the business into new channels and international markets,” a spokeswoman told WWD.
Sources have speculated that Morphe has its eyes on the public markets, and one source said the next capital infusion may be a step before an initial public offering. Asked directly about the potential for an IPO in a December interview, the brand declined to comment.
Spokespeople for Jefferies and Summit didn’t immediately return requests for comment.
Morphe has gained widespread popularity in recent years due to its close-knit relationship with the influencer community. The company’s collaborations with beauty influencers including James Charles, Jaclyn Hill and Jeffree Star — who each have millions of subscribers on YouTube and scores of followers on Instagram — have helped propel the brand’s success.
In the past few years, Morphe has accelerated the rate of its store openings, which routinely draw crowds of thousands with influencer appearances. The brand has also built up its product offering, and expanded into complexion products with 60 shades of foundation earlier this year.
Morphe was founded in 2003 as a brush business, and was run mostly as a wholesale and trade show business. In 2009, the company was acquired by brother-and-sister team Linda and Chris Tawil, who built it out into a makeup business. Linda, who remains on board with the company as cofounder, told WWD in 2017 that she realized the power of social media after meeting influencers at a trade show.
The company has a history of starting its influencer relationships early, before content creators build a massive following. It also gives its influencer community affiliate codes, which earn their fans discounts on product.
Charles, who has more than 15 million YouTube subscribers and 15.2 million Instagram followers, told WWD in a 2018 interview that his relationship with Morphe started early — when he had 6,000 or 7,000 followers. “I got connected to them from Jaclyn Hill who is another big beauty guru.…I met Morphe, and they put me on their p.r. list and reposted me a few times, and every time I would go to the trade shows…I would go to the Morphe booth and try to say ‘hi’ to all the Morphe team members just to get to know them,” Charles told WWD.
Charles went on to create a palette with Morphe, which has sold out several times.