LONDON — With a fresh round of funding worth 10 million pounds and growth fueled by accelerated sales during lockdown, Bleach London is ready to plant its rainbow in U.S. with a salon set to open in L.A., and a direct-to-consumer launch of at-home hair dyes.
The London salon known for its dip-dyes and kaleidoscopic hair color is setting up a new, dedicated web platform for the U.S., with the products to go on sale in early May. The four-seat salon will open in June.
Cofounder and creative director Alex Brownsell will take on new clients for the first time in 10 years, and head a team of transatlantic stylists. The salon will be located on West 3rd Street in Los Angeles, and will offer an exclusive $1,000 color experience with Brownsell, which is promising “the best bleach on the West Coast.”
The company, which already has three salons in London — in Soho, Brixton and Dalston — said it sold one Bleach Kit every 15 seconds during lockdown last year, and has moved more than $40 million worth of products in the U.K. to date.
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The company said it saw a 600 percent increase in web sales and a 57 percent sales increase in its Super Cool Colours range, selling over half a million stock keeping units last year.
It offered video consultations throughout lockdown, in addition to their hair parties’ digital “dye-alongs.”
Female founders Brownsell and Sam Campbell launched Bleach London in 2010 with a salon focused solely on color. It pioneered techniques such as bright dip-dyes, and worked with bleaches, toners and semi-permanent dyes.
Six months after launch it developed an at-home product range, and later moved into virtual and digital services, urging customers to experiment and take risks with color.
Georgia May Jagger, a longtime friend of Brownsell and Campbell, is an investor in the business.
Campbell, who will be working alongside Brownsell after the L.A. salon opens, said that launching Bleach in the U.S. had always been a goal.
“As we’ve evolved, we’ve seen so much potential for our products and the salon in America,” she said.
She added that Brownsell’s portfolio of work, including global brand campaigns, fashion week collaborations, editorial shoots and celebrity clients “will be strong enough to carry onto such a huge platform, and our brand vision will resonate with this market. I also believe we’ve flipped the perception of at-home color, and there’s an appetite for our experimental approach in the market.”
She also noted that Bleach is one of the fastest-growing hair brands on TikTok and there is already a “very engaged and loyal American audience online. We can’t wait to connect with them in a new capacity and on a larger scale.”
Asked why the duo chose L.A. for the opening, Brownsell said “it’s the most exciting city in the world at the moment. My session work in fashion has allowed me to travel to L.A. regularly for shoots, and a lot of my high-profile clients are based there, including Georgia Jagger.”
She said that during her time in LA., she’s noticed that “people are more willing to try out new beauty trends and experiment with new looks, so it feels like the perfect fit.”
With regard to the differences between the U.K. and U.S. markets, she said there are none.
“Social media and the internet mean that trends and inspiration are global. Subculture no longer dictates how you look anymore, it’s more about what you glean from the mood board of Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest, and then how you choose to present your real-life avatar to the world.”
She believes the range “has universal appeal, and it caters to different hair types, so we are really excited to see what products are most popular and the mix of creativity that will come from a country as big and diverse as America.”
Asked about some of the trends she saw during lockdown, Brownsell said the prolonged period was “surprisingly experimental for home hair colorers. We saw lots of new customers trying out Bleach for the first time and really going for it.”
Among the most popular dyes were soft shades, such as pastel pinks and peaches, for first-timers. She added that as the year wore on people got bolder, opting for vivid shades “like our vibrant orange Tangerine Dream. We also launched a new shade called Gobby Pink because it was so highly requested.”
For the sake of translation, gobby means loudmouthed in England.
“We saw a lot of people trying experimental techniques that are popular in our salons, too, like bleach bits, dip-dyes, root clashes and multitoned streaks,” she added.
The team also saw a big increase in bleach blond customers learning the process and skills to maintain their color at home.
“As we’re coming to the end of lockdown, people have really become color experts. A lot of people enjoyed the boundary-less freedom of not being told ‘no’ by a stylist, which can happen in salons — but never at Bleach London,” Brownsell said.