Guthy Renker Ventures has invested in hair-care business Aquis.
Aquis, which has raised $4 million total in seed funding, has spent the past 18 months laying the groundwork for its future expansion. Right now, the business sells hair towels that have proprietary drying technology called Aquitex that is meant to pull water away from hair strands quickly to diminish damage and frizz.
With Guthy Renker Ventures on board, Aquis is planning to develop and launch a new hair-care system. Cochief executive officers Britta Cox and Suveen Sahib Aquis’ were mostly mum on the details (it launches in 2018), the husband-and-wife team described it as “nontraditional” with “some habit changes” — a departure from the shampoo and conditioner norm. “Hair care is too much of an effort these days,” Sahib said. “It has to become faster, simpler, sustainable for everyone.”
Aquis’ full system, towel included, is designed to keep hair healthy and minimize breakage. “The system will also save time,” Cox said.
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“Education is a key part of the whole process, and that’s where Guthy brings in significant expertise,” Sahib said. “It’s about explaining the process…for us, that was a key for going all out at a mass level — being able to communicate that story effectively.”
The towels, which come in a turban style or regular, sell for between $30 and $45 at retailers like Sephora, Ulta Beauty, the Hut Group, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, Mecca, Joyce Beauty, Lane Crawford, QVC, Glamsquad and Violet Grey — they’re also distributed internationally. Industry sources estimated the business will have about $5 million in sales for 2017, but that number is expected to climb to between $25 million and $30 million for 2018.
For Guthy Renker, the move underscores a focus on expanding into new beauty categories, said chief executive officer Richard Odum. “This move underlines Guthy Renker’s focus on expanding into new beauty categories and acting on consumer trends,” he said. “Aquis’ passion for quality and its mission-based outlook make for a highly successful brand. The brand’s path to scale is clearly defined and will benefit from Guthy Renker’s expertise in direct to consumer marketing across the e-tail, TV, retail and home shopping channels.”
In addition to the new investment, Aquis has lined up a board that includes Clarisonic’s Dr. Robb Akridge and Blythe Jack (a personal investor). Next steps for the business include solidifying working relationships with salons and becoming part of back-bar services (right now Aquis works with Jean Claude Biguine Salons). The business also recently hired Maurizo Bandi from L’Oreal as the marketing director and Sarah Kamshoshy from Biossance as director, brand and digital marketing. Guthy Renker will be in charge of distributing the hair-care line when it comes out through its direct channels, and Aquis is on the hunt for one retail partner, Cox said.
Guthy Renker has historically invested in beauty companies in addition to building its own. The business still has an investment in Proactiv, which it sold to Nestlé Skin Health in 2016, and had an investment in It Cosmetics before the company was sold to L’Oréal for $1.2 billion, also in 2016. Recently, Guthy Renker affiliates have launched brands like Volaire, which is meant to give hair volume, and Polished by Dr. Lancer, a skin-care collaboration between Harold Lancer and Ryan Seacrest.