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Gurwitch Products Readies Nyakio for Launch

The Africa-inspired product line is set to debut exclusively on HSN and next month.

Gurwitch Products, owner of Laura Mercier cosmetics and Révive skin care, is introducing a new Africa-inspired product line called Nyakio to its portfolio.

The move is designed to help build the firm into a “consortium of prestige beauty businesses,” said Gurwitch chief executive officer Claudia Poccia.

Set to debut exclusively on HSN and next month, industry sources estimate Nyakio could generate between $5 million and $10 million in the first 18 months at retail.

Founded by beauty entrepreneur and first-generation American of Kenyan descent, Nyakio Kamoche Grieco, whose first name translates to “hard-working woman in the sunshine,” the brand is designed to pay homage to her culture and to share her family’s beauty secrets. “My earliest childhood memory of a beauty secret that was passed down to me was spending time on my grandmother’s farm. She was a coffee and sugar cane farmer. She would farm barefoot and at the end of the day she would come back, boil her coffee beans down into an elixir, add things like honey, and then use real sugar cane rods to exfoliate her dry skin,” said Grieco.

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She turned this memory into her first product, the Kenyan Coffee Body Scrub, launched in August 2002 at Apothia by Ron Robinson at Fred Segal. Although Gurwitch acquired Nyakio in January 2009, it had been held back from distribution until the brand was ready to relaunch. “We did take a pause and said, Wait a minute, let’s really bring this to life in the way that [Grieco] envisioned,” said Poccia. “We did the due diligence with Nyakio to make sure that everything — from the product proposition to the packaging — was in support of her vision and the DNA of the brand.”

Grieco said it was important that her line also celebrate the sophistication and multiculturalism of Africa — two facets she saw as underrepresented in the States.

“I never really found the world of Africa was represented in a sophisticated way in beauty,” she said, adding that women in North Africa tend to be of Middle Eastern descent while many of those in South Africa have blonde hair. Nyakio’s initial launch will include three caffeine-based products, a $55 reformulated version of her original body scrub, a Kenyan Coffee Face Polish, $34, and Hydrating Face Oil with Kola Nut, $49, her first in an upcoming line of facial skin care called the Kola Nut collection. “Oils to me also are important because they are used so often in ritual for anointing, celebration in Africa,” said Grieco. “It’s the sophisticated nod to ritual there but done in a modern way.” Grieco will present the products on HSN on May 14 during three 30-minute segments. The lineup will become available on four weeks after the broadcast.

Ranging from $20 to $49, five more Kola Nut skin care products — a hydrating face cleanser, lip balm, face lotion with SPF 20, face cream and eye cream — will launch in August. “I wanted a results-driven brand, but I wanted it to be natural when it could be,” said Grieco.

To get the word out, Poccia plans to implement a robust digital campaign across all social media platforms as well as sampling. Poccia said the HSN platform was a perfect match for Nyakio because it would “bring the brand story directly to the consumer in a very rich and vibrant way to a broader audience than a traditional retail setting out of the box,” said Poccia. HSN’s ceo, Mindy Grossman added, “Nyakio has created a unique brand that focuses on natural, authentic, top-quality ingredients for every skin type. We look forward to the launch and working together with Gurwitch to further grow our businesses.” The plan, said Poccia and Grieco, is to build it into a global lifestyle brand with additional categories.