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Target Accelerates Launches in Natural Beauty

Two upstart brands with unique positioning fit into Target's drive for natural options.

Target's New Natural Launches
Rebels Refinery Skull Lip Balm.

Target Corp. continues to go full throttle with less toxic personal-care brands. In particular, the chain has a sweet spot for those with compelling stories. Two lines now on shelves fit that bill. One is skin care made with tallow, the other company is best known for lip-balm packaged in skulls.

Natural is going front and center as Target spruces up its beauty department. It is a category Christina Hennington, senior vice president of Beauty and Essentials, said has “done well” for the chain. New in the lineup are naturally positioned brands Fatco and Rebels Refinery. The decision to add these niche lines reflects the discount chain’s fearless spirit to give fledgling brands a try.

Target even has a retail accelerator program called Target Takeoff to help discover fresh thinking and develop working relationships with start-ups. Fatco, in fact, participated in the first Target Takeoff, which focused on better-for-you brands. Target just announced its newest of them, which will give beauty brands an even bigger boost. According to Target, with consumers looking for smaller and niche brands focused on natural and multicultural products, the company wants to help them learn to scale to mass retail.

Target's New Natural Launches
Fatco’s Body Butta. Adam Sear adamsear.com

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The accelerator was key to Fatco’s growth, according to founder Cassy Burnside, who remembers when she couldn’t even get a manufacturer to talk to her. “The first phone call would go great, but then they’d get back to us saying they weren’t interested in a line using animal byproducts.”

Undaunted, she charged on, attracting the interest of Target, which added four stockkeeping units to about 500 stores culled from the brand’s 37-sku full assortment. Industry sources estimate the doors will nudge Fatco sales past the $1 million mark.

The Target selection includes Fat Stick, Cleansing Oil for Normal/Combo Skin, Calming Body Butta and Women’s Stank Stop Natural Deodorant.  The physical distribution follows the brand’s debut on target.com. A mechanical engineer by training, Burnside expanded on her hobby of making her own “better for you” products to launch Fatco. She started with $10,000 of her own money making small batches, but has revved up and looks to partner with retailers that make sense for the brand. The collection is crafted for men, women and children, and zeroes in on the science of oil dissolving oil to cleanse and treat skin. It is formulated with organic and paleo-friendly ingredients and is cruelty free. “Many brands shy away from animal byproducts, but they were used for years in skin care and there are good reasons to,” Burnside said, citing tallow’s healing and moisturizing properties.

While Fatco introduces people to the concept of skin care with fat applied to the face, three friends, who admitted to stealing beauty products from their mothers, are also getting a chance at Target. Rebels Refinery, launched in Canada five years ago, is a natural skin- and body-care line rolling out chain wide to Target. Target pinpointed nine sku’s it is housing in its upgraded men’s grooming department.

The founders, Eric Fallon, Elan Marks and Justin MacLean, were appalled by chemicals they saw in skin-care items and decided to create their own. They used funds awarded them on Canada’s “Dragons’ Den” (similar to “Shark Tank”) to make their custom skull lip-balm mold along with investments from Shaun Neff (known for his snow and skate head ware called Neff Headware as well as cofounding Sun Bum sun care). That product quickly soared to 50 percent of sales. “But we saw 80 percent of those buying were women,” said Fallon. The company changed its positioning from a line for men to one for “humans.” But with the positioning in men’s at Target, cofounder Marks hopes now women will steal from their men’s cabinets.

The total Rebels Refinery portfolio sports 20 sku’s ranging in price from $4.99 to $16.99. The lineup includes the popular Capital Vices Skull lip balm, hairstyling paste and Rehab Roller Under Eye Moisturizer. New items in the works include a solid cologne housed in a pocket watch.