Babe has charmed U.S. retailers with its saucy Australian attitude.
The Melbourne-based natural beauty brand that isn’t afraid to inform shoppers its body scrubs help them “get a juicy booty” and “say booya to toned, tight and hydrated skin” recently entered Sephora online after rolling out to Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters stores. In total, Babe’s assortment spans 12 products priced from $24 to nearly $80.
“We are telling the story how we want to tell it. We are not checking ourselves to be polite all the time. We are just trying to be real people at the end of the day. Our customers are real girls. The product is authentic, and our language is authentic,” said Babe founder Kim Peirce. “The voice comes from me. We are not Estée Lauder or L’Oréal. We don’t have a big marketing team telling us we need something funny.”
Babe comes by its boldness honestly. The brand is rooted in an audacious fortieth birthday present Peirce gave to herself: she decided to quit her lucrative management consultant job in the oil, gas and mining industry to pursue entrepreneurial aspirations. Four start-ups later, including two failures in technology and one in organic teas that Peirce sold, Babe has succeeded beyond expectations.
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“I really quickly could see the potential and growth of the brand,” said Peirce, elaborating, “Babe was from the beginning what I was most passionate about it. I have always loved essential oils and fragrance. When I was traveling for work in the Middle East, I would look at the souks there and explore the essential oils. I did a cosmetic chemistry course to get the basics and developed it at home.”
At its launch three years ago, Babe introduced a trio of powdered dry exfoliators: Green Tea Body Scrub, Coffee Body Scrub and Himalayan Pink Salt Body Scrub. To stick to its natural positioning and avoid chemical preservatives, Peirce stayed away from water, which intensifies microbial activity. And she omitted oil out of a personal preference. “I don’t like being greasy,” cringed Peirce.
To compliment the scrubs, Babe released Body Soufflé creams in Pink Rose, Verbena Gypsy and Wild Daisy scents. “We wanted to make something super hydrating, but not thick like a body butter,” explained Peirce. The brand continued to expand its product assortment with Be Rad Organic Body Wash, Organic Charcoal Hand Wash and Organic Wild Hand Cream. The latest product is the soak Sparkling Rose Bath Milk.
At first, Peirce discovered 18- to 24-year-old shoppers were flocking to its body scrubs. Then, Babe moved older with its more expensive Body Soufflés drawing 30- to 40-year-olds into the fold. “We weren’t targeting a certain demographic. I was just developing what I wanted to use. I enjoy bathing and exfoliating,” said Peirce. However, Babe’s Instagram-worthy packaging (check out the vivid script on its hand washes and hand cream) clearly attracted the highly visual social-media generation.
Peirce didn’t initially intend to take Babe to stores, but Urban Outfitters and boutiques came calling early on and she promptly changed course by venturing into wholesale. Today, the brand has spread to in excess of 350 doors globally. Since 2013, its sales have increased at an average annual rate of 315 percent.
“There are thousands and thousands of beauty products out there, many of them are mass-produced, many of them are made in China and many of them are absolutely full of parabens and other chemicals that might keep the products looking a certain way on shelf, but a differentiator for us is we are speaking to the natural space and it’s still emerging,” said Peirce. “Our goal is to keep bringing out products that are a little bit left of center and not everywhere yet in the natural space.”