Nicole Ostoya, a beauty industry veteran, has taken her years of learnings and launched her own skin care brand: Neon Hippie. It was available from Monday exclusively at Neiman Marcus.
“I get that beauty is really crowded, but I do feel like Neon Hippie does stand out,” she said. “It’s so ingredient-focused and so transparent.”
All ingredients are listed in each product description on the brand’s website, neonhippie.com, but Ostoya takes it a step further; when visitors click on an ingredient, its benefits are explained.
At the root, found in many products, is a proprietary “7 Shroom Complex” made with chaga, reishi, shiitake, tremella, trametes versicolor, cordyceps and coprinus.
“I started researching all of these mushrooms, and mushrooms really can do in nature what chemicals can do,” she said.
For example, shiitake can act as a retinol, “just a little slower and more natural,” she explained, and tremella holds 500 times its weight in moisture.
The brand estimates $40 million in first-year sales.
Ostoya has introduced a $125 face oil (available in a smaller size for $50); $85 hyaluronic acid serum (with Zanthalene to firm and four types of hyaluronic acid for moisture); $80 vitamin C serum; $75 peptide cream; $60 Electric Flower Serum (a moisture bomb with an oil finish); $30 cleanser, and $25 lip treatment. The entire line is formulated in California, with recyclable packaging and glass coming from Italy. The design is bright and bold.
“It smiles at you when you open the boxes,” Ostoya said. “It’s happy. Brain chemistry is a real thing.”
Ostoya spent 20 years at Nordstrom, then worked at Benefit Cosmetics before starting her own product development business. She tapped chemist Florence Nacino, a longtime collaborator, to create the formulas.
“This has been in me forever,” said Ostoya. “I’ve made so many formulas and products and design brands for other people, and I wanted to do one the way I thought was the right way. And it might not be the right way for everybody, but it was the right way for what I thought the world needed right now.”
Growing up in Napa, California, “with a hippie mom,” she took inspiration from the hippie movement. And while she imagines buyers will be between 35 to 55 years old, she sees the brand messaging resonating with younger shoppers, too.
“I feel like all these Gen Zs and Millennials are kind of New Age hippies — they’re neon hippies. They respect science, but they still have some of those old foundations of loving each other, peace, love the Earth,” she said.
Next, with her team of eight, she’ll introduce an eye cream in May, as well as Neon Hippie sun products down the line. A cleanser is coming in the fall, along with a new collection.
“We’re doing solid skin care, less water,” she said. “Similar formulas but travel-friendly, smaller packaging, refillable.”