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EXCLUSIVE: Ilia Beauty Founder Sasha Plavsic on New Eye Cream and Expanding Skin Care, Following Famille C Acquisition

The California brand releases its Bright Start Activated Eye Cream on Tuesday.

Ilia Beauty is leaning into skin care.

The brand, launched in 2011, introduces its Bright Start Activated Eye Cream on Tuesday.

Priced at $46, key ingredients include sea fennel extract (a plant-based retinol alternative meant to brighten, firm and smooth, according to the brand), an upcycled avocado extract (a zero-waste active meant to reduce the look of dark circles and puffiness), as well as caffeine and peptides (which also help depuff). It’s made to tackle under-eye issues so people can apply concealer more smoothly.

Founder Sasha Plavsic has been infusing skin care ingredients into her cosmetics for years, with sustainability in mind. (To recycle the cream, buyers can request a free shipping label at Iliabeauty.com/recycling and recycle the tube, tip and cap through Pact Collective.) She began formulating makeup products inside her family’s garage and turned the business into a $100 million brand in 2021 — which was acquired by the Courtin-Clarins family holding company, Famille C, in February of 2022.

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Priced at $46, Ilia Beauty’s Bright Start Activated Eye Cream utilizes sea fennel extract, a plant-based retinol alternative. Courtesy of Ilia Beauty

“It’s the first time they’ve ever acquired anybody, so it’s new for them,” Plavsic said of Famille C. “And it’s new for us.…Everybody wants to see their brands succeed. And for the buyers, they want to see that because they’ve paid for it and they need it to do well. So, I think with that in mind, and because it’s so new for both of us, it’s a lot of learnings. We are eager to make it successful together, and that’s a nice feeling.”

Ilia Beauty saw 40 percent total year-to-year growth in 2022 and projects a 50 percent increase in its skin care category in 2023, according to the company. So far, releases outside color have been a priming serum, blue light mist, overnight lip treatment and reviving balm.

As the founder, Plavsic is driving product developments, creative and marketing and looks to introduce more skin care. But the products need to “talk to each other,” she said: “One of the biggest things that we did a few years ago was with the Skin Tint. I was having a really hard time having my foundation talk to my moisturizer and to my SPF, and how do those things communicate.”

The Super Serum Skin Tint — the brand’s hero product, selling more than 1 million units since launching in 2019 — is a foundation, moisturizer and SPF in one. Moving forward, the goal is to create products that solve problems and work seamlessly with each other, while continuing to listen to the customer base (a loyal one, aged 18 to 65).

“We get to rely on some expertise and have access to information, raw materials, regulatory, which with any acquisition is very big — and ensure that is running correctly,” Plavsic added, of Famille C. “We do have in-house regulatory now, and so I think those are benefits that we can really lean into with the acquisition.”

Now a team of about 100 (they were only 20 in 2019), an office remains in Laguna Beach, California, where the brand is headquartered, though most employees work remotely. (Plavsic was in Laguna Beach before relocating to Canada, where she’s originally from.) Ilia Beauty plans to possibly open satellite offices in the Los Angeles area and New York City, she revealed, and adapt a hybrid work model.

Next, the focus is on “developing out to the brand story, revisiting our values and thinking about where we want this brand to go in the next decade,” Plavsic said. “That’s a big focus for 2023.”