Talk about good timing.
Juice Beauty, which formulates products with certified organic ingredients, has become one of the foremost labels in a notoriously difficult beauty category. In addition to significant growth — sales are said to be on track to hit $100 million for fiscal 2018, ending June 2019 — the brand has embarked on what’s likely to be its most ambitious endeavor to date: growing its “most important ingredients” via organic farming methods, according to Karen Behnke, founder and chief executive officer.
The brand has been around for nearly 13 years, but it wasn’t until recently that the business started to gain significant momentum. So why now?
It could just be a case of Behnke being in the right place at the right time. The beauty brand was founded as a skin-care range in 2005 when the wellness movement was just getting its footing (for reference, SoulCycle opened its first indoor cycling studio in 2006). However, it wasn’t until about a decade later that the desire for boutique fitness and organic and natural everything (inclusive of food, beauty, household cleaning supplies, etc.) expanded beyond the confines of TriBeCa and Los Angeles and to the mainstream.
Or it could be Behnke’s determination to dispel the notion that natural and organic skin care (and makeup as of 2015) couldn’t be as efficacious as their traditional counterparts. In an industry where the terms “natural” and “organic” have become baseless, she wouldn’t stop until she achieved the most rigorous organic standards. In a previous interview, Behnke maintained that all of Juice Beauty’s products meet guidelines for the California Organic Products Act, or COPA, which she called the “most strict regulation in the U.S requiring over 70% total organic content, which is the brand’s minimum standard.” She added that the brand has a “food grade” organic products rating for some products, meaning at least 95 percent organic content
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Or it could be Gwyneth Paltrow, who joined as creative director of makeup for the brand, which is also the parent of her three-year-old beauty venture, Goop by Juice Beauty. Paltrow’s involvement with Juice Beauty no doubt lifted brand awareness.
No matter how one looks at it, it’s clear that the brand is experiencing rapid growth. Behnke declined to comment on sales volume, but an industry source maintained that the brand is on track to double its 2017 retail sales of $50 million this year.
Behnke said Juice Beauty added more than 275 doors to its distribution in 2017, including Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and select Belk and Dillard’s doors. The brand’s presence at Blue Mercury and Ulta Beauty was upped (the latter took the brand from 930 doors to more than 1,050 and Juice Beauty is said to be among the top 10 skin-care brands at the retailer) and Sephora Canada’s successful e-commerce business with the organic range gave the retailer the confidence to roll the line out to all 65 doors.
“We have, in the last three to four months, expanded our distribution — and now we’re hyper-focused on our existing distribution. We expanded and now we want to focus. We are laser focused on doubling sales with each retailer this year,” Behnke said.
She gave more details on the two major initiatives for 2018, starting with the introduction of Juice Beauty’s highest end skin-care collection to date. Signal Peptides is a firming skin-care line composed of a $110 serum, to start, that’s available exclusively at Neiman Marcus until a national rollout in April. Behnke said the brand will add to the collection this summer and next year.
“We’re actually breaking ground right now,” she said of Juice Beauty’s foray into Farm to Beauty. The first organic apple and olive trees will soon be planted on land the brand leased from Price Family Vineyards & Estates, a 600-acre, sustainably certified farm in Sonoma, Calif. Sunflowers, evening primrose and sacred lilies will be planted later in the spring.
Similar to Tata Harper, who instituted her own “Farm to Face” farming practices into her organic skin-care brand, selling organic products wasn’t enough for Behnke.
“We have even more of a vision for our long term. We’re heavily in pursuit of more land,” added Behnke, who is scouting properties in Sonoma. “We’re committed to our organic farming because it limits pesticides in products and on the earth, but from a product sense, we’re quite sure that our positive clinical efficacy results from independent labs are exceeding expectations because of high antioxidant levels in our products, which is a result of organic farming.”
In addition to reinforcing Juice Beauty’s authority as a leader in organic beauty, owning land will help the organization to have more control over ingredients, and in general, be closer to crops. Behnke said growing “hero ingredients” such as apples, grapes and olives are a priority, and in five years’ time would like half of these ingredients to come from the brand’s own farms.
Behnke added: “We thought it would be really fun to ourselves learn and take our consumers on the journey of what it takes to convert the land from sustainably certified to certified organic. We will do that when we purchase our own land.”