Prai Beauty has brought on board Nigel Barker, the photographer and former judge on “America’s Next Top Model,” as global creative director.
The role at the fast-growing skin-care brand known for its neck solutions comes after Barker became artistic director of men’s wear clothier Flag and Anthem earlier this year. Barker launched the beauty lines Beauty Equation and BE Cosmetics with his makeup artist wife Cristen in 2013, but has never before been associated with a beauty business other than his own labels.
“We feel a lot of brands in the beauty industry have left women over 50 behind. It is a little bit like Hollywood. Nigel really celebrates that all women are beautiful, and we want to celebrate all women together,” said Cathy Kangas, chief executive officer and founder of Prai Beauty. “We didn’t want him to be just another spokesperson with no real meaning.”
In a statement, Barker added, “I am thrilled to be working with Prai Beauty, [which] actively promotes a positive message around real aging. I see beauty through my camera lens and know that a woman’s neck is one of the most alluring parts of her body, framing her face and helping to tell her story.”
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Barker’s first order of business for Prai Beauty will be to head a search for the 2017 face of its Ageless product range that includes Throat & Décolletage Cream, Chin Up Sculpt Serum, Eye D-Crease, Eye Dark Circle Corrector, Face & Throat Cleanser and Eye Tight Uplift Serum. Dubbing the search “America’s Next Top Role Model,” Kangas said, “It is looking for somebody with a heart and somebody who is doing good things for the world, not just a model.”
Kangas and Barker share a passion for animal protection. The two met more than a decade ago on an expedition to stop the Canadian seal hunt. “I have worked with him on that level, and he is a fabulous person and a great person to work with,” said Kangas, pointing out that Prai Beauty donates roughly $250,000 a year to animal welfare charities.
Prai Beauty is confident that the relationship with Barker will expand its customer base. “His audience and our audience are similar, and his audience is receptive to our brand, so we think we will gain new customers,” said Ashley Cannon, director of public relations and social media for the brand. Jokingly, Kangas chimed in, “On a funnier note, all the ladies in the office have a twinkle in their eye, and I’m not sure if that’s about the business side.”
Even without the association with Barker, the brand has been skyrocketing. On HSN, Kangas revealed its sales have increased from $3 million three years ago to a projected $20 million this year. The brand is also available on QVC in the U.K., France, Italy, Japan and Germany, TVSN in Australia, The Shopping Channel in Canada and CitrussTV in the U.A.E.
Kangas mentioned that Barker is keen on Prai Beauty building its presence in retail and will be participating in store appearances to promote the brand. Its products recently entered Boots and The Dorchester Spa in London, and Kangas mentioned the brand is aiming to open a neck bar at Selfridges. Entering specialty beauty retailers and department stores is a goal for Prai Beauty, and it’s in discussions to do so.
Kangas, who held positions at Tova Corp., Cartier and Revlon prior to starting Prai Beauty in 1999, isn’t shy about her ambitions for the brand. “We want to be bigger than Lauder. We all have big dreams here,” she said. “We want to be a real player in the beauty industry.”