Laura DeLuisa LaRocca wants to spark a skin care gold rush.

This story first appeared in the August 29, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The 41-year-old, who founded the Southern California makeup brand DuWop with Christina Bartolucci, has set out on her own with Rocca, a skin care line infused with 24-karat gold in a so-called Cellular Gold Complex. Rocca is priced from $75 to $150 retail and is scheduled for a September launch in Los Angeles’ Apothia at Fred Segal.

“Gold adds antimicrobial properties and anti-inflammatory properties,” said LaRocca. “It gives the products a kick — and it’s so pretty.”

Rocca’s positioning is in between cosmeceuticals and green brands because it contains natural and synthetic ingredients to stimulate collagen growth and improve elasticity. On the natural end, ingredients include vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, apricot kernel oil, jojoba seed oil, fulvic acid, green tea extract, orange peel oil and squalene from olives and witch hazel, in addition to gold. Peptides are key components on the science side.

“Everybody has gone organic,” said LaRocca, “but I don’t think pure organic will help against the aging process, so I was trying to bring science and nature together.”

The debut Rocca assortment is kicking off with four items: 1.7-oz. gold moisture, 4-oz. gold cleanser, 1-oz. eye cream and 1-oz. C-gold gel with 15 percent stabilized vitamin C. LaRocca pointed to the C-gold gel as the line’s standout product. “That is what friends and family have liked the most,” she said.

Ron Robinson, founder of Apothia, was initially hesitant to consider Rocca because he didn’t need more skin care in his store, which carries Aesop, Kiehl’s, Lisa Hoffman and Ole Henriksen, among other brands. “I just don’t need another skin care line if it isn’t really fantastic — and I tried it, and it was phenomenal,” he said. “It really felt great, and the efficacy of it was very good.”

LaRocca hopes that other prestige retailers — department stores and specialty shops in particular — will agree with Robinson and expects to generate $1 million in first-year sales. She has limited the line so far to four items because she believes the tight collection allows customers — her primary target is women in their 30s to 50s — to not be overwhelmed by the prices.

After 10 years at DuWop, LaRocca is no longer involved with the brand’s day-to-day operations, although she still holds a position on the board and is a shareholder. She helped develop DuWop into a $10 million business and is building on the lessons learned from DuWop’s expansion to grow Rocca.

“I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. The most fun we had at DuWop was the first three to four years creating the products and buzz. I wanted to see if I could do it again,” said LaRocca.

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