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Skyler Brand Ventures Launches First Product, Plans Expansion

Hoping to recreate the success they enjoyed in past careers, a team of seasoned beauty veterans is getting back into the business.

NEW YORK — Hoping to recreate the success they enjoyed in past careers, a team of beauty veterans is getting back into the business.

Its first venture is Erasa XEP-30, a formula containing synthetic neuropeptides said to relax skin and lessen the appearance of fine lines. A patented vehicle system is designed to help the concentrate to penetrate skin, said Jules Zecchino, founder and chief technical officer at Skyler Brand Ventures, the research and development partner and incubator of BioMimetic Laboratories, the maker of Erasa XEP-30. He was previously vice president of research and development at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. The ingredient XEP-30 is a synthetic version of a snail neurotoxin that is said to act similar to botox. It is the latest in a trail of pharma-inspired skin care, such as collagen and alpha hydroxy acids.

“Neuropeptides are going to take the industry to its next performance level,” contended Zecchino, who led teams in pioneering many industry breakthroughs such as Fruition at Estéee Lauder and Ceramide Capsules while at Elizabeth Arden.

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Erasa XEP-30 launched online in May, and is gearing up for retail distribution, according to Zecchino.

The product retails for $160 for 1.7 ounces good for about eight to 10 weeks of use. Industry sources estimate the first year sales could exceed $15 million.

“We want women to see improvement and, more importantly, others to notice [reduction of wrinkles] because one of the things we learned is that when somebody else comments, you are on the road to success,” said Betsy Schmalz Ferguson, the president of Skyler, whose resume includes Lauder, American Flavors and Fragrances and Bath & Body Works.

But Erasa XEP-30 also underwent what Schmalz Ferguson called “pharmaceutical-like” rigorous testing. “There’s big competition with huge companies spending a ton of money. We knew we had to have what consumers want and that it would have to be addictive,” she said. “Through our tests people told us they noticed a difference and their friends saw a difference and they said they didn’t want to run out. That was our litmus test.”

Erasa’s clinical test results showed an average 64 percent reduction in lines and wrinkles within two weeks of use.

“We put so many ingredients in it to cover a wide range of consumer needs and that you see immediate effects as well as mid and long-term benefits, such as fewer dark spots,” said Donna Barasch, vice president of product development, who brings experience from Revlon, Avon and Lancôme to the equation.

The team says Skyler has a spirit of entrepreneurship honed at past companies, coupled with a lean start-up structure to launch the company. “We’ve brought our history with us,” said Schmalz Ferguson. “This company allows us to go back to the way the industry used to be,” she added ,noting that the company can be nimble in delivering products to market. For example, Erasa XEP-30 was developed in just over a year versus industry standards of three to four years. “And we go back to using intuition and research to discover product, but we also spend a lot of time with the customer, hanging out in stores and listening to how products are being sold. If the consumer did not respond as positively in tests as it has, we were walking away.”

That intelligence was used to launch Erasa XEP-30 as a multiuse product. “It mimics the solution a customer might seek from a dermatologist visit but doesn’t want to go to such drastic measures to improve her skin,” noted Schmalz Ferguson.

Without confirming any specifics, the Erasa team, which also includes Paul Wahlgren, the chief executive officer of BioMimetic Laboratories, said Erasa product line extensions and expansion to retail partners are in the works. In addition, Skyler Brand Ventures will incubate separate companies and will develop consumer skin-care companies for various trade channels.