Honest Beauty is gaining scale.
The beauty component of Jessica Alba’s The Honest Co. has reached more than $10 million in retail sales, according to industry sources, and will soon be on its way to new doors in Canada. The brand, which is formulated without certain ingredients like aluminum and parabens, is also gradually rolling out to more Ulta Beauty doors, where Honest and Ulta said it is selling well.
“We had a great September at Ulta,” said Chris Thorne, Honest’s chief marketing officer. “We saw huge lifts — 60 percent lifts off our baseline — primarily driven by newness in the category,” he said, referencing Honest Beauty’s newly launched hair-care products.
Ulta confirmed Honest Beauty’s strong sales. “It is unique in that the brand itself is both color and skin care, and so it lives…on our prestige floor, where it sort of bridges the two worlds so that’s a point of difference for the brand, certainly,” said Tara Simon, senior vice president of prestige merchandising for Ulta, who said the retailer is “pleased” with the brand. “It’s going to more doors now…. We look a couple times a year at brand expansion and how we will grow when it comes to adding it to more existing stores, and we feel really strongly about it,” Simon said.
Honest’s hair care line is in all of Ulta’s more than 900 doors and Simon said the brand’s color is doing particularly well with shoppers. The brand’s color and skin care are in 250 to 300 Ulta stores.
Recent color launches include two palettes, priced at $34 and $35, created by celebrity makeup artist Daniel Martin, who joined as creative color consultant on the product development side.
Outside of Ulta, Honest Beauty is also sold direct to consumer, a segment that makes up a little more than half of its overall beauty sales, according to the company. Next year, Honest Beauty is branching into Canada, Thorne confirmed, after receiving customer requests for the products. Honest already ships to Canada from its web site, and some of its non-beauty items can be purchased at Canadian retailer London Drugs. By the end of next year, Honest Co. products expects to be in more than 2,000 doors in Canada. The company expects its Beauty line to become available in prestige retail stores in Canada in 2018.
The business is also considering setting up distribution a bit farther from its Santa Monica, Calif., home, and is looking to Australia and Western Europe. “We’ll look to do it as fast as possible because there is that demand,” Thorne said.
Back when Honest Beauty first materialized, the line had a pop-up shop at The Grove in California, which the business said was successful and provided valuable feedback. The pop-up ended in May. “While the pop-up store is no longer open, it certainly opened our eyes to opening Honest Beauty stores down the road,” Thorne said, adding the beauty business had no immediate plans to open its own stores.
As geographic expansion continues, Honest Beauty is working on pumping out new products, Thorne said, which should be launching quarterly or more frequently. “We’ve built out a pipeline for the next few years…a lot of products in skin and in hair is the primary focus for 2017,” he said.
Honest Beauty’s growth comes at a time when its parent company has hired bankers from Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Morgan Stanley to consider going public or finding a buyer, financial sources have said. It also comes as the effectiveness of the business’ sunscreen and ingredients in its cleaning products have come under fire. (Honest’s cleaning products are being reformulated with a sugar-based surfactant, which will eliminate the ingredients that were questioned, a source said.)
Sources have said that Honest has about $300 million in sales, and has had acquisition talks with Johnson & Johnson and Unilever. Honest declined to comment on financial transaction-related matters.
Just over one year in, Honest Beauty is on its way to becoming a more important part of the overall business, the company indicated. Industry sources estimated the beauty division could double in its second year.
“It is becoming more and more significant,” Thorne said of Honest Beauty.