Natural fragrance brand Skylar Body has raised its first round of capital.
The less-than one-year old label has raised $3 million from Upfront Ventures, Brian Lee — cofounder of the Honest Co. — and Amplify.LA.
The plan is to add more products — right now Skylar has four — as well as hire a team and embark on a digital marketing mission, according to founder Cat Chen, who was formerly at the Honest Co. as vice president of operations. The company makes four fragrances that sell for less than $100, Coral, Arrow, Meadow and Isle, and can be mixed and matched for personalization.
“We’re less than a year old, se definitely a lot of women don’t know about us and awareness is out biggest opportunity and what we’ll be doing with this fund-raiser,” Chen said. “In the future, we’ll expand into adjacent product categories [and do] the same thing in the scented space and natural space, so home fragrance and personal care are the additional categories we’ll be thinking about.”
Chen’s interest in fragrance started when she was growing up in Taiwan and had dry skin on her hands — to the point where they were peeling. Her mother gave her lotions, which served as the gateway to a fragrance obsession. As a teen, Chen was constantly hitting up Bath and Body Works at her local mall, and when she made her way to business school, she interned there.
That, combined with time at Honest Co., led her to investigate ingredients more thoroughly.
“I realized there are harmful chemicals, allergens, even animal ingredients used [in fragrance],” Chen said. “It wasn’t something I felt really good about, and the transparency is also very low.”
To shop with Skylar, which operates as a direct-to-consumer online business, customers can take a quiz to get a scent suggestion, or purchase a sample kit for $20. (It comes with a $20 credit.) So far, the business has more than 10,000 customers, according to Chen.
While Chen said “never say never” to the idea of wholesale and retail, she suggested that for now, Skylar is happy with the direct feedback loop it has established with customers.
“At this moment we want to focus on the direct-to-consumer business model because it’s working. We can see our customers are happy with it and we’re getting a lot of dialogue back and forth,” Chen said. That being said “It is scent, and there are certain advantages to being able to smell it in person.”