LONDON — Marcia Kilgore, founder of Bliss, Remède FitFlop, and Soap & Glory, made her name creating life-enhancing brands one at a time. Now, she’s planning to diversify and step up the pace.
The Canadian entrepreneur, famous for her witty tag lines and ability to connect with consumers, is launching a brand-building business that will allow her to partner with large-scale global retailers that want to launch exclusive private-label collections of cosmetics — and other products, too.
“It’s about creating authentic, niche brands in partnership with retailers. I enjoy that beginning, tapping into the zeitgeist, getting great ideas out there and a stream of products going,” said Kilgore in an exclusive interview with WWD. “I enjoy the creative aspect of the business, solving problems for new customers and connecting with them.”
Kilgore plans to provide her retail partners with ongoing product range development, advertising and marketing collateral, and a digital media hub to express each brand and link with customers.
“We are full-service, stopping at the point where we own and distribute the inventory,” Kilgore said.
She’s looking to do licensing deals and said the future could hold cosmetics and more, including food, beverages and toys — although there are no plans to create another footwear brand. Kilgore said she has three beauty deals in the works, and ongoing discussions with retailers in Asia, but declined to name the retailers.
Kilgore said she’s looking at large-scale retailers and is very interested in the mass, masstige and prestige markets. “Most of my ideas are pretty democratic, and I’m interested in reaching a lot of people,” she said.
The new company is called The Next Big Thing and the website is thenextbigthing.lu. The platform will launch officially within the next three to six months, and is funded by Kilgore alone.
She said she foresees the company growing organically and will be working on two to three new brands at any given time.
She’s also looking forward to the social aspect of building the brands and ensuring they have a distinct voice and “give back in a measurable, tangible way,” said Kilgore, pointing to the charitable footwear brand Toms as an example.
Kilgore is working quickly: In November, the entrepreneur sold her latest venture, the cosmetics, bath and body firm Soap & Glory, to Boots for an undisclosed sum. The brand, known for its accessibly priced products and quirky, retro branding, had annual sales of about 100 million pounds, or $157 million.
Soap & Glory, which Kilgore started in 2006, wasn’t her first beauty success: She started the skin-care company and spa firm Bliss in the Nineties, later selling a majority stake to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 1999 and her remaining interest to Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2004. She launched the footwear firm FitFlop in 2007 and is still deeply involved in that company.
She said she plans to take many of the lessons learned — especially the consumer engagement ones — to her new venture. She said she and her team were able to build a major Facebook following for Soap & Glory — more than 1.5 million followers — on their own, without any help from marketing agencies. She plans to use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — “and whatever bubbles up next” — as she builds the voices and social connectivity of any future brand she’s working on.