As a veteran of Estée Lauder, Maureen Case, formerly the president of Bobbi Brown, is making a big move. Effective July 1, the brand builder will become president to the rapidly growing beauty content and commerce start-up, Violet Grey. Case isn’t only jumping positions. She’s headed to Los Angeles, a change most storied New Yorker’s would never dream of.
“My entire background at Estée Lauder was on the entrepreneurial side from the beginning,” Case said. “My greatest joy was building Bobbi Brown, La Mer and Jo Malone from very small jewels into the great brands that they are today. But I’m fascinated by a multichannel offering to the consumer, and I was so impressed with the curation and editorial strength of Violet Grey.”
Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey, founder and chief executive officer of Violet Grey, was on the hunt for a seasoned beauty executive with an entrepreneurial spirit to help grow the company’s international business and retail footprint.
“You could argue that Jo Malone and Bobbi Brown were essentially start ups when [Estée Lauder] acquired these companies,” noted Huysentruyt Grey. “[Case] has had exposure to building brands from a very early stage.”
Case has helped make Bobbi Brown the number-five makeup brand in the world, where before it was primarily U.S. driven. She started at Jo Malone in 2006 and grew the brand exponentially. As for La Mer, which she spearheaded in 2006, Case doubled the business until she left in 2010.
“I truly believe that the omnichannel and curation will be key to [Violet Grey’s] growth opportunities,” declared Case. “We really need to engage with that consumer and make sure that we don’t just satisfy her needs, but that we exceed her expectations.”
Meanwhile, Grey has been exceptionally strategic in building her team. Most of them have made the move to Los Angeles from New York and have come from successful brands that have broken through and have made a distinct name for themselves.
From the beginning, Grey cofounded the company with Tiffany Bensley, who was involved in the early stages of The Row, and Ariella Feldman, a Harvard-trained attorney with an extensive background in e-commerce having been an early team member at One Kings Lane and ShoeDazzle.
“As founders of Violet Grey, we are inherently the innovator as well as the consumer,” Bensley said. “Being very busy and discerning in our daily lives, we all crave ease and trust in the way we consume both product and information and are therefore building Violet Grey as a multifaceted, omnichannel company that is, in a sense, solving our own problem — as well as that of the modern, luxury consumer.”
One the newest hires includes Ali Khan, vice president of technology, who was the director of technology operations at Rent the Runway and one of the first hires at Warby Parker, serving initially as the architect of their e-commerce platform and then as director of technology operations.
“Content has become a social behavior,” Khan said. “It is no longer just a consumer interacting with a publisher, but with fellow consumers. We want to encourage sharing of content and give people articles they didn’t even realize they wanted to read. While I cannot go into detail, we are looking at a variety of technologies so that people can literally swipe from one article to the next or view high res images without dramatic lag times that many currently experience on mobile platforms.”
Huysentruyt Grey has a vision to further grow her editorially rich online shopping destination and she has the tenacity to make it happen.
“We’re still very much focused on delivering our vision and our promise,” said Huysentruyt Grey, who is ideating video content. “In terms of content and thinking about the future it’s really about building out that team. Your content is as good as the contributors and storytellers you can attract.”