L Catterton’s latest bet is on probiotics for your skin.
The firm led a Series A venture capital round for probiotic skin-care business Tula. For the brand, the capital should allow it to ramp up its growth. The two-year-old beauty business makes skin-care products infused with probiotic technology aimed to balance the skin. The concept is similar to ingesting probiotics for gut health — Tula’s probiotic technology aims to use “good bacteria” to combat aging and protect the skin from environment stressors.
Industry sources estimated the round was worth $8 million.
The business was founded in 2014 by Dr. Roshini Raj, a gastroenterologist and internist; Ken Landis, a Bobbi Brown Cosmetics cofounder, and Dan Reich, a tech entrepreneur. Right now, the brand’s products are sold direct-to-consumer from their web site, through QVC and through Space NK, where Tula launched in January. The business is said to have grown more than 400 percent in 2016. At QVC alone, Tula generated a 78 percent increase in distinct customers, according to Rachel Ungaro, vice president of buying for apparel, accessories beauty and jewelry.
The plan going forward is to focus on growing in existing channels, especially digitally, according to Tula chief executive officer Julia Straus. “We are really focused on building brand awareness and marketing, and putting infrastructure in place,” she said. “The big push for us is about telling this brand’s story in a much bigger way.”
Part of that includes more video content, which is meant to help Tula share its story with consumers. The idea is that Tula fits into an overall healthy lifestyle, Straus said. “If we can allow the sites to educate and be a place a woman can come for a broader story, it makes the experience that much richer,” Straus said.
L Catterton has a history of doing beauty deals, such as its recent investment in coconut oil brand Kopari, but the firm also invests in food and beverage. “They’re passionate about the space, and frankly, they’re passionate about probiotics,” Straus said of L Catterton’s directors. “When we sat down with them and started talking about the microbiome…they were nerding out with us.”
The digital side of Tula also piqued L Catterton’s interest, according to managing partner of the firm’s growth fund Jon Owsley. “Tula and other brands like Tula that are digitally native and have come up in that manner, they can get to be very big brands, they can scale rapidly,” he said.
“You talk to our founders and this is a billion-dollar brand,” Straus said. “I am certainly aware of how exciting this environment is right now, and I think if you have a very clear point of difference and a great set of partners, whether retailers or financial backers, the trajectory is pretty incredible.”
Owsley noted the brand would continue to develop new products, work on ways to engage consumers, increase its reach and grow its presence in existing channels through heightened brand awareness. While Straus declined to provide Tula’s precise category growth plan, she noted that expansion beyond skin care was definitely part of the larger vision.
“When you look at this from an inside-out approach and a lifestyle brand, we see there are a lot of different places [we could expand]…whether it’s body or supplements, both are very relevant to this story,” Straus said.