NEW YORK — Femme Fatale, a bath and body care line originally launched in two U.S. stores last summer by Australian sisters Kerrie and Megan Hess, is on the verge of expansion in the U.S. and Down Under.

This story first appeared in the January 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For starters, the brand has signed with Sephora and is scheduled to enter 20 of the chain’s locations by March. That would give Femme Fatale 25 doors of distribution in the U.S., including Henri Bendel and Zitomer in New York and Fred Segal Apothia and Kitson in Los Angeles. Additionally, distribution of the brand in Australia is slated to increase from three doors to 22 by next month, including at retailers David Jones and Lisa Ho.

Concurrently, Femme Fatale is launching a collection of cream body washes called Luscious Lather. The four items, each priced at $25 for 250 ml. in the U.S., are slated to hit shelves in late May, bringing the full Femme Fatale assortment to 20 items.

All told, the firm’s pending strategic initiatives could double total retail sales of Femme Fatale, increasing volume to between $3 million and $4 million worldwide by yearend, according to industry sources.

Most important for Femme Fatale, according to co-director Megan Hess, is the “broadened reach” afforded by expansion. Pleased with the initial response to Femme Fatale in its inaugural handful of doors, she remarked that distribution on would be “huge” in terms of the brand’s availability. Still, staying small is key in order to “carefully build the brand.”

Prior to creating their bath line, the Melbourne-based sisters were illustrators by trade, crafting fashion editorial images for magazines in the U.S., Australia, Hong Kong and the U.K. But bath products eventually drew their fancy. And, of course, the two did the cartoonlike graphics on Femme Fatale’s packaging themselves, giving the line a boudoir motif.

Equal importance was given to formulation. “We wanted to use ingredients indigenous to Australia,” said Kerrie, pointing to the white hibiscus flower extract used in the product.

Looking ahead, the sisters’ future plans include launching Femme Fatale in Asia and the U.K. by the end of next year.