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NEW YORK — Gary Schofield and Leonie Mateer know one thing is true: There is still a market for on-trend and reasonably priced cosmetics and organizers for youthful shoppers.

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

The duo should know — they were the creative force behind the Caboodles brand of cosmetics and organizers that helped usher in the era of teen cosmetics.

Now, with teen brands on the downslide, Schofield and Mateer are looking for the next market niche. Together they are launching Tru, a line of cosmetics and organizers aimed at women in their twenties who want trendy styles.

“Too many of the brands marketed to teens were not really appealing to [older] teens and young women. They are too young,” explained Schofield, the former president of Caboodles cosmetics who severed that relationship last June.

The same was true for the organizer business, according to Mateer, who almost singlehandedly pioneered the category in the 1990s with Plano Molding and later Sassaby. “For 17 years the cosmetics organizer category has been created for teens. The customers who used them in the Nineties are now sophisticated adults looking for products designed for them.” Mateer has entered into a settlement agreement with Plano and Caboodles.

The new company is called Smartbrands Inc. and the team is looking for market niches in need of innovation. “There are women upward of 25 years old to 30 who want to think they are a young age mentally,” said Schofield. Retailers liken it to the positioning Avon is taking with Mark.

Schofield thinks Tru will pick up where teen brands left off. Many retailers created large teen departments with a bevy of brands only to find that teens quickly became disenchanted with the offering. “This will help retailers who may feel they’ve lost the teen customer,” Schofield added.

The 177-stockkeeping-unit cosmetics collection consists of stylish products that Schofield became associated with during his years at Caboodles. The packaging is very different from existing items on the market, emphasizing soft colors and spiral patterns. Prices range from $2.99 to $5.99, making Tru affordable for women on a budget.

Although Schofield hopes to see Tru merchandised on a peg wall, he said there are special fixtures for end-of-aisle displays, as well as side displays that can be attached to fixtures. Schofield said major mass merchants will start selling Tru in May.

Industry sources estimate Tru cosmetics could achieve sales of $10 million within a full year of distribution.

In tandem with the color cosmetics launch is the introduction of organizers and bags. Mateer thinks there is a big opportunity in travel cases as well as products designed to coordinate with home interiors. “We think Tru brings rejuvenation to a category in need of change,” she said.

The cosmetics organizer category once ballooned past the $150 million point, but has sunk in recent years to under $20 million, according to data from Information Resources Inc.

Borrowing from ready-to-wear styles, Mateer has added more fabrics, different shapes and new concepts to the organizer category. She has styles inspired by “Sex and the City,” such as a bag decorated with shoes. There are also new pressure-formed funky cases adorned with aluminum and plastic trim. In tune with young women on quests to decorate their homes, Tru offers clear plastic organizer trays and colorful bath caddies.

Prices range from a small cube at $12.99 to $24.99 for a molded organizer case. There are also felt and suede organizers priced up to $29.99.

Mateer hopes the cases will be merchandised with other cosmetics bags and, when possible, cross-merchandised with Tru cosmetics products.

Smartbrands is also introducing a budget brand for dollar stores and chains that want to extend value offerings called Ten, as well as products for moms and babies called Oh Baby. “We continue to look for areas in need of innovation,” concluded Schofield.