Skip to main content

Sol de Janeiro: The Brand That Started With the Derriere Expands to All Body Parts

A new cream from Sol de Janeiro called Coco Cabana is off to a brisk start.

Heela Yang, cofounder of Brazilian-inspired Sol de Janeiro, plans to continue breaking the beauty marketing rules.

“We want to do things that are different. What’s the point of doing the same old thing? And why does the world need another beauty brand?” said Yang, who founded the brand after living in Brazil.

She was told not to use the words “bum bum” in her launch of a cream targeting the derriere. “But it is the most adored body part in Brazil,” she said. Naysayers also discouraged her from her bright yellow packaging suggesting it would be dubbed as a seasonal sun-care line.

Her gut instincts paid off. Bum Bum cream is the bestseller for the 20-month-old company. A holiday limited-edition mega-size Bum Bum cream called “Biggie Biggie” retailing for $75 for a 500-ml. jar sold out of Sephora before the retailer could present it for holiday. It garnered an 800-plus waitlist on its own web site. 

Related Galleries

Sol de Janeiro has expanded to 11 items including shower gel, lip cream and new Glow Oils. The skin-softening glitter oils sold out six hours after pre-sale last May.

Sol de Janeiro is now preparing for a blockbuster 2019 with the launch of a new umbrella — Coco Cabana. The company heard a call for an intense moisturizing range. Coconut oil cream came to mind, but Yang didn’t want to do the same “that you could buy a tub of for $4 at Whole Foods.” Working with its chemists, the brand used fermented sugar to create CocoSugar Blend harnessing sugar as a humectant.

The initial item, Coco Cabana Cream, launched on Sol de Janeiro’s site and will be available on beginning today. Sephora will add it in stores after Christmas. “We’ve sold three times more than Bum Bum so far in our first week of launch,” Yang said. A fragrance mist will launch in January.

A rich pipeline next year will extend the nameplate into several new categories beyond body​ ​care as well as other “consumer” concepts, Yang said. “What continues to be of the utmost importance is the mission of the brand — that beauty is an attitude, and that the body language is the only universal language and that we start with the belief that you’ve got it. We all have what it takes. Now flaunt it. This mission seems to resonate with women and men across the globe.”

Sol de Janeiro is exclusive with Sephora in North America where it is sold online and in all stores. On the international front, there is big growth in U.K. luxury doors including Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Liberty. The brand is also sold throughout Europe at Sephora, as well as Douglas in Germany, Austria Netherlands and a few other markets. Past August, the brand rolled out to Australia launching in all Mecca doors. According to Yang, the products sold out within two weeks of the debut.

The company is also focusing on e-commerce where its sales increased 12 times from last year, Yang said. “The obsessive and incredibly loyal clientele has become our biggest ambassadors and our digital efforts are paying off immensely.”