Sophia Hutchins is entering the clean beauty business.
The 23-year-old executive director of the Caitlyn Jenner Foundation spoke about her new SPF business, Luma Beauty, at an intimate dinner at the Upper East Side home of Susan Rockefeller on Wednesday evening.
Other attendees of boutique investment bank Ohana & Co.’s ninth annual “Success for Progress” event included designer Vera Wang, Parsons School of Design dean Joel Towers, beauty entrepreneur Menaye Donkor and documentary-maker Mark Bozek, whose film — “The Times of Bill Cunningham” — is due for release in July.
Notably absent was David Rockefeller Jr., the businessman, philanthropist and great-grandson of the U.S.’s first billionaire. His wife said he was still in Bermuda on a sailing trip she had cut short to host the dinner.
Hutchins told the eclectic mix of guests about her forthcoming SPF brand, which is still in the early development stages. While she did not share any further details on the financials, her partner, Caitlyn Jenner, is believed to be involved in the business.
“We closed our first round of fund-raising just over two months ago so we’re very new,” said Hutchins, adding that her products would target young, environmentally conscious consumers with its clean formula and sustainable packaging.
“The reason we went out to venture capital to fund-raise was because, as we keep talking about, developing these formulas that are eco-friendly, packaging that’s eco-friendly and responsibly sourced, takes a lot of time. It does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of money.”
Her new business fit in with the sustainability theme of the dinner, which celebrated “entrepreneurs dedicated to human wellness and environment improvement.”
Among the other guests invited to speak about their work in sustainability was Amy Ziff, founder and executive director of Made Safe, a nonprofit that provides certification for nontoxic products, from personal-care to household products and beyond.
“My motto is that the things that we use on a daily basis should not lead to disease,” she said, noting she has gone from working with 12 companies to 100 in the space of just three years. “We’ve innovated our way into this problem and we can innovate our way out of this problem.”
While Ziff wouldn’t name names, she confirmed that she’s working with two major worldwide brands on developing non-toxic products: “We’ve shown people this is possible and now they’re so many people coming to join the bandwagon.”
Towers used his turn in the spotlight to tell guests how important sustainability is in all of Parsons’ courses, from fashion to product design to architecture to technology and design.
“They all begin the curriculum now with the fundamental understanding of sustainability and systems because what we say to them is that if they want their work to be relevant in the future it must take these criteria into account,” he said. “At first it’s a bit frightening because crisis is frightening, but it becomes a creative force that drives them to solutions that we couldn’t have possibly imagined.”
Documentary filmmaker and environmentalist Rockefeller has a seat on the advisory board of Ohana, which organized the dinner in partnership with Musings, Rockefeller’s online platform, which provides information on global issues and highlights pioneering brands in the areas of health, and environmental and social consciousness.
Ohana, whose offices are Paris, New York and Los Angeles, has worked on a number of fashion and beauty deals, including advising Onward on its purchase of Charlotte Olympia; Hourglass on its sale to Unilever plc, and The RealReal on its equity financing.