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VC Investors Bet on Grooming Start-ups

Maapilim, a men's wellness and grooming line, and Sphynx, a women's on-the-go shaving business, have both raised early-stage capital.

Grooming is all the rage.

Two grooming start-ups — one for women, called Sphynx, and one for me, called Maapilim — have raised early-stage funding. The capital influx comes on the heels of Harry’s launch of a women’s shaving brand called Flamingo, which was funded as part of the brand’s deal with ACG Consumer Partners and other investors to back and build more brands. It also follow’s several fund-raises from Billie, a women’s shaving and personal-care business.

Hoping to capitalize on the growing men’s care market, Maapilim has raised a $4 million Series A round, led by Viola Ventures, Kaedan Capital and the joint venture of Keshet International and Dick Clark Productions. Avishai Avrahami, cofounder and chief executive officer of web site-creation platform Wix, has also invested.

VC Investors Bet on Grooming Startups
Maapilim’s Safety Razor, $52, is part of a lineup that aims to provide men with more luxurious wellness and grooming products.

Maapilim, headquartered in Tel Aviv and founded by husbands Jonathan and Doron Keren, focuses on natural, high-end grooming products for men sourced from the Mediterranean coasts. The lineup includes shower, grooming, hair and skin products, priced between $15 and $52.

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The concept was originally started so the Keren’s could fund their art aspirations. The Wix veterans set up a web site to sell beard oil to fund an art show called “Flowers are Manly,” which ended up drawing attention from more than 200 art blogs. The show was meant to show the range of masculinity, Jonathan Keren said — and that concept was infused through Maapilim’s brand ethos.

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“It started out by saying, ‘Yeah, we’re guys, but we don’t always have to feel like we’re in a battlefield when we’re in the shower,'” Keren said.

The range is meant not only to deviate from hyper-masculine branded products, but also from those that are price-oriented or solution focused, Keren said.

“For men, there weren’t a lot of brands that really gave them that output of wellness and taking better care of themselves — most brands are very practical,” Keren said.

The products include natural oils, crude gold jojoba oil, and Dead Sea mud, but don’t eschew synthetics in the name of being natural. Products do not include SLS or parabens. Customers are generally 25- to 40-year-old men who Keren refers to as “cool cousins.”

“It’s the early adopters — it’s the guy you ask what hotel to stay in, and what restaurant to go to,” he said.

So far, most of the brand’s shoppers are coming from Instagram, where Maapilim uses paid social to boost posts, and works organically with influencers.

While most of Maapilim’s focus has been on its direct channel, the brand also sells on Amazon, and recently launched with Neiman Marcus, where it sells in store and online; Goop, and has plans to launch with Ipsy in April. Sales have been doubling each month, Keren said. Industry sources projected the brand could do between $3.5 million and $5 million in sales for 2019.

“Because of this social shift that’s happening with men in general, we believe there’s room for a brand that just talks about wellness for guys,” Keren said.

Over in the women’s grooming landscape, Sphynx, which makes an on-the-go shaving tool for women, has raised a $2 million seed round.

VC Investors Bet on Grooming Startups
Sphynx’s razor allows for spritzing, moisturizing and shaving — all in one tool.

Sphynx now counts Ludlow Ventures, Wavemaker Partners, Trail Mix Ventures and others, among its investors.

Sphynx is best known for its All-in-One Portable Razor, which is sold at Target, Ulta Beauty, Free People, Anthropologie, and its own branded web site. The product allows users to spray, moisturize and then shave, and is meant for last-minute touch-ups. Industry sources estimate the business has done about $2.5 million in retail sales.

The business started when founder and ceo Leila Kashani kept missing spots when she would shave. One time, she forgot to shave a whole armpit — and a buyer at Target that she was presenting to as part of a previous job in the toy industry took notice.

“I was constantly realizing, ‘Oh, there’s another patch,'” Kashani said. She came home from the Target meeting and decided she needed to turn her idea for an out-of-the-shower razor into reality.

“Today’s generation of women don’t have time to keep up with beauty [the way women used to] — it’s really about smart, fast beauty,” Kashani said.

The All-in-One Portable Razor, $15, works by twisting a dial in the middle, which will reveal either a spray bottle for a refillable water container, stick moisturizer for shaving, or the razor itself. The product comes in four colors, with a fifth — gold — launching exclusively on the Sphynx site for the holiday season.

While to date, Sphynx has been focused on shaving, the new capital should allow the business to continue its product development journey, which will span all kinds of problem-solving products, Kashani said.

“[The company] is focused around simplifying our lives and solving problem — some grooming, some beauty, some personal care,” Kashani said. “How we’re thinking about product launches is, ‘Do I have ‘Oh s–t’ moments with these products?’ And then solving that problem.”