Founded in 2014, Facetheory offered a range of active and botanical-based skin care products, including a vitamin C niacinamide dual-action SPF; an oil-free moisturiser for acne-prone skin; and a camomile eye cream. All vegan-certified and packaged sustainably, the products were available on its D2C website and Amazon in a range of countries, with the brand also primed to launch with a multi-brand online retailer in the next six weeks.
And this week, the brand entered another new space entirely – launching into the wellness section of two Galeries Lafayette stores in Paris with a 20-strong ‘hero’ product collection, marking its first ever retail partnership.
Retail moves – France, Germany, Scandinavia and the US
“Galeries Lafayette in the beauty space are a heritage name, so it’s a great launch opportunity for us and too good to miss,” said Jamie Shuker, CEO and founder of Facetheory.
Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, Shuker said this retail move also marked the start of a wider retail expansion. “We’re actively pursuing opportunities in the US as well as other key European markets. So, Germany is certainly interesting to us, as well as Scandinavia.” Ireland and the Netherlands were two other important European markets the brand wanted to expand into, he said.
Since launching in 2014, he said Facetheory had been approached by several retailers, but it was only now the brand felt “ready” to make the shift.
So, how extensively did the company want to transition into the retail world? “In terms of revenue, for the moment, because D2C has achieved such a healthy scale for us and it’s how we started, it’s what the company’s core expertise is. So, D2C is always going to be a big focus for us. But maybe over the next three to five years, we’d see retail taking between a quarter to a third of the company’s revenue,” Shuker said.
The goal within three years, he said, would be to drive existing revenues of €17.6m (£15m) to €47-59m (£40-50m).
Moving beyond the ‘educated’ D2C skin care consumer
Moving into brick and mortar retail, he said, would also help widen the brand’s reach beyond the educated online skin care consumer.
“The D2C customers, I would say, are by and large quite educated about ingredients and their skin; they’re really an informed buyer. And we’ve yet to reach this whole universe of more casual shoppers. We’ve not really reached those consumers who are discovering brands (…) and so retail presents an exciting opportunity to do that.”
Facetheory had always been designed to hold wide appeal, Shuker said, across age, gender and skin-type demographics, so this would continue in its retail push.
“We have all kinds of people buying our products – teenagers with acne, 50-year-old men buying anti-ageing products – so, we try not to limit ourselves in that way because we think it’s more or less a universal human need to look and feel good. I don’t think that’s restricted to one particular persona. We try to create products that are formulated well, and thus far we haven’t been selective about who those people are or how we talk to them.”
An affordable and sustainable competitive edge
Asked how the company planned to remain ahead of the competition in an increasingly saturated skin care market, Shuker said Facetheory would play to its strengths: affordability and sustainability.
“Anyone who is making reasonable, affordable products or brands who are reasonably affordable are well positioned to catch the wider market. The challenges [ahead] will be pressure on consumer wallets, and come winter, certainly for us here in the UK (…) there’s just going to be less money going around for luxuries.”
But just like how many consumers considered a Starbucks coffee an affordable treat, he said the hope was that Facetheory products would fall similarly in line, given they were priced between €10 - €23 (£8.99 - £19.99) “I feel good about us being a more affordable brand rather than a super-premium brand, and hopefully we can continue that growth trajectory.”
On the sustainability side, the brand would continue to innovate with this as a centre-point, working to formulate and manufacture products while emitting as little CO2 as possible and reducing overall environmental impact. The company recently offset all its shipping, for example, and would continue to invest in areas like this, he said. Developing new formats would also be high up on the agenda, he said, following on from the brand’s oil control solid face and body bar launch.
“We’ve always taken the view that we want to be as transparent as we can about sustainability,” he said. But this wouldn’t mean compromising on efficacy, he added.
“…Sustainability is an absolutely vital pillar and we want to be responsive to what the market is demanding in terms of formulas and ingredients but making sure our formulas are effective has been crucial to our success,” Shuker said.