Can a brand that was sold twice, lost its creator and ran a bit off track return to what made it so appealing in the first place? It can if Liz Garrett has something to say about it.

At a press launch in January, where philosophy introduced beauty editors to its team—now under the Coty umbrella—philosophy’s founder, Cristina Carlino, was referred to more than several times. Cristina, who founded the brand in 1996, separated from it in 2009, two years after its sale to The Carlyle Group. Her absence since Coty acquired the brand in November 2010 was noticeable.

Several things had run off track, Liz said, such as the random skincare product that “didn’t have the right name, didn’t have the right feel, didn’t have the right story.” And, philosophy has gone deep into color cosmetics, a category that missed the point of philosophy’s beauty-made-simple mantra.

So it was Cristina who Liz turned to when tapped as President of philosophy 11 months ago to get to the heart of the brand—and to ultimately get its soul back.

“When [Coty] bought the brand, Cristina hadn’t been involved for a couple of years. What was essential for me was to understand its core DNA,” Liz said.

Quickly, skin care that didn’t mesh, was discontinued. All of color cosmetics—except for what is sold on QVC—have now been cut. And, most recently, Liz and Cristina signed off on a new “grace” fragrance for launch this September, one that stays true to Cristina’s original fragrance concept. It will replace a more recent “grace” sku that Liz said went off course. 

“The thing about grace was, when Cristina created it, it was the sort of anti-fragrance for people who didn’t like wearing fragrance.”

In addition to returning philosophy to its story-themed, heart string-plucking character, Liz has goals for growth both inside and outside the brand’s comfort zone of the U.S.

“The U.S. has enormous potential because we still have relatively low awareness here; it has a mid-30s [percentage awareness.] Within three years we’d want to be in the mid-50s,” said Liz, who prior to joining philosophy served as the General Manager at Coty Inc.’s U.K. and Benelux subsidiaries, out of London.

What’s going to drive the growth? For starters, a serious advertising and sales campaign is under way: philosophy is testing a 28-minute infomercial in May. If it’s a success, Liz will roll it out in the fall. While the infomercial stands to be a new point of distribution, existing retail partners will stay the same: philosophy is sold on QVC and its own branded website, and in Sephora, Ulta, select Macy’s and Nordstrom. Also remaining the same is philosophy’s percentage of sales in the categories it plays: 55% in skincare, 30% in fragrance and 15% in bath and body.

Outside of the U.S., the main focus for the brand is Australasia. This month philosophy enters Australia and Singapore. In the last half of the year the brand will go into Korea and Japan. In 2013, it will take on China.

While Asia offers philosophy a built-in sales team—Coty’s existing international team will manage philosophy’s business and offer access to retailers—philosophy will serve as Coty’s entry into prestige skin care. Several challenges await, including how the brand’s position of being a multi-tasking line will meet the needs of the Asian consumer, who famously likes multiple steps in her skincare regime.

As a solution, philosophy is developing products specifically for Asia, including several SPF items, as well as a brightening line, which will incorporate a new global skincare franchise.

Other tweaks? Fragrances will need to be skewed for Asian sensibilities—several of philosophy’s strong bath gel and “food recipe” scents don’t resonate.

The challenges China presents aren’t as easily addressed, as those revolve around product registration.

“That’s why it’s going to take us [until next year] to enter the market. We’re pretty confident that most of our products are compliant for Chinese registration, but it’s just a lengthy process.”

And surprisingly, philosophy’s emotional connection, which comes through via it’s text-heavy packaging, translates well in Asia, Liz said, despite the language barrier.

“They like the look of English, they don’t necessarily want it translated. They want the functional aspects of the product translated, like how to use it, but it adds to the prestige and the aura of the brand to have the words remain in English.”

Some things, it seems, don’t need to be changed at all.