Vennette Ho, Managing Director & Global Head of Beauty & Personal Care, Financo Raymond James
Authenticity can drive brand success — and OSEA is loaded with it.
“OSEA Malibu is one of the hottest brands in skin care today, but unlike a lot of the high-growth brands that seem to come from nowhere, it’s a deeply authentic brand that has been around for nearly three decades,” said Vennette Ho, Managing Director & Global Head of Beauty & Personal Care, Financo Raymond James. “OSEA stands for ocean, sun, earth, and atmosphere and was one of the OG clean skin care brands channeling the power of natural ingredients from the sea for proven results. The brand’s mission is true, and its essence carries through everything it does from a sustainability to a wellness perspective.”
OSEA’s authenticity shines through many facets. It was the first company to sign the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. And when it first launched in the Nineties, it chose glass packaging, prioritized naturally-derived ingredients, and leaned towards sustainable packaging materials. In 2020, OSEA took it a step further by becoming a Climate Neutral Certified and Ocean Positive Verified brand. “It is a brand that truly stands for something and also emphasizes our connection between nature and self,” Vennette said.
Known for clean, vegan skin care powered by the sea, OSEA sources its ingredients from a wide range of natural resources, including a sustainable seaweed farm in southern Patagonia. Mom and daughter duo Jenefer Palmer and Melissa Palmer founded OSEA. “Jenefer is trained in the healing arts, including shiatsu, polarity therapy, and biodynamic craniosacral therapy, and her philosophy powers the product development team’s innovation pipeline. The company truly began to accelerate when Melissa became CEO and focused on broadening the brand’s message digitally and driving business beyond the spa channel to DTC and retail,” Vennette said.
Vennette believes part of OSEA’s success is because it genuinely owns the intersection between nature, science, wellness, and the environment. “For example, it is one of the only brands that has started to talk about the power of the vagus nerve — a part of the body that helps determine our psychological and emotional states and has actually created products around this powerful part of the body to activate relaxation,” she said.
The brand’s social presence is strong and growing, with a base of almost 350K followers on Instagram, as well as heavy organic engagement on TikTok. The brand is sold primarily on its own website, through Ulta Beauty stores, and various spa partners across the United States. Its own e-commerce is a sizeable portion of the sales, too.
“The brand does not disclose sales, but it is quickly growing, and we believe it is one of the fastest growing premium skin care brands of scale,” said Vennette, who added their biggest opportunity for 2023 is to continue to grow brand awareness and expand visibility on shelves. “Brand loyalty for OSEA is incredibly strong — and continuing to get the word out is a huge driver for the company.”
Kelly McPhilliamy, Managing Director, Harris Williams Consumer Group
Unsurprisingly, being popular with Gen Z is a significant factor in indie beauty success.
“The InnBeauty brand features high performance, clean skin care products at affordable prices and is very popular with Gen Z consumers,” said Kelly McPhilliamy, a Managing Director in the Harris Williams Consumer Group who leads the firm’s efforts in health and beauty. “It offers serious skin care presented in a fun, approachable way.”
The company was founded by beauty industry veterans Alisa Metzger and Jen Shane, who met while working at the beauty brand Tula. The duo identified a need for more affordable, clean, clinical skin care targeting Gen Z.
“InnBeauty delivers a strong value proposition for younger, more price-sensitive consumers through its affordably-priced yet highly efficacious skin care,” Kelly said. “It also makes serious skin care more approachable through its colorful packaging and high-impact labeling.”
Kelly said InnBeauty’s innovation is delivering products with superior efficacy using key active ingredients. It owns the innovation process by doing extensive research, generating unique ideas, developing custom formulas, and bringing creativity to every product.
“InnBeauty understands what younger consumers want in skin care yet need in affordability. It delivers a superior experience that drives loyalty, provides ingredient transparency and skin care education, and shares its values through its commitment to sustainability,” she said. “All of that contributes to its high emotional quotient.”
For 2022, the brand is on track to grow 160 percent, with projections for approximately $15 million in retail sales, Kelly said. InnBeauty has a strong and growing online community of consumers and influencers across multiple social platforms, including 76.5K followers on Instagram and 34.7K on TikTok.
“Early on, InnBeauty’s founders recognized the value of a focused omni-channel approach to develop its online community and build brand awareness through key retailers,” Kelly said. “It initially launched direct-to-consumer, expanded to Credo Beauty in 2020, and ultimately gained Sephora, including Sephora at Kohl’s, in 2021. InnBeauty products are now available in all Sephora stores, as well as Sephora online.”
InnBeauty’s founders just announced a Series B investment led by Alliance Consumer Group with participation from existing investors Strand Equity and Beechwood Capital. The company plans to use the funds to grow the brand and support its exposure in Sephora.
Rich Gersten, Co-Founder and Partner, True Beauty Ventures
There have been many products that claim to heal damaged hair, but none like K18.
“K18 has a patented IP moat that cannot be copied — where previous generations of hair repair products only patched damage, K18 offers true hair renewal from within,” said Rich Gersten, co-founder and partner, True Beauty Ventures. “K18 is the first biotech company to create a novel molecule with a new application, reversing chemical damage in hair in minutes by going deeper inside the hair fiber than ever before possible and repairing hair at a molecular level.”
K18 spent 10 years studying the human DNA genome, specifically the instructions for coding keratin, which makes up 95 percent of hair, skin, and nails. It was in the human genome that the inspiration for the molecule that is the basis of its lead product, the K18Peptide was found. “Taking inspiration from nature, K18 engineered a molecule that repairs hair’s broken polypeptide chains and cleaved disulfide bonds to produce more resilient hair that looks and feels like new,” Rich said.
Traditional bond repair products only work to patch the damage, acting like hard glue, but eventually wash away with water, so it’s not a lasting solution, and it makes the hair more reliant on product to keep up the appearance of healthy hair. “It is important to understand that hair that looks good does not necessarily translate into healthy hair—that comes from the core structure that can only be impacted on a molecular level,” Rich said. “The path to true hair renewal is about getting inside the hair and healing it from the inside out, applying biotechnology. Through advanced biotechnological scanning and by applying the theory of biomimetics to hair, the K18Peptide was born. Biomimetics is the practice of learning from and mimicking nature.”
Suveen Sahib, one of the co-founders, has a background that spans consumer products, technology, and now biotech. “His unique combination of experiences allows him to challenge the industry status quo. In addition, because of his lack of traditional beauty experience, he recruited an executive team with incredible industry experience and quickly became the leader of a high-performance team. He has been a great partner to us and a good listener, always trying to improve.”
Another game-changer for K18 is that its hair mask works in just four minutes and is a leave-in product. The consumer experience is simple and consistent and follows the less-is-more philosophy, according to Rich.
He added that the brand is beloved by stylists, colorists, and consumers. “For the professional trade, they genuinely believe K18 is giving them a healthy hair canvas to craft their magic more effortlessly. In addition, K18 is transforming the way they do business: fewer investments in inventories and warehousing space that otherwise involved hundreds of SKUs for a brand has made it simpler and more profitable for them to do their business. For many, K18 is already a top 10 product in their portfolio within 20 months.”
K18 has incredible momentum on social channels. “It is a top-five hair brand in earned media value despite it being such a young brand,” Rich said. “Most of the top brands are legacy players, such as Olaplex and Redken. It is also a top hair brand on TikTok with over 12B views on TikTok, #k18results, and #k18hairflip. K18 is also the fastest growing hair brand on TikTok and Instagram.”
Sales have more than doubled in the past year and strong growth is expected in 2023 due to increased distribution with professionals and as the brand increases market share globally. The brand is available via professional salon distribution, as well as Sephora and DTC in North America.
“The brand’s recently announced partnership with SalonCentric will benefit 2023 growth,” he said. “The brand has also scaled dramatically in 2022 with very few SKUs. Innovation will always be at the center of the brand’s activities during 2023 and beyond. Product expansion will focus on disruptive, ownable innovation that owns hair health.”
Noah Rosenblatt, CEO, SpaceNK
Biotech will be significant for 2023, and Virtue’s expansion is proof the category is exploding.
“Virtue has next-level growth for any of the retailers they are working with,” said Noah Rosenblatt, CEO of SpaceNK. “The biotech-led company has a patented protein which has led them into a unique place of repairing damaged hair. It’s at the core of their business, and it is what’s setting them apart.”
Virtue’s star ingredient is called the Alpha Keratin 60ku. It was initially intended as regenerative medicine to help severely wounded military soldiers, but researchers ultimately discovered it could also repair damaged hair. This protein is what makes up hair, skin, and nails, and the body recognizes Alpha Keratin 60ku as its own, so it’s pulled to where it is needed to repair hair strands, filling in cracks of damage. “It’s not your average shampoo and conditioner—there are some long-term benefits,” Noah said.
Virtue was founded by the researcher who discovered the all-star keratin protein, as well as Melisse Shaban, a beauty industry veteran. Additionally, actress Jennifer Garner is an investor who was introduced to the brand by her stylist, Adir Abergel. “Jennifer uses her voice and social platform to build the brand and bring awareness to the power of the ingredients,” Noah said. “They’ve pulled this team of people together to build it much bigger.”
The Virtue team has also developed a bio-engineering camp in North Carolina that includes a research and development facility. “[Their key ingredients] can be much further-reaching across categories, so it won’t only have to be limited to hair care,” he said.
Virtue has used its community to build a social media presence. “User-generated content and things of that sort are what’s driving their social,” Noah said. “They have 159K followers on Instagram, which is not huge, but when you’re looking at brands that are trying to build organically versus some other DTC or influencer brands, it is a slow and steady game versus making it big fast and not necessarily having a lot of the follow-up capabilities.”
SpaceNK launched Virtue in about a dozen stores with just one line; now, the retailer carries its full range. Noah reports they’ve seen exponential growth with the brand.
“I think their biggest area of opportunity is building the uniqueness around the DNA of biotech and how that DNA influences the customer,” Noah said. “They’ve seen major improvements to hair growth and hair repair, proving this through clinicals, and they have a major opportunity to continue to build their customer base that way.”
Oliver Garfield, CEO, Cos Bar
It was only in the past five years that eyebrows became a major category in beauty. Kimiko is the latest brow brand to rise to the top, which is why Oliver Garfield, CEO, Cos Bar, is introducing it to stores this month. “What the founder has done is perfect this product from not just the formulation perspective, but the packaging perspective,” he said. “It does everything you would want a brow product to do.”
Oliver notes that Kimiko’s packaging is especially crucial for brow products since it impacts how it’s applied, from the pencil to the spoolie. “She’s nailed the packaging; the way you can dispense more product, and you still get a really defined line.”
Kimiko’s founder, Danielle Kimiko Vincent, is a makeup artist specializing in brows and has brought her Japanese heritage to the brand. “She has incorporated a lot of the Japanese ethos — that kind of perfection and precision comes to mind. I think that that is somewhat of a differentiator,” Oliver said. “The founder has a good story. She has been in the industry for a while, and she’s hyper-focused on this hero product. I think people are looking for simplicity and strength from a particular brand. This is easy to explain to a customer and, even better, easier to show and offer that the efficacy will be there. From a merchant perspective, the first hurdle is the efficacy of the product.”
Bringing on Kimiko is about taking ownership of the brow category, according to Oliver. “Our customers come to us to find not only the legacy brands but brands that are very proven,” he said. “They could be out for a decade plus, but also, we’re constantly looking for the latest and greatest or hard-to-find things. Kimiko fits that because it’s such a breakthrough, so we’d love to be an early adapter to this up-and-coming brand.”
Stay tuned for more brand predictions later this week!