Three months after being named co-CEO of Pattern Beauty, Christiane Pendarvis is on a Zoom call with (what else?) impeccably bouncy curls and a relaxed, confident smile on her face. Her eyes light up when asked about what’s on her vision board for one of the most buzzed-about brands in hair care. “There’s just a wealth of riches in terms of opportunity behind the business,” she said. “When I go through the list of all the opportunities that we have, it’s like, Okay, how do you prioritize? What do you decide to go after? Which is a really fortunate position to be in.”
Fortunate indeed, as consumers with curly, coily, and tight-textured hair have historically been underserved in the hair care aisle —and Pattern Beauty is already experiencing steady growth through offerings that speak to this community. Founded by actress and activist Tracee Ellis-Ross, the Black-centered hair care and styling range began with 19 SKUS on patternbeauty.com and at Ulta Beauty. Since its 2019 launch, the brand has expanded with more than 50 SKUs in 10 retailers globally (including Sephora US and Canada, and Boots in the UK).
Ellis Ross, her co-CEO, brings vision to the brand, while Pendarvis’s task is to help more consumers see that vision. If Pendarvis’s past performance is any indication, Pattern Beauty is poised for intense growth. During her three and a half years as Co-President of Fenty X Savage, the intimate apparel brand founded by Rihanna, the brand saw a sixfold increase in revenue. “The things that I bring to the table are growing and scaling a brand,” she said. “And scaling it in a very short period of time. In that scenario, you’re recreating the company every 12 to 18 months: the size of the company, the operations, how you’re keeping people informed and integrated and collaborative.”
For Pendarvis, drawing more people into the Pattern Beauty fold is a top growth priority. “There’s so many consumers who don’t even know about our brand, which is shocking,” she said. “When I think about just driving awareness around the brand within our existing target market, there’s tremendous opportunity there to get them into the products that already exist within our portfolio. Growth isn’t necessarily even about new product introductions—and, of course, we do have new products coming out—but really, about driving awareness for the brand.”
Another initiative is providing consumers with more opportunities to shop. Although Pattern Beauty is sold overseas, it’s currently a “very small” percentage of the business, Pendarvis said. And while she’s planning to build the international business, she sees more immediate growth opportunities on this side of the pond. “We’ve got great retail partners right now,” said Pendarvis. “There continues to be further opportunity for us to drive more penetration within our existing retail partners.” She’s aiming to drive more customers to Pattern’s direct-to-consumer site, and the brand is partnering with Amazon (“a great growth vehicle for us”) as well. “We’re just scratching the surface,” she said.
On that note, could Pattern expand to other categories within — or even outside of — beauty? “I think we’re constantly asking ourselves, where is the consumer going to give us permission to expand? Those are some of the strategic discussions that we’re having right now.… I think nothing is out of the realm of possibility for this brand.” Any sort of expansion, she said, needs to address the brand’s target consumer in an authentic way while aligning with Ellis Ross’s ethos and her vision.
Pendarvis speaks warmly of Ellis Ross, saying that the two play off of their “very complementary” skill sets and experiences. “This is her company, her vision, her blood, sweat and tears,” Pendarvis said. “She has a tremendous amount of clarity around brand, positioning, our ethos, and standards for product and what they need to deliver.”
The unconventional cooperative leadership model appeals to Pendarvis, she said, in part because it’s often lonely at the top. “There’s a great deal of burden that you shoulder and you oftentimes don’t have someone that’s a confidant within the enterprise,” she said. “I find the co-leadership model incredibly powerful in the way that you do have a comrade, a confidant, a support system, someone that you can also conversely support.” Another benefit, she said, is the spark that happens during the meeting of the minds: “If you have complementary experiences and skill sets, then the sum of the two individuals is greater than what you would get otherwise.”
Despite its ambitious growth goals and international distribution, Pattern Beauty is, in many ways, still in startup mode. Case in point: she’s the rare co-CEO who posts job listings on her personal LinkedIn. “We’re still small enough now that I can play a more active role in that as an example for the other managers and leaders within the company,” she explained, “so that we’re operationalizing what our approach is to make sure that we’re getting the right talent for this brand.” She calls the internal culture of Pattern Beauty “special,” noting the non-hierarchical way that people are encouraged to contribute to discussions and dialogue. “One of the things I want to make sure we do is maintain that,” she said, “because I’ve seen particularly diverse voices feel overshadowed and afraid of contributing great ideas [in other environments]. We don’t have that at Pattern, and it’s really important for us to maintain that culture.”
That focus on workplace culture reflects Pendarvis’s own professional journey to the C-suite, as well as her drive to open more doors for Black women and other women of color. Outside of her work with Pattern Beauty, she serves as the board chair of Women of Color Retail Alliance, a networking and advocacy organization for women of color in retail and adjacent industries. “I know different decisions get made when there are people with diverse experiences with seats at the table,” she said. “Now that I do have the seat at the table and I have this platform and I’ve been in this industry for so long, I owe it to women who look like me to create an environment that’s more supportive, conducive, and ready to see more women of color lead.” And with Pendarvis at the helm of Pattern Beauty, a brand well-positioned to become a household name in hair care, there’s little doubt that people are watching to see what she does next.