One Ocean Beauty is the result of industry veteran Marcella Cacci’s journey to find a solution to simplify skincare. The result is a well-crafted brand built on the mantra of look good, feel good, do good. This is not just brilliant marketing jargon—these words are full of intent and action. This motto is the lens through which products are developed and content is created, and how the business is run.
Cacci has built a brand that raises the “beauty” bar through radical accountability, natural technology, and corporate philanthropy. This brand checks all the boxes. Learn more about the building of the brand and the strategy for the business in our interview with Marcella Cacci.
Tell us a little about your career. How did you find your way into the beauty business?
I have spent over 25 years, predominantly in the luxury fashion business, working for international and publicly traded companies, including Giorgio Armani, Etro, and Burberry. A pivotal point and my foray into beauty came when I was recruited by Rose-Marie Bravo to move to London as part of the Burberry executive turnaround team. We repositioned Burberry and ultimately took the company public. I then moved to Paris as Global President to establish and develop Burberry Beauty. We were fortunate to have some key successes, including the Brit franchise. One of the pivotal reasons for the success was that we approached the business not from a traditional beauty standpoint but from more of a fashion/luxury headset. With One Ocean Beauty, we wanted to take a similar non-traditional approach to all aspects, developing a socially aware concept in tune with the current zeitgeist.
There is certainly no shortage of clean indie skincare brands in today’s beauty landscape. What was the impetus for throwing your hat into the ring with the launch of One Ocean Beauty?
Clean beauty is more than a trend—it’s a health issue and a movement that will continue to proliferate and take market share. The real impetus was that there seemed to be a void for clean products that actually were effective, high performance, and clinically proven.
Determined to show proof of performance, we focused on using the most innovative, high-tech active ingredients available. All of our actives have been through rigorous clinical testing, both in vivo and in vitro—this is fairly new to the clean market. We also took an unconventional approach in deciding to create formulations that were multitasking, with some products containing up to as many as four key actives. We also decided to use the actives at the full clinical percentages, not common practice for most beauty companies. We proved that you can make a clean product that is stable, high tech, and high performance.
The ocean is the DNA of this brand. What drove the connection and commitment? How did it inform your branding, aesthetic, and imagery?
I grew up by the ocean and it has always brought balance and happiness into my life. I always knew that I felt better and looked better by the beach, but it wasn’t until I read Wallace J. Nichols’ book Blue Mind that I fully understood the powerful psychological and physiological effects of the ocean. That led me to create a brand that was fundamentally different from any of the marine-led brands on the market, both in its ingredient story, its production, and its commitment to the oceans.
When developing the branding aesthetic and imagery, we took an approach more common in fashion/lifestyle by creating a true 360-degree brand vision. Designed by Fabien Baron, the ocean was transformed into our logo. We emphasized our ocean DNA through all branding components—the name of the company, our ocean-enveloped outer packaging, and driftwood-inspired inner packaging—through to the imagery in our ad campaigns.
The color blue was also fundamental to the branding, not only for the obvious reason that it commonly ranks as a favorite color, but also because we believe that blue is truly becoming the next-generation symbol for sustainability. It has also always been a powerful symbol for well-being. Sustainability and well-being are both integral to our message and mission. All our branding elements play a synergistic role and help in communicating our core message.
You have an interesting relationship with the Lubrizol Corporation—can you share how it evolved into them becoming an investor in the business?
From the onset there was a connection with Lubrizol as we were sourcing our marine actives and developing our proprietary formulas through one of their specialized European labs. We knew we would need capital to scale the business and started talks very early in the development of the brand. The relationship evolved quickly as we realized the mutually beneficial aspects of such a relationship. Lubrizol shared our vision that clean beauty and socially committed companies are the future. And as a strategic partner, Lubrizol not only provided the funding and stability we required but presented access to cutting-edge technology, formulation development, and compliance at a best-in-class level.
Your business model is quite revolutionary when it comes to corporate philanthropy and your relationship with Oceana.
We actually started talks with Oceana well before we formed the company. Committing to creating awareness around the crisis of the oceans was one of the key inspirations for the company. We choose Oceana as they are not only the largest global organization protecting the oceans, but are science led, cause oriented, and actually do effect change. When we first started thinking about how to donate to Oceana, we knew that as a small start-up company the percentage-of-sales or percentage-of-profit model was not going to be meaningful. This led me to rethink the corporate philanthropy model in general. The existing model seemed to be conflictual on two levels: one, in the form of transparency to the consumer and, two, in the expectations for the nonprofit (tying donations to company performance).
So, we decided to create a new approach that would be much more robust and transparent. We believe that donations should be looked at as long term and built into the company’s operating structure. We signed an agreement with Oceana for $250,000 before even launching the company.
We hope this will encourage a new trend in corporate philanthropy and move major companies to rethink their contribution models.
You’ve launched with a very small range of five products, can you tell us why? Why did you feel it was important to launch with supplements and how will the range expand in the future?
The five products work as a skin system and were developed to be a simple, quick, and effective daily routine. We strategically developed the products with multitasking benefits, alleviating the need to purchase numerous products to address differing beauty concerns.
Our range expansion will be focused primarily on new category development vs replication of existing products. Products that complement the existing line and new categories, including body and sun care, are already in development.
In terms of launching the supplements, we intended the company to be beauty and wellness oriented from the onset. As beauty and wellness continue to merge, we see “healthy and happy” as the future of beauty. Our Marine Collagen supplement addresses the largest organ in our body, the skin, creating beauty inside and out. We have also performed clinical studies based on a specific active in our moisturizer used in conjunction with the Marine Collagen supplements, providing proof of performance when using both products in tandem. This type of clinical study between a topical and an ingestible is quite innovative in the market.
Which ingredients or parts of the formulation give the products their efficacy, and what were the difficulties faced when creating formula with clean ingredients?
The efficacy of the formulations is based primarily on key active ingredients. We use both marine actives and peptides, all of which have gone through rigorous in vivo and in vitro testing.
Marine microorganisms, algae, and kelp living in extreme ocean environments develop unique survival properties to protect themselves against UV radiation, pollution, and physical damage. These properties are what make them so beneficial to skincare. Through cuttingeedge blue biotechnology, these extraordinary cellular survival mechanisms are harnessed to produce marine actives, targeted to achieve specific beauty and wellness results. Our ingredients are sourced from the world’s marine environments; some include the Antarctic Ocean, the Sea of Japan, the northern coast of France, and the Mediterranean Sea.
Yes, it was a real challenge creating the clean formulations. We decided to be extremely stringent about our definition of clean by using Credo’s “Dirty List” as a benchmark. The process was much more difficult than anticipated, as many of the so-called dirty ingredients are integral to a formula’s structure and texture. As we needed to remove and substitute these ingredients we had to go through numerous trials with the lab, (which they were not accustomed to). To achieve the textures and consistency that we were ultimately comfortable with, the process took almost a year to finalize.
Can you explain why using Blue Biotechnology was so crucial to the product formulation?
Through Blue Biotechnology and bio-fermentation, the lab has been able to develop cutting-edge active ingredients.
Most importantly, Blue Biotechnology allows production to be completely sustainable, as we do not harvest from the oceans but regrow in a controlled laboratory environment, thus not adversely affecting the biodiversity of the oceans.
With all your connections I am sure you could have placed this brand anywhere—why have you decided to launch with a DTC strategy? What role does social selling have in your strategy?
We decided on a digitally led approach as we believe technology will continue to accelerate and change behavior. The relationship between the consumer and brand will become even stronger as social media and hyper-engagement continues to develop. This DTC model allows us to utilize that direct dialogue. It also enables us to price very competitively, providing an extremely high quality-to-price ratio to our customers. We are projecting the majority of the business to be DTC, but our strategy does include very select wholesale partners with whom we are in talks now.
In terms of social selling, with the continued rise of the gig economy and importance of social media / information sharing and influencers, we believe that the social selling / affiliate channels will continue to grow in popularity and strength.
Storytelling is the backbone of your content strategy. What can we expect to see on your blog?
Yes, storytelling is such an important part of who we are as a brand and is integral to our content strategy. Through this journey, we have met an amalgamation of fascinating companies and individuals whose livelihood, inspiration, and passion stems from the oceans, whether it be conservation, sustainability, wellness, music, art, sport, etc. We decided early on that we wanted to create a platform that would highlight these individuals and like-minded companies. Our blog, Blue Life, gives us the opportunity to create this community of ocean-minded people.
What excites you about the current state of the beauty industry?
The beauty industry, as many industries today, is going through a major transformation. Technology has changed our world by changing our behaviors. Traditional business models are becoming less relevant and new, disruptive business models are evolving, capturing consumer interest and market share. This has lowered the entry barrier into the market, creating a rise in the independents, and an exciting and dynamic new environment. Also, the shift in behavior has created compelling new movements, including clean beauty, hybrid beauty and wellness, social responsibility, and conscious consumerism.
What was the most shocking information you came across related to our oceans and what is a small thing individuals can do to make a difference?
Since starting this project, we’ve discovered so many shocking issues related to the conservation and protection of the oceans including: bycatch, overfishing, seismic blasting, off shore drilling, and the recent repeal of many of the country’s environmental protection acts, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The most shocking piece of information, I think, is the fact that an estimated 17.6 billion pounds of plastic enters the ocean every year. This is devastating to the marine environment. Sometimes these issues seem overwhelming but individuals can make a difference. It can be as simple as limiting single-use plastics in our everyday life and having the courage to start these type of conversations.
Photo credit: One Ocean Beauty