In preparation for the Beauty & Money conference in New York, Benedict H. Auld, CEO and Founder of Lapidarius, caught up with founder Jun Lee of Eir NYC, one of the independent beauty brands hand-picked to share their business and product in a quick-fire round of presentations at Beauty & Money New York.
What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category?
Practical while being high quality, and lovely to use. Luxury utility. We’re all about the outdoor, active lifestyle market. And we make products that work for it. Our products are very high quality, contain real herbals that work beyond the norm of skincare (I’m a certified herbalist and have tried to bring that skill to bear on the product.) We go after the most useful active lifestyle applications like sunblock, after-sun, and muscle soreness. We combine herbal remedy with skincare, sort of like athleisure combines occasions and styles. We are practical, utilitarian, unisex, and we stand behind our product.
Tell me about that consumer.
As you would expect, a lot of them are surfers, snowboarders, surfers, marathoners, yogis—and our social media content and messaging reflect that. Outside and enjoying life. And of course, starting with a core and contentious topic—chemical suncare, where there’s a ton of debate about chemical sunscreens known to harm the ocean environment. People are really starting to care about what they are putting on their body, and also because it winds up in the sea. We started talking about that concern and it really resonated. Our zinc sunscreen stick is 100% compostable. You leave it on the beach by mistake, not a problem to the environment. That’s an investment we’ve made—that packaging is costly today—but it’s totally worth it.
What journey is the brand on today in terms of challenges and big opportunities?
A challenge is for us to expand to Europe—that EU certification is costly and we’ve lacked the capital to do it up to this point. That’s a big opportunity and we’ve had interest from major retailers there.
We do a lot of manufacturing in-house and as order size goes heading toward the tens of thousands, it’s a huge challenge, so we’re looking for an outsourced solution to make inventory well in advance of needing it.
The big opportunities: we have finally have a distribution strategy for Japan and are excited at the prospect of selling there, there are some Korean distributors interested, too.
What would your ideal investor look like?
We seek someone that has beauty experience to guide us from this phase to the next phase, from small to medium. Strategic partners, for sure.
What’s your vision for the next 5 years?
We’d love to sell it to a bigger beauty company so that they can help us expand and grow. We are expanding our product lines into cleanse and haircare.
Our goal is to secure international distribution, big retail partners, and a huge focus on digital marketing. We’d like for our e-commerce to be 50% or more of the business.
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