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Helping Beauty Brands Scale and Crack the Manufacturing Code

Published May 23, 2023
Published May 23, 2023

Atelier, which has built a platform for beauty, health, and wellness brands, is solving the manufacturing conundrum that stands between new brands and their products. The company, which has been operating in stealth mode since 2021, allows brands to create their own supply chains regardless of their size, with no minimums and without investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to boost their capabilities.

“Where do you want me to start,” said Atelier founder Nick Benson, noting that until now, Atelier really only acted as a consultancy servicing A.U. customers in stealth and some cult U.S. brands. “The reason I ask is there’s two kinds of stories to tell. The first is kind of what brands see—and what it means for product—and then there’s the story of the underlying technology and what it means to manufacturing.

“They’re obviously hand in glove,” Benson said. “As far as products go, we’re a new innovation and manufacturing at scale, effectively, as a service. Instead of building the capability internally, brands can come to us and have that problem solved. Instead of having to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars on research and development, we built a data-sharing relationship with a huge swath of the manufacturing landscape. That allows brands to instantly have visibility across any number of capabilities within the supply chain that produces products—and produces a value-driven supply chain.

Brands are able to make sustainable and ethical decisions, Benson said, noting that Atelier has spent years building out a robust and comprehensive manufacturing network, “really the best manufacturers in the world for the categories we offer—beauty, health, and wellness. Then, we organize those resources into a network and allow our brands to access that network and use it as a service,” he said.

The actual technology platform Atelier has launched combines leading edge technologies such as digital twins, web-based 3D, and semantically enriched graph databases (launching now). The Atelier platform has taken the team that long to build because it required solving multiple never-before-solved technological hurdles.

Benson drew an analogy between Atelier and AWS (Amazon Web Services), saying that what Atelier is to beauty, health, and wellness brands, AWS was to cloud computing in 2006. “Brands would have to build a data center and service internally—to be able to link the computer to their organization and that was a really expensive thing to do,” Benson said. “They had to buy machines and hire people to maintain those machines. All this for their organization to be able to access computer capabilities. It prevented new, small brands from creating apps.

“Then, Amazon realized it could take those capabilities, which individual organizations weren’t great at, and organize those machines into a network and access that network as a buy-as-use-service,” Benson said. “After that, we saw a huge flourishing of new brands, new products, and new apps entering the market post-2007.

“We get everything we know and love, like Facebook and Instagram and Uber, and all of a sudden it’s okay to gain access to that capability to build your business on—brands that have to effectively raise money to launch brands, can now do it in an  affordable, scalable, efficient way.”

"A lot of people in the consumer world don’t think of the kind scale in the way technologists do, and technologists don’t really think about applying their insight into scale towards the physical world."
By Nick Benson, Founder, Atelier

Like all manufacturers, the ones Atelier works with have minimums and the minimums are driven by the machines they have. Atelier can aggregate a minimum through supply and demand using demand to get manufacturers to do things they ordinarily wouldn’t do for individual brands.

”When a brand works with us and we build the supply chain for them, they’re getting the advantage of all of the other brands that work with us—a collective sort of buying that we’re able to do,” Benson said. “We give smaller brands access to manufacturers that they would otherwise never get access to. Manufacturers that create products for all of the biggest luxury brands—and the fastest-growing beauty brands and cult beauty brands, get access to manufacturers that ordinarily wouldn’t look at them until they were doing much larger scale business.

“Manufacturers work with Atelier because we’re already at quite a big scale,” Benson added. “We allow brands to basically get access and build those supply chains—and order samples immediately. With our platform, the first couple of brands that worked with us had samples in their hands within 16 days. Usually that would take a brand maybe 12 months to get to that point, and they would have spent a lot of money to get there.”

Because Atelier has already done the kind of scoping of the network—and scoping out manufacturers’ capabilities to allow brands to select what they want to create, it feels very much like a brand is just designing a product.

“What they’re really doing is curating capabilities to produce that product at scale over and over again,” Benson said. “It’s important to us that we’re building a commercial operational supply chain for brands. Not just the ability to create a product, but to be able to replicate that product at scale so brands can grow without having to worry about the supply chain having to support that growth.”

Benson’s background is in product design. He was a  consultant in the luxury space, working on designing products and building supply chains to support those products for some of the biggest luxury brands in the world. “I broke away from that and started my own consulting firm,” he said. “I have a unique perspective. A lot of people in the consumer world don’t think of the kind scale in the way technologists do, and technologists don’t really think about applying their insight into scale towards the physical world. I understood that there was a big problem in manufacturing. I guess I always wanted to build something impactful. We're solving the problem of manufacturing. It’s one of the biggest problems that exists on the planet today. When there’s a problem that you can say you’ve experienced and you can say how to solve it, that’s something that was particularly interesting to me. Having the chance to go after this opportunity was a no-brainer once I connected all those dots together. It was a really exciting thing to move towards.”

There’s definitely other product categories in Atelier’s future. “The composable manufacturing model that Atelier is pioneering, we’re launching with beauty. That’s the market we’re going after, but definitely in the future, we see ourselves systematically spanning out across all consumer packaged goods (CPG), multicomponent consumer packaged goods, jewelry, toys, alcoholic beverages, and consumer electronics. We definitely see the opportunity as solving CPG, and we’ve been intentional in the way we’ve built our technology to be agnostic. We’re able to expand across categories and that’s definitely a part of the growth story you’ll see in the future. Apparel definitely makes sense for us. We’ve got a road map of the next few categories we’ll go after. Apparel isn’t one of those categories, but it definitely will be in the future. In the next five years, Atelier will be the place to produce any type of consumer product.

“We enable smaller brands but also work with mid-market brands and publicly listed companies, including some of the biggest luxury brands in the world—and also tiny brands,” Benson said. “It’s a challenge that everyone who’s making products faces. We’re democratizing manufacturing.”


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