Henry Rose is a radically transparent line of fragrance and personal care products created by Michelle Pfeiffer. Michelle began this journey over a decade ago after struggling to find a fragrance that she could feel good about wearing, both for the safety of its ingredients and the scents themselves. Michelle worked with industry leader International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) to develop Henry Rose based on the stringent guidelines set forth by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Cradle to Cradle (C2C). In a striking departure from industry norms established over many decades, Henry Rose is proud to disclose 100% of its ingredients, thereby setting a new precedent for transparency in fine fragrance and personal care.
Founder: Michelle Pfeiffer
Leadership: Debi Theis, President
2023 Full Year Expected Revenue Range: $10 to $20MM (estimated by industry experts)
Categories: Fragrance, Body Care
Distribution Channel: Prestige, Department Store
In May 2023, Henry Rose took its first outside investment, closing a Series A funding round led by Sandbridge Capital.
Notable Investors: Sandbridge Capital
What are some of your key business initiatives for 2023?
We’re continuing to expand our product offering in a way that feels right for the brand. We listen to our consumers to inform our product development and are excited about our new product launches this year. We’re focusing on growing our existing business with our brand partners (Credo Beauty, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Nordstrom) and launching into new retailers as well.
What are you most proud of having accomplished?
Ingredient transparency in the fragrance industry has been a passion project of Michelle’s for well over two decades after struggling to find one that she could feel good about wearing, both for the safety of the ingredients and the quality of the scents themselves. When she started seeing the world through the eyes of her children and paying attention to what they were consuming and putting on their bodies, she questioned how environmental factors and products affect our health. Michelle dove into research and through EWG realized that fragrance had a high hazard ranking because nobody ever knew what was actually in it.
After many no’s, setbacks, and frustrations, industry leader IFF agreed to develop Henry Rose based on the stringent guidelines set forth by EWG and C2C. IFF’s perfumers eagerly committed to the challenge, which limited them to formulating from a palette of a few hundred ingredients, down from thousands available for standard perfumery. We are so proud to be the first fine fragrance brand certified by both EWG and C2C. Beyond this, the brand has been recognized with several beauty and grooming awards from Allure, Glamour, and Women’s Health, and Michelle has been recognized with female founder awards from CEW and Inc.
What has been the biggest surprise since the brand was founded?
Henry Rose believes that scarcity breeds innovation, and some of the most creative work is born as a result of limitation. The brand has proven exceptional creativity from its onset through its ability to formulate and release new products while working with an extremely limited ingredient palette. Perfumers typically formulate from a palette of about 3,000 ingredients. However, given the ingredient restrictions imposed by both the EWG and C2C, Henry Rose’s perfumers were limited to working with a palette of only about 300 ingredients.
Despite these limitations, Henry Rose has continuously expanded its product range in a way that feels natural and authentic to the brand, placing a substantial focus on consumer listening. In October 2021, Henry Rose released its first true floral scent, two and a half years after launching, after repeated requests from the brand’s community. Despite the consumer demand, a floral scent proved the most challenging to formulate to date, given the limited ingredient palette with which the brand can work.
What aspect of your brand DNA fuels your competitive advantage?
Henry Rose discloses 100% of its ingredients, being the first fine fragrance to receive both distinctions of EWG Verified and C2C Certified. EWG, dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, ensures products avoid EWG’s extensive list of chemicals of concern, fully disclose its ingredients to consumers, and follow good manufacturing processes. C2C Certified is widely used as a global measure of the safety, health, and sustainability of a material or product. They assess products across five quality categories: material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness practices.
Henry Rose and IFF built the data for the Green Chemistry Assessment Tool used to quantitatively score the overall sustainability of their ingredient catalog, products, and processes. Almost all of our fragrances score between 90 to 100% for key green chemistry principles; our practices are centered around energy efficiency, the use of renewable, raw ingredients, and the avoidance of hazardous materials. We are committed to sourcing packaging materials from sustainable or renewable resources wherever possible. All of our packaging is either recyclable, refillable, biodegradable, and/or compostable.
Please share your insight on the future of the beauty industry.
Consumers are continuing to get more sophisticated, and smarter, and leaning towards wellness and what they not only put inside of their bodies, but on their bodies as well. This is going to continue to fuel the beauty industry. They are becoming very mindful of quality over quantity and realizing that sometimes less is more. We’ve seen that consumers are very aware of the impact on the planet, wanting to feel good about what they purchase, and that the products they purchase help to solve problems instead of contributing to them.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Know your customers like they’re your best friend.
Paying it forward, what advice would you give to someone contemplating launching a beauty brand?
Start with a clear business plan that states your mission, story, and a clear point of difference. What the market needs now more than ever is answers to consumer needs that aren’t currently being met. During the process, eliminate external distractions to remain laser focused and prioritize what you want to do. It’s okay to do a little bit at a time so you don’t experience burnout, but set clear KPIs and how you define success. And remember, some fires you have to let burn.
If you could change one thing in the beauty industry, what would it be?
Many people hear the word “clean” and assume that it means safe, but clean and safe do not mean the same thing. We avoid using the word “clean” because it is an unregulated category; there are so many different definitions of what clean means. We’d like for the beauty industry to establish a clear and agreed-upon definition for what clean, green, and natural mean so the consumer can make more informed purchasing decisions. With Henry Rose, we are setting a new precedent for safety, transparency, and quality in fragrance.
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