6 Black Woman Owned Brands
Poised for Acquisition
Ella T. Gorgla, Co-Founder 25BWB.org | @25_BWB | April 23, 2020
What’s your exit strategy?
If you’re an entrepreneur raising capital, be prepared to answer this question. The exit can come in many forms. Perhaps you plan to hold on to your company, find new investors at a higher valuation and give your early investors an exit. Or you and your management team can buyout your investors. Or, or…perhaps you’re among the lucky few well positioned to be acquired by the Big Beauty and CPG companies of the world. And there’s the option of no exit, but simply building, growing, holding and transferring wealth to the next generation, but alas, that’s not the purpose of this article – see title.
Over the past decade, there have been notable albeit few exits/acquisitions of Black owned companies. There’s of course Unilever’s acquisition of Shea Moisture in 2017, Procter & Gamble’s acquisition of The Walker & Company home of Bevel and Form Beauty in 2018 for an undisclosed amount and others in the tech space like Pathbrite which was acquired by Cenage. We’d like to say we could on and on, but the list is unfortunately a short one.
Here is a different list of sorts. A list of prospects.
These are 6 Black Woman Owned Brands poised for acquisition and why.
Quite frankly, it’s a bit surprising someone hasn’t yet snatched up Briogeo.
Founded in 2016 by Nancy Twine, a former VP of Commodity Sales at Goldman Sachs, Briogeo in their words “takes it back to basics, offering a high-performance, hair care collection that is naturally based, yet performance driven to provide visible results.“ Perfectly crafted language aside, Briogeo hits all the right notes.
Beautiful, yet accessible design.
Growth market segment. U.S. natural haircare is expected to reach $2 Billion by 2024, an of 11% increase over 2019.
Impressive list of retail partners which can be a good or bad thing from the acquirer's standpoint. The brand is sold at Sephora, Nordstrom, Anthropologie and more, though not currently available at Ulta. Opportunity perhaps?
Innovative - launching new products at the heart of demand like its Scalp Revival System and B.Well, allowing it to gently expand into new categories like supplements and deodorant, without diluting its brand.
Briogeo would fit perfectly in the portfolio of a Big Beauty Company that under indexes in hair and has the global reach to introduce Briogeo to say – Brazil, South Africa. Current international partners for the brand include Sephora France, Sephora New Zealand, Sephora Australia among others.
There you have it, Briogeo for the win.
#2. THE HONEY POT COMPANY
You may or may not have heard of Honey Pot, which could actually be a good thing.
Founded by Bea Dixon in 2014 in what she describes a calling from the ancestors (love this woman), Honey Pot is a plant based feminine care company with products to cleanse and refresh your vagina. Yes, your vagina.
They recently launched menstrual cups which have gotten rave reviews. Speaking of reviews, the company was in the news last month because of a bit of backlash at Target, which ended up working in its favor.
So why is Honey Pot a great acquisition target. Several reasons:
It’s in a market in need of disruption. The feminine care segment (Sanitary Napkins/Pads; Tampons; Panty liners; Menstrual Cup; Feminine Hygiene Wash) is expected to reach $42 Billion by 2022 at a CAGR 6%-8% according to Allied Research. The market has long been dominated by Procter & Gamble, but as the Clean Beauty trend grows, women are becoming more conscious of what they put on and in their vaginas. Yes. Vaginas.
The brand has excellent retail distribution in the likes of Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, Walgreens and more.
Its clever branding and light language lends itself to select product placement at Ulta, Sephora, Detox Market and other traditional specialty multi retailer where they currently do not exist.
To date, the company has raised ~ $4Million from investors including the New Voices Fund established by Richelieu Dennis, founder of SheaMoisture.
3. OUI THE PEOPLE
Shaving wars are a real thing.
The razor industry is largely dominated by three players, Procter & Gamble (Gillette), Edgewell (Schick) and Unilever’s Dollar Shave Club. P&G who once held 70% market share and enjoyed hefty profit margins has now seen market share erode to 50% driven by more inexpensive and innovative upstarts like Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s subscription model offerings. Last year, Edgewell was set to buy Harry’s for $1.37 Billion until the FTC blocked the deal over concerns of antitrust stating “Harry’s is a uniquely disruptive competitor in the wet shave market, and it has forced its rivals to offer lower prices, and more options, to consumers across the country,” Oh, OK.
Edgewell pulled out and Harry’s got pissed (wouldn’t you be upset if you were this close to a Billion) and is now threatening to sue Edgewell. Meanwhile, P&G quietly snatched up Billie, the female subscription shaving company who counts Serena Williams (via Serena Ventures) and Female Founders Fund among its investors. Billie is known for its unapologetic and quirky marketing that overflows with irony. It’s a shaving brand that has ads where everyone has hair. Everywhere. On their vagina, underarms, legs, everywhere which one of our Instagram followers pointed out “is precisely why I know them.” Genius.
So this leads us to Oui The People.
This is a brand with sharp branding, strong press, and is in a somewhat difficult market to enter that, as we noted above, is witnessing its own form of disruption. Now, while Big Beauty brands have been known to buy small brands with a few million in revenue – often done to acquire the people, technology or for purely financial reasons – we don’t necessarily see this as a play for Big Beauty, but more so a Beauty Incubator. Yes. An incubator like Rare Beauty Brands, Luxury Brand Partners and Volta Digital Brands. These incubators are known for acquiring brands in part or in whole, with plans of scaling them up through expanded distribution, product development and stronger marketing.
Oui the People was founded by Karen Young in 2015 with $180,000 in prize money from the New York Creators Award. In what can only be described as a Love Letter to the Safety Razor (hence the title of the essay), Refinery29 writer Alix Tunnel laments “I didn't really know what a safety razor was, other than old-fashioned and terrifying — and I certainly didn't think using one would change the whole damn shaving game. I was wrong. And now, I've made it my mission to spread the word.” And her lover (er razor) of choice, Oui the People. It’s a fascinating piece.
Glowing reviews aside, Oui The People, has great growth potential, solid fundamentals and is likely already on someone’s radar.
#4. ORGANIC BATH CO.
You’ve likely never heard of Organic Bath Co. Have you?
It’s one of those unassuming brands with beautiful design and warm messaging. The sort of company you’d trust to babysit your newly adopted puppies. Seriously, they’re super cute, but cuteness aside, let’s talk about the business.
The company was founded in 2014 by husband and wife team Gianne Doherty and Jay Weeks in Boston, MA. Products are made using 92% organic, fair-trade certified ingredients across skincare, bath & body and… hand sanitizers. The company introduced Hand Soap into the mix and as you can imagine, quickly sold out.
Organic Bath Co is also similar to another husband/wife duo brand that was quietly acquired in 2019 by Rare Beauty Brands. Plant Apothecary was actually on this list of black female owned brands to acquire until a bit of research revealed that an entity had done just that.
Why Organic? It is well positioned for scale, small enough with a long runway for growth and is operating in a very attractive space – Clean Beauty. Like Oui The People, Organic Bath Co would be ideal for a Beauty Incubator.
#5. THE LIP BAR
Pleeease say you’ve heard of The Lip Bar. It could have been from their Shark Tank pitch (didn’t get a deal) or their incredibly lovable bestie-in-your-head founder, Melissa Butler and there’s of course their product line. Vegan Beauty.
The Clean Beauty movement goes beyond skincare and haircare. Makeup is starting to see its own disruption. With some suggesting that the average [makeup wearing] woman consumes 7 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime and with the realization that what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body - more and more women are becoming acutely aware of ingredients in their makeup thus driving increased demand for Vegan Makeup. The recent acquisition of vegan makeup brand W3LL People by e.l.f. Beauty for $27 million ought to be a strong signal for The Lip Bar.
The Lip Bar also underscores an important point – that a brand can be both clean and bold in its artistry. Products include lipsticks in rich hues with fun names like Control Freak and Bawse Lady. Particularly attractive is its ability to not only capitalize on makeup trends, but behavioral trends as well with the launch of Fast Face which taps into a woman's desire for fast, effective, multifunctional makeup.
The Lip Bar can be found at Target and on its own eCommerce site. With a few tweaks, the company has the potential to be the NYX or Kat Von D of the clean makeup beauty space. Both brands are owned by L’Oreal and LVMH respectively.
#6. PAT MCGRATH LABS
Some may argue that this is a no brainer, others may argue too expensive and there’s a third argument where both can be true - genius of the ‘And’ if you will. A bit of history.
Pat McGrath is arguably one of the most important makeup artists of her time. Her credentials are extensive. She’s been the lead makeup artist for designers including Prada and Giorgio Armani (for whom she created a cosmetics line in 1999) and was the makeup artist of choice on campaigns for Louis Vuitton, Lanvin, Calvin Klein and Balenciaga. She is – Mother.
The British icon credits her Jamaican mother Jean for introducing her to the world of hair, makeup, and fashion. “She trained me, basically, to do the shows, right there... look at the pattern, check the fabrics, look for the makeup and begin,” she told British Vogue in 2007.
McGrath launched her eponymous line in 2015 with one ultra glamourous product, Gold 001, in limited quantity that sold out in minutes. It was a hit. This was followed by a few more glamourous drops, all selling out in record time. The retail strategy of ‘Scarcity’ was executed to perfection. Her full line came in 2017, marked by the sort of aspirational glamour and luxury that positioned her as a true prestige brand. Her packaging is beautiful. Pigments are rich. Marketing, brilliant.
The company has raised an estimated $80 Million from investors including Eurazeo, the French Private Equity firm with ~ $19 Billion in assets under management and investments in Herschel ($60M in 2019), Nest Fragrances and Moncler. The funding puts the valuation of Pat McGrath Labs at $1 Billion. SELF-MADE.
The brand is one of the top prestige makeup brands in the world. While the market for makeup is largely flat in the U.S., growth is being captured by smaller indie brands and Pat McGrath Labs is still considered small with revenues reportedly below $100 million. Additionally, there’s tremendous opportunity for global expansion, particularly in Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia.
And, there’s also the potential of skincare. Pat McGrath Labs x Skin. We’d buy it.
Images: @Briogeo, @thehoneypotco, @ouithepeople, @organicbath, @thelipbar, @patmcgrathreal
Written by Ella T. Gorgla, co-founder of 25BWB.org
Ella is a Business & Strategy Consultant and has over 20 years of professional experience including stints on Wall Street and with Big Beauty. All opinions are her own.
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