Carisa Janes was building a career developing cosmetic lines for apparel companies. Four years ago, inspiration struck: She decided to launch her own company because she saw the market for a line of high-end cosmetics that combine skin-treatment properties with makeup.
Things worked out, so she's adding another dimension with a line of bath and body products.
She continues to grow the Hourglass cosmetics line through her Venice-based company, Kingdom Animalia LLC. But Janes is also working on another project Trees, her one-year-old bath and body line.
"It's very slow growth," she said. "It's my baby."
Trees started out almost by accident. Janes created six fragrances thinking she would launch a perfume line. Instead, she took $60,000 and put the aromas in candles, lotions, shower gels and body scrubs.
She designed each fragrance with a specific healing purpose in mind. One of them, for example, was formulated to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Getting people to understand the aromatherapeutic value behind the fragrances has been a challenge, Janes said. So she decided to sell the brand to spas, where people are already familiar with the concept.
The full line, including massage oils not available for retail sale, is now being tested at a spa in Lenox, Mass. Trees products can also be found at a few Los Angeles locations, including the newly opened SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills.
The company's goal has been to create a collection of products that will become the core of affluent women's daily routines.
"You want to make products that people can't live without," Janes said.
Hourglass products sell for between $22 and $75, and Trees products sell for between $26 and $65 higher than midrange brand Clinique and on par with high-end names such as Dior.
Janes justifies the prices of her cosmetics and spa products by including high-tech skin treatment ingredients in the makeup and a high content of essential oils in the spa products.
Industry experts have taken note of Hourglass' formulations.
"Hourglass is innovative," said Taya Tomasello, a beauty product analyst with the Chicago office of Mintel International Group Ltd., a market research consulting company. "Their Veil fluid foundation has anti-aging and skin benefits, which is definitely a trend in the industry as more consumers want skin care products in their color cosmetics. As long as they continue to develop these products, it'll be a brand other brands will aspire to."
Janes said her brand's most innovative product is Solar Tan, which allows the user to build a natural-looking tan over five to seven days instead of turning orange instantly. Janes is seeking a patent for Solar Tan, which also serves as a makeup base.
Veil is the best-selling cosmetic in the Hourglass line. Its liquid foundation contains an anti-wrinkle product called Matrixyl, vitamins A and E, and sunblock. Other products with skin-treatment properties include its Oxygen mineral powder and Extreme Sheen lip gloss.
There are other cosmetic brands on the market with color products containing skin-treatment ingredients, some of them from well-known brands.
Tomasello said that anti-aging properties in color cosmetics is in high demand.
"Science is a big part of cosmetics now," she said. "There's a lot of room to grow in this area."
Sephora, a beauty product retailer found in higher-end malls, started carrying Hourglass in 19 of its stores in October 2007. The brand is now carried in 77 Sephora stores and will expand to an additional 40 in the spring.
"Hourglass mixes elegance with high-tech beauty," said Laurette Puhlmann, a merchandise representative with Sephora. "Sephora offers clients products that are gentle, effective, innovative and that deliver optimal results Hourglass exceeds these principles."
Puhlmann declined to give sales figures for Hourglass, but said that it was one of the retailer's most successful new brands.
Janes, 35, said she has always wanted nothing more than to put her stamp on a high-end product that would be known around the world.
She studied design and marketing at Parsons School of Design in New York. After graduating, she took a job in her native Orange County at Urban Decay Cosmetics LLC, which was in its infancy at the time. That's where she learned about product development and starting a business.
After a year, Janes left Urban Decay and went on to create cosmetics lines for two apparel companies, first Body & Soul, then Sugar.
While working for Sugar, Janes decided it was time to create her own brand.
"A lot of cosmetics are targeted toward the mass market or makeup artists. We haven't had a new luxury brand in a long time," she said. "So I wanted to develop my own, and I didn't want to feel restricted or compromise for price. I wanted to develop the most innovative and beautiful cosmetics line."
So Janes got $250,000 from a private investor and started working on her line. She paid as much attention to the packaging of the products as she did the ingredients, raising prices even further.
In 2004, Hourglass launched at Barney's New York stores. The company had sales of $700,000 in 2007 and is on track toward $2.5 million this year. Janes attributes the growth to the increasing number of Sephora stores carrying the product, and expects sales to hit at least $3.5 million next year as a result.
Janes is trying to build an international business. Hourglass can already be found in Canada and Singapore, and the line will be sold on the television shopping network QVC starting in January.
The next step for the Trees brand is to bring it into high-end hotel spas. Ultimately, Janes would like to open her own spa where she can develop and test her products.
Kingdom Animalia LLC
Core Business: High-end cosmetics and bath products with skin-treatment additives
Employees in 2008: 7 (up from 3 in 2007)
Goal: To become a luxury brand known around the world
Driving Force: The demand for makeup with anti-aging properties and for quality spa products
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