Comedian Liza Koshy is a C'est Moi brand ambassador.

Comedian Liza Koshy is a C'est Moi brand ambassador.

For some Jakks Pacific Inc. customers, the relationship with the Santa Monica-based company doesn’t end when they outgrow its toy offerings.
 
If they’re after clean beauty, chances are they’ll run into Jakks’ cosmetics and skincare products, sold under the C’est Moi brand.

 
The division launched in 2018, and its lineup of cleansers, lotions, masks and sunscreens lands in some 3,000 Walmart Inc. stores at the end of August.


Jakks Senior Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Saul described the step as “massive.”


“We know that we’ll able to reach a very, very wide audience,” she said. “The revenue opportunity — and obviously our fingers are crossed for this — is anywhere between $7 million and $10 million … but it could be so much larger than that, too.”


Saul joined Jakks in 2016 when the toymaker acquired C’est Moi from founder Jessica Tang for $300,000 as part of its portfolio diversification efforts. The brand focused on performance makeup for kids ages 4 to 12 at the time and was distributed only in Singapore, Dubai, Australia and Malaysia.


“The original concept that Jakks had acquired has nothing to do with what we’re doing today — we recreated everything.” Saul said, adding that C’est Moi’s products are formulated with clean ingredients for sensitive and blemish-prone skin types.

 
The brand’s focus is on Gen Z — those born between 1995 and 2010 — and younger millennials. It’s also “radically inclusive in terms of gender, race and in terms of sexual orientation,” according to Saul.


New brand

C’est Moi started out by selling products via its website, Amazon.com and Target.com. The division got its first major break in December 2019 when it got into 50 BeautyIRL, a shop-in-shop concept at CVS Pharmacy stores that features an expanded and redesigned beauty department and offers mini beauty services. The relationship expanded to some 450 CVS stores in May 2020, but the opportunity was ill-timed.
 
“It was awful,” Saul said. “The pandemic was very hard on us … especially being a new brand because no one (was) browsing the aisles … at the height of lockdown.”

 
At the same time, the brand’s online business “picked up really drastically, which was great,” she added. “It has been a struggle, but for me, I believe so wholeheartedly in what we’re doing, and I think it takes time to find your sweet spot at retail. It also takes time to find your brand awareness with that retailer. And so that’s something that we work hard on every day, and it’s something that we’re very committed to.”


The second win for C’est Moi was securing shelf space at 277 Target Corp. stores in January. Saul said her team did not have a say when it came to placement in specific stores but provided the retail chain’s buyers with data on the brand’s customer base and product differentiation to come up with the best match.


“That buyer is investing time and money in you, and it’s really on you to come to the table, to do the research to make their job easier,” she said.

 
But once on the shelf, there are no assurances how long the product will stay there.


“Whenever you launch with any retailer you have benchmarks that you must hit because they have numbers that they have to hit, so there’s expectations all around, and you’re not guaranteed anything — you have got to perform,” Saul added.


Walmart deal

Saul’s conversations with Walmart started in 2019. The mass retailer liked that C’est Moi’s products were made by contract manufacturers based in the United States.
 
“They have a program called Made in America, so they are very focused on the pride behind Americans and American-made products,” she said.  


But Walmart’s recent push to provide a wider variety of clean makeup and skincare brands to its consumers at affordable prices is what sealed the deal.


“We’re part of a brand-new category in beauty called Mindful Beauty at Walmart,” Saul said, adding that the retailer, which operates more than 10,0000 stores, “really hasn’t until now really made a position in the clean beauty space, and this is their intensive effort to create product differentiation in what they’re offering and to bring some newer brands in.”


The products C’est Moi will be offering include One of One, a makeup and skincare collection it developed in collaboration with its brand ambassador and comedian Liza Koshy.

 
Saul described the partnership with Koshy as a “very honest and very authentic experience” that is “vastly important not only for us and our mission in general of who we are, but also for our demographic.”


“She got her hands on our products and … she’s been dealing with a lot of skin conditions over the years, and so (her team) reached out to me and said, ‘We don’t know what you’re doing over there, but our client will not stop talking about your products, and she has to work with you,’” Saul said.

 
“And so, from then on, we started developing a relationship together. … I felt like she really was the perfect match for our brand identity because she just doesn’t take herself too seriously and she (has) a beautiful approach to what a healthy self-image is and really kind of celebrating who you are and just having fun. Beauty should be fun and should also be meaningful,” she added.

 
Saul’s team of five, working out of Jakks’ headquarters in Santa Monica, makes up a small portion of the company’s 600-plus workforce. The toy manufacturer, which reported a net loss of $15.5 million on $112.4 million in sales in the second quarter, does not break out C’est Moi’s revenue. Jakks also counts Target and Walmart as major customers with the retailers accounting for 30.9% and 27% of its sales for the quarter, respectively.


“We function completely separately, so everything that we do is very dedicated and focused on our business specifically because it’s very different from the core competency of Jakks,” Saul said.


The investment in C’est Moi “makes sense,” according to Adrienne Appell, toy trend specialist with Toy Association Inc., a New York-based trade association representing businesses that design, produce, license, and deliver toys and youth entertainment products.


“This is an audience Jakks understands from its play and costume business,” Appell said, adding that the toymaker is “still marketing to Mom and Dad or Grandma” who probably feel more comfortable buying C’est Moi products at a retailer where they used to buy toys for their now-teens than walking up to the makeup counter.

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