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Cosmetics Co. Seeks to Create Lasting Impression

Beauty Bakerie, a quirky cosmetics company in San Diego, has raised $3 million in a fundraising round led by Unilever Ventures, the investment arm of consumer goods giant Unilever.

The new cash will be used to manufacture more of the startup’s bakery-themed makeup products to meet the demands of retailers, said the company’s founder Cashmere Nicole.

Unilever has been an active corporate investor in recent years, most frequently investing in food and beverage companies, health care startups, and e-commerce brands.

Beauty Bakerie falls into the latter category. Although the company has a brick and mortar location at the Westfield Mission Valley mall, it primarily sells products online.

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The Product

The company, founded in 2011, makes a sweet-themed line of cosmetics products with a popular line of lipsticks called “Lip Whip.” It’s true that lipsticks are a dime a dozen, but this product actually has a differentiating feature: it doesn’t come off. Like… at all. In fact, the product requires a special Lip Whip Remover to take it off at the end of the night.

Unlike lip stains or other types of long-lasting lipsticks, Nicole said Lip Whip remains in “full pigment” all day.

“A stain or a residue is not as pigmented as the lipstick itself, so what you’re left with at the end of the day is someone who looks like she’s been working all day,” Nicole said. “With the Lip Whips, you put them on full pigment, and they’re still on full pigment when you get off work.”

Nicole said the Lip Whips were the foundation to the company’s inception, as she wanted to develop a makeup product that didn’t wear off by the end of the work day.

“The makeup consumer was missing convenience,” Nicole said. “Makeup had become exhausting to wear. On average, we touch up our makeup eight to 15 times per day. Who has time for that?”

Nicole speculates that cosmetics brands intentionally create products that wear off easily, so that consumers have to buy replacements more often.

The Traction

Beauty Bakerie has garnered a diverse following of young women, as the brand creates products that complement all skin tones. The brand has been promoted by U.S. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas and Beyoncé.

Although the company has a strong e-commerce model selling on 15 retailer’s websites, Beauty Bakerie will also land in 50 stores by the end of this year. That includes Forever 21-owned Riley Rose and 40 Wojooh stores in Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

The company is profitable, Nicole said, and employs 25 people between its mall store, warehouse, and San Diego-based headquarters.

But the company needed investment capital to keep up with retailer’s demands, she said. The new infusion of cash will go toward marketing and the manufacturing of products.

The Fundraising

The capital was raised on a crowdfunding site for consumer brands called CircleUp, which is based in San Francisco. In addition to lead investor Unilever Ventures, the platform also connected Beauty Bakerie with a number of well-known individual investors, including Kenneth Chenault, the CEO and chairman of American Express; and Charles Phillips, CEO of software firm Infor and former president of Oracle Corp.

“We have been impressed by Beauty Bakerie’s e-commerce-led model and consistent growth as well as the strong engagement of the brand’s millennial consumer base,” said Anna Ohlsson-Baskerville, director at Unilever Ventures. “I look forward to working with Cashmere and the management team to build upon the company’s momentum and many growth opportunities.”

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