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Beauty & Money Summit 2017

Kelly Kovack shares her industry insights with us from the Beauty & Money Summit in New York. Kelly is principal of Brand Growth Management, CEO of BeautyMatter and co-founder of award-winning, niche fragrance brand Odin New York.

Last week marked Kisaco Research’s first Beauty & Money Summit. The foundation of the conference was structured on a series of 15-minute meetings (think speed dating for brands and investors) with the sole mission of connecting money with brands. 

Scott Gurfein, Chairman, AllWork and Beauty Industry Entrepreneur, summed up the event by saying, “One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in fundraising and deal-making is the importance of the in-person meeting irrespective of technology’s ability to make the world a smaller place. Beauty & Money succeeds in efficiently delivering that key element to the process by bringing industry players together from all corners of the world to engage both individually and collectively.”

Brand and retail strategist Nadia Yousif said of the summit, “Understanding of what the financial community is looking for and the opportunity to introduce independent emerging brands with the right strategic buyers, private equity group and or investment banker is invaluable.”

Another part of the conference provided 12 independent beauty brands that were handpicked by a selection committee the opportunity to present their businesses in a quick-fire round of two-minute presentations. Fundraising is stressful in the most controlled situations, so we decided to circle back with spotlight brands for our own three-question follow-up. 


ZIIP co-founders Melanie Simon and Dave Mason have developed the first skincare device that operates through a mobile app. The at-home device harnesses the cell-stimulating power of electrical currents, mimicking the body’s own impulses, kick-starting cells and optimizing their efficiency.

What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category?ZIIP is the first and only nano-current facial device that has an app for the user to download any one of the six treatments. These include acne, anti-aging, eyes, sensitive skin, men’s treatment, and one called Instant Gratification. New treatments are being added every few months so there is always something new, and once you own the device, you get them all.  

What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand?ZIIP was created by a world-known electrical esthetician, Melanie Simon, and a seasoned Silicon Valley engineer, David Mason. The technology behind ZIIP is groundbreaking: tiny, energetic currents are pushed into the skin through positively and negatively charged discs located on the bottom of the ZIIP. So, for example, envision a battery where there is a positive and a negative end. The energy runs between the two polarizing ends and into whatever it’s in contact with giving it life; in this case, the skin. We have experienced over 500% growth in sales year-over-year.

Tracie Martyn Beauty

Tracie Martyn Beauty was co-founded by Marius Morariu and Tracie Martyn. The innovative visionaries are responsible for the New York City spa and skincare brand. Launching in 2000, they were ahead of market trends, merging technology, science, and a commitment to safe, natural formulations. They’ve cultivated a large, very loyal celebrity following and are perfectly positioned to capture the shifting consumer preference for clean beauty.

What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category?The brand has proof of concept and the know-how and experience to go after what is arguably the only white space left in the skincare category: truly effective, high-quality, yet 100% clean/safe/green. We define all-natural as using substances that are not foreign to nature and not made as byproducts of the petrochemical industry, so inclusive of vitamins, amino acids, fruit acids, and other natural cosmeceuticals as opposed to just organic botanicals. Our skincare is results focused, luxurious, and can go head-to-head with any prestige brand in the skincare category. Our proposition is to create a product that is so good even customers who don’t care about natural/organic buy it because it works. Think Tesla of skincare. Or BMWi, so I am not favoring one car brand. That barrier of entry is still high and it has to do with know-how, creativity, innovation, and experience, together with credibility and proof of concept, possibly our biggest asset.

What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand?Based on our proof of concept in the niche that we created described above, we have proven that we are anticipating trends and are innovators in our industry, and we can execute our revolutionary ideas to reach and please the most sophisticated, discriminating consumer. Given the fact we have done all of this with a very tight budget that came from our sales and not from investment (not even personal), we believe that with new funds from an investor, our existing relationships will have the “fuel” for the potential of the brand to come to fruition.

What would your ideal investor look like?Fit is extremely important in an investor. And because we are not talking about good or bad but rather a match, we don’t judge and compare investors and hope they won’t judge us, but rather sort for synergies and a common goal. Our only requirement is that they share our vision for educating consumers (so that they can beautify without taking a health risk) and recognize that we were pioneers in the field of wellness as it pertains to the beauty category. If they can help with more than money, brilliant, but the beauty is that we are blessed with the fact that once we have the funds, many doors will open as we already have excellent relationships in the industry as opposed to a startup.


trèStiQue was founded by two beauty industry veterans. The new indie brand launched just over two years ago with a mission to simplify how you use, apply, and carry makeup with their customizable makeup routine. trèStiQue was made to enhance the natural beauty of real women, on-the-go!

What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category?trèStiQue simplifies the everyday makeup routine with easy 2-in-1 products. Face, eye, & lip crayons in a portable makeup bag for a quick 5-minute face. 

What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand? Jack Bensason andJennifer Kapahi have over 25 years of combined beauty industry experience with know-how in supply chain, manufacturing, marketing, sales, product and package development. They have 100% custom-developed products with unique, universal formulas and the first-ever magnetic sealing crayon with a built-in tool system.  

What would your ideal investor look like? Founder friendly, beauty savvy, supportive, and creative minded.

Beauty Bakerie Cosmetics Brand

Beauty Bakerie Cosmetics Brand was launched in 2011 as a lifestyle cosmetics brand, built on the character and outlook of its founder and CEO, Cashmere Nicole, with the mission to be sweet and sweeten the lives of others.

What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category?Beauty Bakerie Cosmetics Brand is called the sweet life because we create and deliver convenient, worry-free formulas to our customers. Through our smudge-free formulas we are giving our customer back the moments that matter most.

What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand?Beauty Bakerie has a very dynamic executive team that understands the digital world as it relates to cosmetics specifically. Because the team is laser-focused on the customer journey, we’re in a great position to facilitate growth.

What would your ideal investor look like?Just before the Beauty & Money Summit, we landed our ideal investors. They believed in what we had created, believe in what we can become, and stood behind us without hesitation. We are excited to have them on board.


Aquis blends science and technology with effortless simplicity. Women are sharing their transformational stories of healthy and beautiful hair are what has fueled growth. Aquis has sold millions of hair towels solely by word of mouth.

What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category? We believe women invest too much time, effort, and money on their hair care and yet the outcomes are sub-optimal. Hair care ought to be simpler, faster, and more sustainable. We are engineering hair care solutions that protect the natural integrity of the hair and help it stay healthy. 

What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand? Our approach and unique technology can be a game changer in hair care. In addition, we have established a global network of top prestige beauty partners within 18 months. 

What would your ideal investor look like? We are seeking investors who bring nonlinear thinking to a problem and can help significantly scale up our digital marketing footprint. 

Nannette de Gaspé Beauté

Nannette de Gaspé Beauté is a revolutionary, luxury lifestyle beauty brand that brings innovative anti-aging, reparative, and restorative cosmetic solutions to the global market. The brand incorporates exclusive, breakthrough technologies and formulations in its collection of waterless face and body-infusing dry masks and other products, nourishing the skin with powerful active ingredients through a proprietary delivery system, introducing a new and disruptive approach to beauty. The promise: to provide women with an experience that is light to the touch and that can be used on their terms while achieving healthier, more youthful, soothed, and refreshed skin. 

What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category?Nannette de Gaspé delivers injection-grade, skincare technology to the luxury lifestyle beauty industry with its collection of beauty products that leaves the skin looking youthful and refreshed. The brand has introduced a new category in beauty, the dry mask, through a never-before-seen, completely waterless technology boasting an 87% concentration of active ingredients. Through its proprietary ingredient delivery system (BMVTM), which transports actives deeper into the skin and consequently allowing for a more pronounced result in less time, the brand was able to demonstrate a 39% visible reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, 170% improvement in hydration, and a 23% improvement in the skin brightness after only 4 days of use.

What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand?An investor should understand that as a small, indie brand we are a nimble and innovative company that created a new category in skincare through a revolutionary technology and that we will continue to innovate by introducing effective and sought-after products that fit within our brand architecture. NNTT is led by a very dynamic, creative and intelligent team that has come together with expertise from both the financial, retail, and brand sides of the business, hence combining a great track record in beauty retailing, branding, and merchandising with the rigorous financial acumen needed for a brand such as ours to succeed. 

What would your ideal investor look like? Our ideal investor would understand and embrace our vision and culture, while acting in a strategic capacity, bringing expertise, support, and networks, in addition to funding.


Scentbird is an online perfume discovery startup that’s disrupting how consumers shop for fragrance. The company was founded in fall 2014 by Mariya Nurislamova, Rachel ten Brink, Sergei Gusev, and Andrei Rebrov. 

What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category?Scentbird is often called the “Netflix for perfume” and represents a fundamentally new way of interacting with the fragrance category, built for the modern consumer. Scentbird is а digital scent recommender and a monthly subscription-based model that sends customers a 30-day supply of a designer fragrance of their choice in а unique refillable case.

What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand? Scentbird is one of the largest beauty-focused subscription businesses in the US and has tripled in size last year alone. Scentbird has a rapidly growing subscriber base of 180,000 scent lovers (both men and women) each paying $14.95/month for their subscription.

What would your ideal investor look like?Our ideal investor has a deep understanding of the e-commerce and subscription space, as well as a portfolio of consumer-facing startups with a proven track record.


AllWork’s freelancer management platform is the most efficient way for brands to find, manage, and pay their in-store freelancer talent. We help our clients maximize their sales revenue and return on their investment as it relates to in-store freelancer talent who are critical to driving sales.

What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category?We have the only end-to-end solution built specifically for the beauty industry. We have deep domain expertise and relationships that help us achieve scale quickly. We combine that with 15 years of technology and software development experience to deliver innovative software solutions to an industry that has been starved for the right technology built with their needs in mind.

What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand? Experienced management team who have successfully built large businesses from the ground up.

What would your ideal investor look like? Our ideal investor would understand how big a pain point we are solving for our clients and be able to add value through relationships in growing our client list and industry relationships.


OLIKA is a design-forward personal care company reimagining consumer staples, starting with hand sanitizer. Our first product is Birdie, an adorable 2-in-1 hand sanitizer with a natural sanitizing spray and dry wipes for additional cleaning power.

What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category?

  • With the hand sani market expecting to hit $2.9 billion by 2025, OLIKA turned an uninventive, boring product category on its head with a stylish beauty upgrade. We’re making hand sanitizer an enjoyable moment of personal care, perhaps for the first time ever.  
  • Following in the footsteps of other notable CPG companies, such as Method Products and EOS Products, OLIKA utilized minimalist packaging and better ingredients to create something truly special in personal care.
  • Birdie is an adorable bird-shaped bottle with 2-in-1 functionality: a controlled spray and dry wipes. Simply spray the sanitizing liquid onto a wipe housed in his base to create a fresh towelette on-the-go!
  • At OLIKA, we believe that hand sanitizer doesn’t need to look, act, or smell like hand sanitizer. Our bird’s sophisticated scent is a combination of natural, high-grade essential oils and soothing aloe vera, crafted to smell like a spa-on-the-go while protecting and hydrating the skin.

What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand?

(Our name OLIKA, means “differently” in Swedish. We take this to heart in how we build a brand and create consumer products…differently!  While we launched at the beginning of the year, our momentum and industry reception has been nothing short of amazing.

  • We are innovators with operational chops, which is a rare combination. For example, we researched, revised and tested more hand sanitizers than you can count before perfecting Birdie, because our consumers deserve a hand sanitizer crafted with the precision and loving care of your favorite fragrance or beauty product. We married the data we collected on hand sanitizer usage with imagination and whimsy to create a final product that goes far beyond just a formula update.
  • We are a brand with personality. We truly engage with consumers in an authentic and meaningful way as evidenced by our cheeky video series “Give ’em the bird,” which is a finalist for a Best Branded Integration in a Web Series award. Birdie doesn’t like to brag but he is up against industry titans like Scripps, A+E Networks, IFC, and Turner for the prize.

What would your ideal investor look like?

  • First and foremost, we are looking for partners who love the brand, our product(s), and our vision.
  • We would love to bring on additional investors who understand and appreciate that we are approaching personal care with a fresh, digital-first playbook. The manner in which consumers buy their goods, and learn about brands, continues to change and we are constantly testing new ways to stay ahead of that curve and exploit our advantage as a nimble startup.
  • Bonus: investors who are well connected, have invested in other innovative startups, and can share their in-the-trenches startup wisdom.

Other brands that participated in the quick-fire presentations were Pulp RiotDr. RoebucksDermaflash.

Mark your calendar: the Beauty & Money Summit is expanding and will become an annual event: London, March 2018; Los Angeles, April 2018; New York, September 2018.

The Red Tree is the UK’s leading international beauty brand consultancy and a powerhouse of ideas, insight and inspiration. For an informal discussion on how we might help you, please contact us.

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