Kristin Ess is building a $ 100 million hair product empire – WWD


Kristin Ess is on the verge of building a hair product empire.

The celebrity hairstylist launched her namesake brand, Kristin Ess Hair, exclusively with Target in January 2017. Two years later, the line, which was co-developed by Maesa, has gone from just 15 hair care and styling products. to heated tools, hair accessories. and, more recently, scalp care. This month, the brand will roll out in its first international markets: the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Mexico. Ess and Maesa declined to discuss sales figures, but industry sources predict the company will achieve nearly $ 100 million in retail sales in 2019.

The line, which is sold only at Target and on target.com in the United States, is now available on Well.ca in Canada and Feelunique.com in the United Kingdom. It is deployed in 350 Priceline doors in Australia, 35 Liverpool stores in Mexico, and will be launched in mid-February in 90 Sephora Mexico stores.

Kristin Ess Hair was the first celebrity or influencer developed hair care line to launch at Target, and so far the line has far exceeded expectations. At launch, it was expected to only achieve $ 5-10 million in sales in its first year on shelves.

Demand for the products is fueled by Ess’s loyal social media following – an early adapter to digital, Ess, who is known to work with equally savvy social media clients such as Lauren Conrad and Lucy Hale, founded tutorial site Thebeautydepartment.com, and now has 503,000 followers on Instagram.

“It has resonated with consumers at a level we never expected,” said David Hutchinson, senior vice president of Maesa Group. “It bridges the gap between the mass brands in the category and… the more expensive premium salon brands. There is nothing really in between when it comes to talking to consumers.

The brand’s minimalist aesthetic gives it an “affordable luxury” feel, Ess said, and word of mouth has also helped sales. “The sharing factor is really important,” Ess said. “I get a lot of people who say, ‘Oh, I introduced this to my mom or my friend. “”

Ess is heavily involved in product development, listening to its subscribers for ideas on what to develop next. Video tutorials and tutorials remain her specialty, and with each product launch, she shares her skills and the new product with her subscribers, whom she encourages to share their own videos. A product launched last year, the temporary shade Rose Gold, “far exceeded sales expectations” after Ess shared it with its subscribers, and even sold out momentarily.

“What sets us apart is really caring about the education part,” Ess said. “People tell me all the time, ‘Thank you for helping me style my hair at a later stage in my life.’ “

The brand, which now has nearly 40 storage units, has seen two major category extensions in recent months: heating tools and scalp care. Hot tools dropped off before the holidays and include eight stylers – curling irons, flat irons, and hairdryers – in sleek matte white and rose gold, ranging from $ 50 to $ 100. Scalp care is rolling out this month, including Purifying Micellar Shampoo, Detox Bubble Hair Mask, Daily Weightless Hydration Scalp and Hair Mask, Anytime Anywhere Scalp Plus Hair Milk Oil and the instant exfoliating scrub for the scalp. Prices range from $ 10 to $ 14.

As the brand expands internationally, Hutchinson said the plan is to remain exclusive to Target in the United States.