07/19/2024

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It’s Rhode’s world and we all live in it.

Hailey Bieber launched her beauty brand Rhode directly on her website on June 15 and scaled back her inventory by five units. But she’s already thinking about the big picture.

“From the beginning my vision was the world of Rhode,” Bieber tells WWD. “I see Rhode not just as a beauty brand, but as a platform.”

Bieber started with the launch of the brand, which includes a serum, a moisturizer and three lip balms, and plans to launch products in the future to expand the product lineup.

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All of the initial products are vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free and priced under $30. Bieber designed the line with a focus on essentials. “My philosophy for the brand and for my ethos is to make everything really good – it’s those key products that you keep coming back to. That’s my philosophy when it comes to putting together my closet: a perfect pair of jeans, a really good T,” she says.

While her vision for Rhodes is clear, she is also aware of her limitations. “I’m visionary and thoughtful and creative, but I’m not a chemist or a dermatologist,” she says. “The team did a great job of handling my crazy midnight texts.”

To that end, Rhode hired Ron Robinson, founder and CEO of BeautyStat, as its resident chemist and Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali as the brand’s resident dermatologist.

Both figure prominently in the product’s formulation. “When we developed the formulations, the lab said they were $100 formulations, but that’s exactly what we’re trying not to do,” Bieber says. “You should be able to buy expensive skin care formulas.”

She may not be familiar with the lab, but Bieber is still highly involved in the process. “During the pandemic, she says, “I really delved into the products and ingredients that I knew and really loved and understood why they were so effective.” “If I said I was going to launch 14 eyeliners, it wouldn’t make sense to me. It’s not about me; these are products that I use every day.”

With that in mind, however, the brand isn’t limited to specific extension categories. “If I were to go down any color route, it would be very stripped down, just like tinted lip balm,” she says, adding that hair care could eventually make sense, too. “I just wanted a brand that could absorb my aesthetic, my knowledge of the ingredients I love, and make it for everyone.”

This aesthetic defines every step of branding, from matte gray packaging to marketing. “Formula efficacy is the number one priority, then the vibe, aesthetics, packaging and bottle. It’s carefully curated, well-edited, minimalist and streamlined,” she says.

The brand did not follow the traditional aggressive marketing strategy that other celebrity brands have. On June 1, Kim Kardashian announced that her new brand, Skkn by Kim, would be available in nine stock units; earlier, Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs relaunched with plans to launch more than 100 sku in 2022. the latter also partnered with Sephora, but Bieber wanted to own her vision and her customers before exploring retail partnerships .

“I talked to a retailer early on, I just didn’t want to be in a position where someone was telling me what to do with my vision. I’ve lent my name and face to a lot of brands, I’ve taken the time to do that, and I will continue to do that. But this is my baby, and I don’t want people coming in and telling me I have to do something. I want to keep as much creative control as I can,” she said.

While Bieber says there are challenges to that route, she wants to be the dominant player in the brand and start from scratch. “I chose to go the route of starting from scratch,” she says. “I’m the majority owner of the brand and I’ve put most of my own money into the brand. There’s no reason for me to cut corners. I won’t, and I’m not using these products.”

Part of the brand’s communications strategy will include a YouTube orientation with content available on the Bieber Channel, which will launch in 2020.

“We’ve taken a TV-quality approach to YouTube and made it a place where we can showcase her personality,” said Michael D. Ratner, Rhode’s founding partner and board member, who also oversees as founder, president and chief executive officer executive of the production of content OBB Media. “But the beauty of how we approach it is that there’s no overplanning. The YouTube channel doesn’t magically turn into the Rhodes YouTube channel.”

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