Consumers everywhere are searching for sustainable and clean products. From plant-based food and natural dish soap to reusable face wipes and metal straws, the demand for alternatives to disposable and wasteful products is growing. One industry that has failed to keep up with this demand is makeup — there has been a major lack of natural-based makeup products that are as effective as their synthesized counterparts. Enter Aether Beauty.
Aether Beauty is looking to disrupt the makeup status quo with its recyclable packaging and natural formulas. We interviewed founder and CEO Tiila Abbitt and learned about how her years at Sephora put her on the path to starting Aether Beauty.
Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
Disrupting the $500B Beauty Industry with clean + sustainable makeup that works, founded by a former Sephora Product Developer.
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
While working for Sephora, I found that the clean beauty section was about 10 years behind conventional beauty products as far as efficiency and innovation. Both spaces lacked completely in terms of ethical sourcing and sustainability. So I saw the hole in the market for clean and sustainable makeup that could compete with conventional, as far as performance. I saw that the majority of clean beauty founders did not come from the beauty industry, let alone product development, but started brands because they got pregnant or had a skin issue and started peeling away the onion so to speak. But I had more than 7+ years of working with some of the best chemists and knowing specifically what the Sephora client looks for — and how to make it for her. And Aether Beauty has won more than 11 awards (and counting) to prove it!
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
I was the former head of product development for Sephora for more than 7+ years and then became the head of research and sustainability for the global retailer. I won more than 30 awards for products I developed while I worked for Sephora. I eloped to shape the sustainability guidelines for the retailer. I made many connections and long lasting relationships as far as manufacturers, suppliers, and retailer partners go. In fact, we have Net 90 terms after delivery for payment to my manufacturers because of my relationships with them, which is completely unheard of in the industry.
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
Currently the beauty industry is responsible for more than a third of the landfill waste with more than 120 billion single use products produced annually. It’s one of the biggest contributors to child labor with mica and sugarcane and needs to be cleaned up. The FDA has only banned 33 ingredients in beauty, and the last time that was updated was in 1938. Since then there have been more than 16,000 ingredients used in makeup alone. Aether Beauty has already been leading the way for change. We partner with Sephora, Ulta, IPSY, Credo, and The Detox Market, just to name a few to help them with their sustainability initiatives. We even launched the first zero waste eyeshadow palette in the industry and the first 100% recycled liquid lip!
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
Donna Lopez, who was the former VP at Boxy Charm, oversees digital marketing — we met through industry connections. Alex Bidar, former marketing manager for Roen, another clean beauty brand and Catalina Mellado, former buyer for Boxy Charm.
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
Aether Beauty is the next iteration of clean: Blue Beauty, which takes the environment into consideration of biodegradable ingredients, ethical sourcing and sustainable packaging and business practices.There are no other makeup brands in the Blue Beauty space right now, and our competitors in the clean beauty space, like Kosas, Ilia, and Tower 28, are not Blue Beauty brands. We are also a B-Corp, partner with 1% For the Planet, offer carbon neutral shipping and have a reusable shipping box system. Our shipping boxes can be reused more than 100 times! By doing so, we have reduced our own carbon footprint by more than 75%!
What does your business model look like?
We are an omnichannel brand, with more than 90 retailers including Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Free People, Anthropologie, Douglas, Credo Beauty, The Detox Market, ect and have a robust DTC channel, which makes up more than 35% of our business and growing.
How much have you raised in the past funding rounds? when will you turn cash flow positive?
Aether Beauty has been self-funded since day one and built this brand on $100k personally. We are cash flow positive for 2021 by more than $400k.
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
My clients have been the ones that have helped to support and grow my brand, so I felt it was only right to give them an opportunity to invest in the brand they believe in. Crowdfunding seemed like the only fair option. We intend to use the money for sampling with boxes, (we have data that shows that once clients try the formulas they come back and buy everything, which is unheard of in beauty), hiring three new employees, purchasing inventory to keep up with demand as well as fund our digital marketing strategy.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
If I can build a multimillion dollar company on $100k, imagine what I can do with real dollars behind the brand. We are currently over $2 million in net sales already for 2021.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
The beauty industry is full of acquisitions from the larger conglomerates of Estee Lauder, LVMH, P&G, ect. We would be looking for the right acquisition, and since we are already a leader in sustainable beauty, we plan on growing the brand to be a full 40-50 sku brand.
We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Tiila and her team take the company. Aether Beauty is currently raising on Republic.