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 with a reduced assortment of five inventory units. However, she is already thinking about the big picture.
“The vision for me from the beginning was the world of Rhode,” Bieber told WWD. “I see Rhode as more than a beauty brand, I see it more as a platform.”
Bieber is starting small with the launch of the brand, which includes a serum, moisturizer and three lip balms, with future product launches planned to expand the line.
All starter products are vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free, and priced under $30. Bieber designed the range to focus on the essentials. “My philosophy for the brand, and the ethos for me, is to make one of everything really good – it’s those staples that you keep coming back to. It’s also my philosophy when it comes to selecting my wardrobe: the perfect pair of jeans, that really good T-shirt,” he said.
Although his vision of Rhode was clear, he also knew his own limitations. “I have vision, I have ideas and I am creative, but I am not a chemist or a dermatologist,” she said. “The team has done a great job of dealing with my crazy midnight texts.”
To that end, Rhode has named cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson, founder and CEO of BeautyStat, as its resident chemist, with Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali serving as the brand’s dermatologist-in-residence.
Both had a heavy hand in formulating the product. “When we were developing the formulas, the labs said they were $100 formulas, but that’s exactly what we’re trying not to do,” Bieber said. “Expensive skincare formulas need to be affordable.”
He may not know a lab well, but Bieber was still very much into the process. “During the pandemic, I really immersed myself in the products and ingredients that I know and really love, and learned why they work so well,” he said. “It wouldn’t have made sense to me if I said I was launching with 14 liners. It is not my thing, they are products that I use daily.”
However, with that in mind, the brand is not limited to specific categories for expansion. “If I were to go the any color route, it would be very simple, like a tinted lip balm,” she said, adding that hair care could also eventually make sense. “I just wanted a brand that could take my aesthetic, my knowledge of ingredients that I love, and make it for everyone.”
That aesthetic has defined every step of building the brand, from its matte gray packaging to marketing. “The efficacy of the formula comes first, and then it comes down to the vibe, the aesthetics, the packaging, the bottles. It’s very curated, very edited, minimal, stripped back,” he said.
The brand is not following the traditionally aggressive go-to-market strategies that other famous brands have. On June 1, Kim Kardashian announced that his new brand, Skkn by Kim, would hit the market with nine units of inventory; Previously, Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs relaunched with plans to release more than 100 SKUs by 2022. The latter has also partnered with Sephora, but Bieber wants to own his vision — and his client — before exploring retail partnerships.
“I talked to a retailer early on and I just don’t want to be in a position where someone is telling me what to do with my vision. I have lent my name and face to many brands, and have spent my time doing that, and will continue to do so. But being my baby, I don’t want people coming in and telling me I have to do something. I want to be able to maintain as much creative control as I can,” she said.
Although Bieber said the route presented challenges, he wanted to be in the driver’s seat of the brand and start from scratch. “I chose the land route,” he said. “I am the majority owner of this brand, I put the majority [of the] money on this brand myself. There is no reason for you to take shortcuts. I won’t, and I didn’t with these products.”
Part of the brand’s communication strategy will include YouTube-oriented content on Bieber’s channel, which launched in 2020.
“We took a TV-quality approach to YouTube to make it a place where you could showcase your personality,” said Michael D. Ratner, Rhode’s founding partner and board member, who also oversees content production as founder, president and director. middle OBB executive. “But the beauty of how we approach it is that there is no over-planning. The YouTube channel is not going to magically become Rhode’s YouTube channel.”
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