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Beauty brand Julep Beauty is breaking ground in product innovation using the power of new e-commerce platforms and social tools in place of traditional marketing. Julep announced it has raised $10.3 million in a Series B round of financing led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz with participation from returning investor Maveron, another venture capital firm. Existing investors also include Troy Carter and Precedent Investments, Western Technology Investments and Version One Ventures.
“I started Julep out of a passion for connecting with my sisters and girlfriends through beauty,” says Jane Park, Julep Beauty's CEO and founder. “For me, beauty is about connection, not competition. So my vision is to bring a new social approach to the beauty industry by having a two-way conversation online with our fans, incorporating their ideas directly into our rapid product innovation cycle.”
Park, a former Starbucks executive, has grown Julep as a multichannel beauty brand fueled by digital and social media. Unparalleled innovation and speed-to-market, coupled with vocal social media engagement instead of traditional marketing, have enabled the brand to produce a multitude of products in an 18-month span. The brand’s popular Julep Mavens program is a monthly beauty subscription service that allows consumers to engage directly through new product trial and online discussions.
Park uses the power of e-commerce platforms, big data and social tools to accelerate the growth of the Julep brand. “We don’t have to spend millions of dollars launching a new product—our social media girlfriends are highly engaged consumers who help us get the word out,” says Park. In the last year and a half, Julep has launched 52 new beauty products including mascaras, lip glosses and glycolic scrubs, and 186 nail colors. The number of products launched each month is partially enabled by its marketing blueprint: the freedom to operate without the limits of physical shelf space.
This round of Series B financing will help further propel Julep in the beauty space, with innovative launches into the major categories of skin care and color cosmetics already planned for 2013 and 2014.
“Jane, Kate [MacDonald, Julep’s chief experience officer and COO] and team have leveraged the Internet to build Julep into a compelling brand at a pace previously unheard of in beauty,” said Jeff Jordan, partner, Andreessen Horowitz. “We are delighted to be leading this round of financing that will give the company the resources to continue their impressive traction.”
“As direct TV proved to be a launching pad for enduring beauty brands decades ago, we believe new social media channels will be the catalyst for launching the next great multichannel beauty companies,” says Maveron board member Jason Stoffer, who led Julep’s first institutional round of financing. “Julep is a pioneer in using Facebook, Pinterest and the social web to deeply engage its community of beauty lovers around color and fashion forward beauty products.”