PARIS – Gisou, the premium honey-based hair and beauty brand, closed a Series B financing round led by Eurazeo, through its Brands team, which took a minority stake in the company.
Eurazeo is entering the capital alongside Vaultier7, an existing minority investor, and the co-founders of Gisou, the beauty influencer Negin Mirsalehi and her partner Maurits Stibbe. The duo, who co-founded Gisou in 2015, will remain the majority shareholder.
The new financial support is intended to support Gisou’s growth plans by strengthening its digital and e-commerce capabilities, strengthening the brand and its community and expanding globally, including expanding the team in North America. North.
Netherlands-based Gisou is run by Stibbe and Mirsalehi, an Amsterdam native from a family of Iranian beekeepers.
Hair care – once the smallest of all product categories sold in high-end and specialty stores – is now among the fastest growing, posting double-digit gains and outpacing other segments of the beauty market.
Worldwide, prestige hair care sales increased by 13.6% between 2020 and 2021, reaching $14.84 billion. The previous year, revenue for the segment grew just 1.2%, according to market research provider Euromonitor International.
Meanwhile, Gisou has grown rapidly since early 2020, when Vaultier7 made a multimillion-dollar minority investment in the haircare startup, which began as a direct-to-consumer operation. It happened a month before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
It was a time of uncertainty for all businesses, but Gisou’s prestige hair care and business boomed, especially as people stayed home and salons closed.
Just before the pandemic, Gisou had also signed with Sephora to open in North America.
“Instantly we had to figure out how to do this launch because the supply chain was really suffering,” Stibbe said.
The debut with Sephora began online, and industry sources say it was one of the best haircare launches for the retailer.
“From there, we also saw the potential for wholesale next to our store on D-to-C,” Stibbe continued.
Next stops included Sephora in the Middle East, Mecca in Australia and Selfridges in the UK. Meanwhile, Gisou’s growth continued to accelerate.
“We’ve really started thinking if we continue to grow at this rate we’re going to need a second [funding] tour – but also a different kind of partner,” Stibbe said.
“We weren’t just looking for a fund, we were looking for the right partner,” Mirsalehi said. “We are very protective of everything we build; it is our heritage story. We also had to find the right partner that was aligned with how we brand Gisou, the love we put into it, and the long term – in regards to our vision, sustainability, and bees. We have found the right partner for this.
“[Eurazeo] allows us to take a long-term view,” agreed Stibbe. “What we also appreciate is the global presence and deep expertise of their support teams. For example, we’re really getting to the bottom of building an autonomous American team, and because Eurazeo has a good presence in North America, that allows us to [do that].”
For Eurazeo, the rapprochement with Gisou was natural.
“We are there to be partners of entrepreneurs who want to build new brands with new forms of offer, experience and community,” explains Laurent Droin, CEO of Eurazeo Brands. “We obviously want to build these brands not just in the short term, but to make them sustainable in every way. [including, importantly] that they will be there in five, 10 years. This is really our mission.
Droin called Gisou “a true story – I actually think it should be told even louder”.
“There is a very modern approach to naturalness, transparency,” he continued. “And there is a lot to do there. Gisou is something that really touches the consumer today. Digital isn’t an end, it’s a tool they use.
“Gisou is not another influencer brand,” Droin said, referring to Mirsalehi’s early days as an online influencer and fashion ambassador. “It’s a family story that is revealed through Negin’s public persona and her passion for beauty.”
He described Gisou as a “true brand that makes sense” and which corresponds to Eurazeo’s ambition on the ESG front, particularly in terms of the environment.
Partnerships are about fit, Droin said, adding that in Mirsalehi and Stibbe, Eurazeo has found people with real ambition to tell a story and build a brand with impact, while being grounded in meaning. acute business.
Last year, Gisou’s team proved they were capable of being a bee-based beauty brand, and not just a bee-based hair care brand. It is launching “complexion” products: Face Oil with honey then Lip Oil on its own site, Gisou.com, to reiterate the success of stock-outs.
The brand’s best-selling Gisou Honey Infused Hair Oil was originally developed by Mirsalehi’s mother, who made it at home and used it on all the hair in the family.
“After the investment, we will also deepen the complexion category, develop more products outside the hair care category to [give] our community all we have to offer around bee-based beauty,” said Stibbe. This could include body care, for example.
Another focus will be on strengthening Gisou’s d-to-c business.
“At our core, we are still a d-to-c brand – the way we communicate with our community through social media and our website,” Mirsalehi said. “It’s in our DNA. I think that’s also why every time we go to another retailer, it’s been such a hit.
Extensive community building work is done via digital, where industry sources say Gisou garners a much higher average engagement rate than other beauty brands.
“It’s something we want to continue to invest in – the direct relationship with our community,” Stibbe said.
Also on the program, the reinforcement of the senior team of Gisou.
For Eurazeo, the priority is to create an ecosystem around Mirsalehi and Stibbe “to help them think about the short term, the medium term and the long term,” said Droin.
Gisou is reportedly on track to meet the long-held sales target of crossing the €100m mark by the end of 2023. But executives say the focus is by no means purely financial.
“It’s about remaining a desirable brand,” Mirsalehi said, explaining that as Gisou evolves, it’s essential to retain the ethos of a small family business. “We are definitely able to do that, because there are so many families involved. So it will always feel small, in a way.
The focus is on special projects. Coming soon, a Gisou pop-up – a bee/honey museum with education around bees – in Amsterdam in May to celebrate the start of bee season.
“One of our priorities is also to raise awareness about bees,” Mirsalehi said. Activations are planned, for example, to raise awareness of the importance of supporting urban beekeepers.
Gisou in the first quarter of this year was launched in the European Union, mainly in France, Spain, Italy and Turkey. In the region, including the UK, it has 179 gates.
North America generates half of the brand’s business. There, there are 475 Sephora doors and 400 Sephora at Kohl’s doors. In the Middle East, there are 58 outlets and Gisou is sold in 85 Mecca Cosmetica outposts in Australia and New Zealand.
Gisou’s sales are fairly evenly split between d-to-c and brick-and-mortar.
“We want this to continue,” Stibbe said. “It’s really important to have this direct relationship with the customer, because then you can learn a lot more about what they really want, how they perceive the product, how we can improve the experience. Also, what kind of products we want to launch in the future.
“There is still so much to do and to share,” Mirsalehi said. “There is so much potential.”
To learn more, see:
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