“Do what inspires you and find a void in the marketplace,” the co-founders of Kopari Beauty told us when we asked them to share some of their best advice for launching and growing a new beauty brand. Inspired by coconut oil’s plethora of benefits, Kiana Cabell and Gigi Goldman set out to create a lifestyle-beauty brand that filled a need in the marketplace for premium, coconut-oil based beauty products.
Launched in 2015, Kopari Beauty has been making waves in the industry. Though Cabell and Goldman admit that their initial investors were family and friends, Kopari Beauty has since attracted investors from Hollywood’s A-list and beyond.
We caught up with the two co-founders to learn more about the story behind Kopari Beauty and what’s next for the fast growing, data-driven brand.
ForceBrands: What inspired you to create Kopari Beauty and what makes it stand out from other brands that have capitalized on coconut’s beauty benefits?
Kiana Cabell and Gigi Goldman: Before we even had the idea for Kopari Beauty, our friends all thought we were coconut crazy. As female founders from two different generations, we connected over a shared obsession for coconut oil. We use coconut oil as a cure-all for everything — in our kitchens, on our kids, and for every beauty hack imaginable. Truth is, we are both so in love with coconut oil’s many benefits, and we felt everyone needed to know about it. Back when we started the brand, no other brands were taking advantage of coconut oil for beauty, so we saw an opportunity. At Kopari, we focus on the quality of the ingredients in delivering that luxury experience to our customers. Our small batch coconuts are hand-picked at peak quality, never exposed to extreme temperatures, and then carefully cold-pressed. All of our products are free of sulfates, parabens, silicones, phthalates, and cruelty, allowing us to be the first of our kind creating premium, coconut-oil based beauty products.
FB: Once you knew you had a great idea and an incredible product, where did you begin? How did you go about finding investors and how did you approach hiring for the team you needed to build the brand?
KC and GG: We both use coconut oil for everything in our lives (from cooking to beauty) and had mentioned our passion for the superfood and its untapped beauty category potential to James Brennan, health entrepreneur, co-founder of Suja Juice and now co-founder of Kopari. James brought us together — including Gigi’s husband, Bryce Goldman, CEO of Kopari — to create the industry’s first coconut-powered lifestyle-beauty brand. Our first investors were family and friends. It was such validation that they so strongly believed in the concept and our leadership. In the first year, we had experienced such tremendous success with our digital business that Sephora called us and we launched with them as well. We needed the funding to support our rapid growth, to hire an experienced team to drive our business, and for continued R&D innovation. We found the perfect partner in L Catterton, the largest consumer-focused private equity firm in the world. In addition, some of Hollywood’s most elite have joined this investment round, including Karlie Kloss, Shay Mitchell, Hilary Duff, Mila Kunis, and Ashton Kutcher.
FB: Who is your target audience and how have you been marketing to them?
KC and GG: Our target demographic is the millennial set, and all of our work — from marketing strategy to package development — has been dedicated to this audience. Since our launch in 2015 as a direct-to-consumer brand, we harnessed digital and social platforms to garner brand awareness and build a network of loyal customers and genuine brand fans. We talk to our consumers like you would talk to a friend and try to keep an authenticity in all of our language with consumers. We are also always transparent about ingredients in our products, as we know this is especially important to millennials. In fact, one of the launches we have planned for later this year grew from these conversation. We had the idea that we wanted to launch this new self-care product that really extends our offerings in that category, but we turned to our fans to nail down the specific flavors. They were a part of making our upcoming launch happen and that makes them feel special to know that we care about their opinion and work to develop what they actually want.
FB: If you could go back and do anything differently regarding building the brand, what would that be?
KC and GG: I don’t know that we would do anything differently because everything that we have done thus far has helped us garner tremendous success.
The beauty of being a startup is that we see our mistakes, pivot quickly, and are constantly innovating in our marketing strategy, content creation, and product innovation. We also see our successes and are able to quickly lean in.
We are a data-driven company which really helps guide a lot of our decisions. But we also take risks (like starting the company) The world is changing so quickly with technology that we are always trying to be one step ahead. The most important thing about our job is putting our customer first. And trying to see it from their perspective.
FB: Do you have any industry mentors who have been most helpful in guiding the direction of the brand?
KC and GG: Our partners have been our mentors. We each — including James and Bryce — bring unique backgrounds, perspectives and talents to the table. The four of us have collaborated to launch a lifestyle brand unlike any other on the market. It has allowed us to all learn from each other throughout this journey. We have also learned a lot from our L Catterton partners and John Heffner, CEO of Drybar, who sits on our board.
FB: What’s the best piece of advice you could give to someone looking to create a beauty brand of their own?
KC and GG: While you’ve likely never launched a brand before, don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Be opening to learning.
Hire people who know more than you do. Develop thick skin because it isn’t easy. In fact, it is one of the most challenging things you will ever do. Learn through your mistakes.
Those learning moments allow us to grow. As long as you pivot quickly and try not to make the same ones again, the next time you face that same scenario, you will be better for it. Do what inspires you and find a void in the marketplace.
FB: What excites you the most about the future of Kopari Beauty? Any exciting product innovations or new partnerships you could share?
KC and GG: We are so excited to continue to expand our personal care line, starting with new varieties of our Coconut Deodorant and another personal care launch: Coconut Toothpaste! We have even more exciting innovations across all of our lines in the rest of 2018 and into 2019.