Indie Beauty Brands to Watch – WWD

“I grew tired of the lack of quality products for my skin type,” said Stacey Pearl, an exhibitor at Cosmoprof North America in Las Vegas.

“To be considered an expert, whether it’s hair or makeup, it doesn’t include having expertise or even general knowledge for melanated skin. So, I took matters into my own hands.”

Born in the U.S., Pearl moved to Italy as a young woman to runway model. It’s there that she met a makeup artist who would introduce her to an engineer.

“From there, we went to a bordering town in France and started working with a laboratory and doctor to create something that was convenient, functional, and just made sense,” said the entrepreneur, who now resides in Paris.

The result is the Le Fix wand, a tool that removes the top layer of the skin and stimulates skin cell renewal.

“Natural dermabrasion,” explained Pearl. “It’s made with medical-grade crystal and blasted with diamond dust. We have two patented technologies on the surface.”

She offers it as part of a three-step system priced at $249, alongside Phyto Prep — a three-in-one botanical cleanser, makeup remover and exfoliator — and Hydra Fin — a daily moisturizer and hydrating mask.

“You’re able to give yourself a professional facial in under five minutes,” she said, testing the set on the hands of passersby. She applied the gel cleanser, made with fruit acids and chamomile, before using the Le Fix (“Let it soak in alcohol and rinse it or use a UV sanitizer,” she said of cleaning the tool.) After a gentle massage, she wiped off the gel with a cloth and water. She then added the moisturizer, made with azelaic acid.

“It’s a natural version of retinol,” she said of the compound. “Retinol can cause an adverse reaction in melanated skin.”

The skin is left exfoliated, moisturized, brighter and glowing. Along with the face, Le Fix can be used on the neck, décolletage and small body parts like the hands.

“We’re science and plant-based,” Pearl continued.

Launched two years ago, her namesake brand offers a variety of products for the face, hair and body, including a serum with 15 percent hyaluronic acid and an “Invisible Dry Sunscreen” with SPF 45. Made in France — in a region that has been specializing in plant-based practices since the 15th century, she said — Pearl has goods for consumers, as well as a more enhanced collection for professionals. She currently sells direct-to-consumer and recently partnered with Empower Global, an e-commerce site for Black-owned businesses that’s backed by Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Stacey Pearl

Stacey Pearl

Courtesy of Stacey Pearl

“We didn’t come to play,” said Pearl. “We came to disrupt the industry.”

She’s had a meeting with Thirteen Lune, the beauty company showcasing Black and brown-owned beauty brands. “And I’m looking for Neiman Marcus.”

Across the aisles, Sarah Biggers was looking out for another retailer.

“I would love to see our brand at Target,” said the founder of Clover by Clove + Hallow.

Her booth stood out as one of the few color cosmetics featured in the “Discover Green” section of the floor, dedicated to “clean” beauty.

Based in Atlanta, it was her third time at the trade show.

“While there are so many beauty brands coming into the market, there’s not that many that are doing clean and affordable,” she said of its point of difference.

Sarah Biggers, founder of Clover by Clove + Hallow.

Courtesy of Clover by Clove + Hallo

There’s also another major element setting it apart: the brand makes it known that they offer “dupes.”

“We are looking at luxury products on the market and thinking, ‘OK, how do we capture that same performance but make it better?’” she said. “We have a four-leaf clover strategy, which means we improve the ingredients to be clean, cruelty-free and vegan. We’re improving the sourcing and manufacturing to be in the U.S. We’re improving the packaging to be super sustainable, so we use 100 percent PCR, sugarcane bioplastic. Our lipstick is the world’s first mono-resin [plastic], fully recycled and fully recyclable lipstick tube — while keeping it all below $22. Our average price is around $16.”

Legally, how is she able to market “dupes”?

“We’re not misleading customers,” she continued. “We’re not pretending it’s the same product. We don’t market it as the same product. We don’t use the same color, same logo, the same componentry. So, it’s very clear that they are distinct products. And I think there’s a conversation around ethics with dupes, too. And for us, we have a few rules, you know, one of which is we don’t dupe other small brands, other indie brands because they don’t have the brand power. But also, there’s a mutually symbiotic and beneficial relationship with dupes. If we’re saying, ‘If you love,’ let’s just say for example, ‘Lancôme Hypnôse, you’re gonna love our Maxed Out Volumizing Mascara,’ it’s a good thing to the Lancôme Hypnôse mascara.”

The $14 Clover by Clove + Hallow Super Slick Lip Jelly.

Courtesy of Clover by Clove + Hallo

Her most repurchased item is the $14 Super Slick Lip Jelly, a juicy, non-sticky formula with sheer color that’s “inspired by Dior’s Addict Lip Glow Oil,” as the site notes. Other hero products are the $16 “Glow Stick Illuminator” (dupe for Chanel’s “Baume Essentiel”) and $18 “Pressed Silk Blushing Balm” (dupe for Makeup by Mario’s “Soft Pop Plumping Blush Veil”).

Launched in 2021 (“We had limited resources and focus behind the brand until about six months ago, though, so to us it feels like a six-month-old brand”), Clover by Clove + Hallow is sold at Rite Aid and is soon rolling out with HSN. It’s also found in about 30 spa boutiques and salons.

“What’s so interesting about Clover is the way that it can play high and low,” she said. “So, it looks very finished, very polished. The packaging is very high-end and cohesive, but it’s got that affordable price point. So higher-end retailers consider us as an impulse purchase and a mixed-match buy and drug and mass market stores are looking at us as the higher-end representation.”

Of her experience at Cosmoprof, she added: “If you’re looking for supplies, manufacturers, retail, you can get a nice amount of everything in one place. We are looking for primarily retail distribution.”

Brian Paternostro, who could be found in hair, was seeking suppliers and wholesalers to distribute his creation — the Qweeni cap — to salons and retailers.


“I’ve sold several thousand caps this year,” he said. “We’re looking to increase upon that as time goes by.”

The idea for the cap — a $45 shower cap with a frontal partition opening that’s able to snap close — was born four years ago.

“It was when my brother and his daughter were living with me,” he explained. “And so, my niece was fresh out of college and what she was doing, she liked to go to the gym in the afternoon and go out with her friends at night. But obviously she was compressed for time.”

She’s also allergic to dry shampoo.

“What she was doing is tying trash bags around her head and washing her hair in my kitchen sink,” he said. “After a while, I got tired of cleaning her hair in my sink. I said, ‘I want you to use a shower cap. She goes, ‘Well, I still gotta wash this hair,” he went on, of the front section — which was oily compared to the rest of her hair. “So we took some shower caps and started cutting holes in them, started pulling the hair through and the concept worked, and so then I took it to an engineer, and we started creating the concept.”

Essentially, it allows for people to wash the front of their hair, an area that’s oilier than the rest, he said, between full wash days. He’s targeting professional salons too, for those looking to protect hair extensions from getting wet.

“My original batch were made in Miami, but for growth and cost, I had to go to Bolivia,” he said of production. “My next batch I may have to go to Mexico for larger quantities. I’m exploring. I have an engineer who’s a fashion engineer. She’s helped me bring it to where it is today and she has sewing factories in all these places throughout Latin America.”

Based in Florida, it was his second year at Cosmoprof, after launching a year prior. Qweeni cap is currently sold in salons in New York City, Kansas City, Connecticut and Orlando.

“Last year, I got invited to meet with Target in the buyer’s lounge,” he said. “They told me, ‘Hey, we like the idea. We like the concept. We like everything about you. But you’re a brand-new startup. And if we were to issue a [purchase order] for 10,000 units, that would crush you.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you’re absolutely right.’ Since I’m bootlegging this whole project myself, I would not be able to handle that large order that quick. So, I’m choosing to grow organically and slowly. They said, ‘Come back when you’re ready.’”

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