Irene Forte Skincare has secured a minority investment from L Catterton. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Founded by Irene Forte in 2018, the Mediterranean-inspired skin care line was developed for spas housed in the five-star Rocco Forte Hotels, owned by her father Sir Rocco Forte, to meet the demand for products that are both natural and backed by science.
When the pandemic hit and spas were forced to close their doors, Forte — who has been working on the brand, whose products are made in Italy, for close to a decade — turned to direct-to-consumer and retail.
The result of that move is that the vegan and B Corp-certified brand is currently available in selected stockists worldwide, including specialty retailers and department stores, such as Bluemercury, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Liberty London, Ludwig Beck, and Le Bon Marché, as well as Farfetch and Amazon Luxury among others.
Bestsellers include Pistachio Face Mask, $180; Hibiscus Serum, $215; Triple Level Hyaluronic Serum, $155, and Prickly Pear Face Cream, $195. But by far, Hibiscus Night Cream, $225, is the most popular product, making up 80 percent of sales, according to Forte.
The brand declined to provide sales figures, but told WWD it has experienced 100 percent growth, year-over-year. Industry sources believe the brand hit around $2 million in retail sales in 2022, with the U.S. market making up one-third of revenue.
“The business has done extremely well with 100 percent growth year-on-year, but it was never heavily funded,” said Forte of the decision to team up with L Catterton a few years after raising a seed round led by an angel investor.
“L Catterton’s support is instrumental in enabling us to compete with the super brands in our space, while influencing the industry’s standards and impact,” Forte added. “This is the beginning of a new and exciting journey, and is the culmination of a voyage of discovery that began whilst working in my family’s hotel business and fruitlessly looking for a skin care collection that was natural, but rooted in science.”
The partnership with L Catterton will focus its strategy on scaling the business and expanding the team in both the U.S., where it launched in 2021, and across Europe.
“Irene Forte Skincare is a highly distinctive brand that has quickly established a reputation for trailblazing sustainability in the beauty industry, while harnessing the power of natural ingredients and the highest standards of scientific research,” said Michael Farello, a managing partner in L Catterton’s Growth Fund. “We look forward to working with Irene and the team on long-term growth and carrying on their track record of fast-paced, industry-leading innovation.”
L Catterton’s current and past beauty investments include Tula, Merit, Oddity (parent company of Il Makiage), Bliss, Function of Beauty, The Honest Company, Elemis, Nutrafol, Intercos and Marubi.
Most recently the private equity firm made a “significant” growth investment in color cosmetics brand Dibs Beauty, launched in September 2021 by Tula Skincare founders Ken Landis and Dan Reich, with Austin, Texas-based influencer Courtney Shields and former chief operating officer of A-Rod Corp Jeff Lee.