Personal Tragedy, Podcasts And Plant-Based Skincare Put Alitura Naturals On A Course To Launch At CAP Beauty
CAP Beauty is putting Alitura Naturals into its wide-ranging natural beauty and wellness selection, the latest win for the skincare brand in a string of triumphs over the initial tragedy that brought it to life.
That tragedy occurred in March 2011, when founder Andy Hnilo, a former model and college athlete, was hit by a car while crossing the street. “I woke up with a broken jaw, seven broken ribs and a collapsed lung, and I was very lucky to be alive,” he recalls. He was lucky to be alive, but he wasn’t the same. He was wounded and unhappy that the appearance he previously counted on to make his living wasn’t the same.
Hnilo didn’t succumb to the circumstances. He became fascinated with the idea of using plant ingredients to heal his scars and began mixing them together to see if he could achieve results. “I wanted to remove the impurities and exfoliate my skin, and really get a lot of circulation and blood flow to reduce the swelling and scarring,” says Hnilo. “Day by day, it became this meal I was treating my skin to.” Alitura Naturals is named for a Latin word meaning feeding and nourishing.
People around Hnilo noticed changes in his skin. He started fielding requests for his skincare remedy, and doling out his homemade clay mask containing Moroccan Rhassoul clay, freshwater pearl powder and American ginseng to friends in Los Angeles. Hnilo’s skincare project was a hobby until a fortuitous mention on Dave Asprey’s podcast Bulletproof radio in 2014 turned it into a business. He didn’t even have a website at the time, but Asprey decided to invest in Alitura Naturals once he heard Hnilo talk about its mask.
Bulletproof isn’t the only podcast that’s played a critical role in the brand’s trajectory, which isn’t happenstance because podcasts have been a big part of Alitura Naturals’ marketing strategy, and key vehicles for connecting the brand with influencers, retailers and other partners. Katie Hughes, head of brand development for CAP Beauty, first caught wind of Alitura Naturals when Hnilo was on Luke Storey’s The Life Stylist Podcast.
Hnilo’s accident-to-accidental skincare entrepreneur tale made an impact on Hughes. She “was blown away by his story. Around the same time, a CAP team member mentioned that they’d fallen in love with the line, so knew we had to test it further for the store,” says Hughes. “Several of us tested the products and saw amazing results. We are really strict about what ingredients we carry, and Alitura is meticulous about using only 100% natural ingredients.”
CAP Beauty marks Alitura Naturals’ debut at brick-and-mortar retail. To date, the brand has made plenty of progress without a presence in physical stores. Hnilo discloses it’s stretched to 76 countries, registered triple-digit growth yearly and generated more than $2 million in annual sales. For 2018, he forecasts the brand will reach $5 million in revenues.
“We’re well over tripling our numbers from 2017, and we’re not even done with the first quarter. We’re just getting started,” says Hnilo. Looking forward to the rest of the year, he notes a fragrance launch anticipated for June could be a significant sales driver. Currently, Alitura Naturals’ hero products are its Gold Serum, Clay Mask and Night Cream.
Hnilo’s retail ambitions aren’t satisfied with the leap into CAP Beauty. “Online sales have been about 99.5% of our revenue, and we’re seeking to optimize both retail and online,” he says. “We’ll have a couple more additions. I see us in Barneys and Nordstrom.”
For CAP Beauty, Hughes points out Alitura Naturals’ unisex positioning is compelling as is Hnilo’s leadership role at the brand. He helps raise awareness about the importance and effect of skincare for men, although Hnilo notes 55% of the brand’s customer database is women. Hughes says, “We are finding that more and more men are shopping at CAP, and are looking for products that speak to them.”