Ceramiracle Appoints Former P&G And Coty Exec Derek Bowen President As It Builds Its Global Presence
Since Ceramiracle launched in 2016, creator Eugene He had been looking for an executive to join his inside-out skincare brand that has extensive experience in beauty products and supplements, and a willingness to work for a startup. He finally identified his ideal candidate in Derek Bowen, who’s been named president after holding marketing and brand management positions at UCAN, The Nature’s Bounty Co., Coty, Henkel, Alberto Culver and Procter & Gamble.
“I didn’t come to the beauty industry from business school. I didn’t go through an accelerator. I bootstrapped the business. My strength is in doing formulations, product development and education,” says He. “I had to learn everything from marketing to sales to logistics, and I knew that I would need to hire someone with the expertise to scale to the business in a way that increases and protects brand equity, and prepares Ceramiracle to be a global brand.”
Bowen was intrigued by Ceramiracle’s success in crossing the topical and ingestible categories. While there are plenty of brands that concentrate on selling beauty supplements (e.g., Hum Nutrition, WelleCo, The Beauty Chef and Glotrition) or that dabble in supplements as a side venture to their core skincare enterprises (see Perricone MD, Murad, Caudalie and Dr. Barbara Sturm), there are few substantially fueling sales by pairing pills or powders with classic skincare products. Today, supplements account for a majority of nine-product Ceramiracle’s sales. First Light Ceramides Skin Supplement is its bestseller, and the serum First Light is its bestselling topical product.
“In the supplements world, it’s very much about price. In the beauty space, it’s not so much about pricing. It’s about understanding your consumer and connecting with them better than your competition. I find that a really interesting challenge,” says Bowen. “The business model of Ceramiracle is really one of its points of difference, and you have a wonderful founder story with Eugene that translates well to the consumers. From a competitor standpoint, most people we are competing with are in traditional skincare or supplements. They are not in both.”
“I knew that I would need to hire someone with the expertise to scale to the business in a way that increases and protects brand equity, and prepares Ceramiracle to be a global brand.”
A clinical naturopath, the marrying of external and internal health to boost beauty outcomes came naturally to He. Enmeshed in developing formulas, he was inspired by vernix caseosa, the waxy coating covering newborns’ skin, to concoct the phytosqualane-driven serum First Light, the product that sparked Ceramiracle. He designs formulas to be suitable for various skin types and tones, and climates. The inclusive approach has paid off with Ceramiracle drawing a strong following of Asian and Hispanic consumers. Its audience is predominantly 18- to 34-years-old, younger than 25- to 45-year-old age range He anticipated upon Ceramiracle’s debut.
The brand’s Asian following prompted it to expand to Asia early on. In its second year on the market, it secured a distributor in Hong Kong that sold out of Ceramiracle inventory within a month and, by the end of its initial year selling the brand’s products, exceeded its sales forecast for them by 7X. The same year, Ceramiracle hit $1 million in sales. Its revenues have been increasing 200% to 300% annually, according to He.
Last year, Ceramiracle entered China via WeChat and, this year, it premiered on Tmall. The cruelty-free brand has gone the cross-border route to get its products to Chinese customers to steer clear of animal-testing requirements. Ceramiracle is also available at select retailers in Asia, including Mi Ming Mart in Hong Kong and Robinsons in Singapore. Previously, it had a pop-up combination of a spa and café implemented by a Malaysian distributor, but He says similar pop-up concepts aren’t expected in the near term.
“From a competitor standpoint, most people we are competing with are in traditional skincare or supplements. They are not in both.”
Ceramiracle ships products ordered on its website to 30 countries from the United States. The brand aims to extend its reach to Europe and South America, and will pin down distributors in nations where it makes sense to have boots on the ground to sort through local particularities. In the U.S., Ceramiracle’s distribution goal is to land deals with beauty specialty retailers. Ultimately, Bowen says its objective is for sales to be evenly split between the U.S. and international sources. Bowen is based in New York, and Ceramiracle is opening an office in the city to complement its offices in Santa Monica, Calif., and Singapore.
The new president’s immediate tasks are to grow Ceramiracle’s e-commerce, strike advantageous partnerships, introduce updated product packaging and fundraise. Asked about the pitch Ceramiracle is giving to investors, Bowen says the brand’s diverse demographics make it a compelling proposition. He adds that the ingestible element of Ceramiracle’s business causes big basket sizes and fast repeat purchase rates relative to industry standards. Customers will buy either a topical product or an ingestible product, and often return to pick up a product in the opposite category to deepen their connection with Ceramiracle.
He is priming Ceramiracle’s product pipeline. The brand recently unveiled Ageless Delight Beauty Chocolate. “I’m really focused on bridging the gap between food and beauty,” says He. “I’m looking at common things we consume daily and how I can tweak those things with a beauty angle. I’m looking at not only food, but other things we use in our daily lives.”