Emerging Brand Curie Undergoes A Refresh To Realize Its Ambitions Of Becoming A Personal Care Power Player
When indie beauty entrepreneurs launch a business, it’s often with their needs in mind. When they grow that business, it becomes about the needs of others.
Curie hit the market in May last year with a natural deodorant founder Sarah Moret developed to stand up to her hectic schedule working at a biotech startup while creating a brand in her off-hours, and squeezing in sleep and exercise during spare moments. Suiting her preferences, the deodorant had a fresh floral white tea scent and feminine aesthetic. Over the last nine months, Moret’s been gathering feedback from hundreds of Curie’s loyal customers on their preferences—and has refined the brand to combine those with her ideas.
Curie has shifted from its original pink marble design to gender-neutral graphic green, orange, pink and white packaging featuring a wave pattern representing motion. “For humans in motion” is the brand’s new motto. The updated look speaks to its customers, an active bunch that’s hiking, biking and running marathons as well as climbing the corporate ladder, chasing professional dreams and taking care of kids, including the roughly 15% of them that are men. The scent lineup has expanded from one to three options with the introductions of grapefruit and orange neroli.
“The customer feedback is something I didn’t have before and, now that we do, I thought it was time to refresh, and make it more inclusive and representative of who our customers are,” says Moret, continuing, “I’m calling it Curie 2.0. Curie 2.0 is our evolution from this side hustle deodorant brand that I started in my apartment to a full-on personal care brand that’s going to take us to the next five years, 10 years and beyond.”
Curie’s results so far boosted Moret’s confidence to tee up the brand for a grander future. At the outset, her goal was to attract 1,000 repeat customers and, by the end of last year, Curie had far exceeded that goal. Its repeat purchase rate registered in at 38%. From the end of last year to the present, Curie’s sales tripled—and Moret sees no signs that sales will slow.
“Curie 2.0 is our evolution from this side hustle deodorant brand that I started in my apartment to a full-on personal care brand that’s going to take us to the next five years, 10 years and beyond.”
In the upcoming year to two years, Moret’s goal is to broaden Curie’s distribution beyond the direct-to-consumer model that it began with by placing the brand in one to two major retailers. She also wants to interject Curie into places that its customers frequent like fitness studies and co-working spaces. Online, Curie is doubling down on its direct-to-consumer efforts via subscription, which it implemented three months ago, and text message replenishment capabilities that will roll out soon.
The brand aims to amplify digital content, particularly as it relates to switching to aluminum-free deodorant from traditional aluminum deodorant. Curie’s most popular blog post delves into the transition. Moret finds its customers discover the brand on the hunt for healthy products, but many have relied on traditional deodorants prior to trying it. About 25% of Curie’s web traffic comes from social media, where its approach is personal and unpolished. “I’m not trying to think of witty captions,” says Moret. “I’m just sharing my life and hoping that my customers can be inspired by what I’m doing.”
On its website, Curie’s pack of three deodorants in different scents is the bestseller. It’s priced at $33 for a single purchase or $29.70 on subscription. White tea is the bestselling individual scent. The deodorants are priced at $12 each or $10.80 on subscription. The scent extensions give Curie the “opportunity to cater to people’s specific tastes,” says Moret. “My hope is that, over the next five years, we will evolve the product line, and these signature scents will stay with us.” The brand’s first non-deodorant product is scheduled for release within a year.
Moret, formerly an investment associate at Crosscut Ventures, and finance and operations manager at Formation 8, left her full-time biotech startup job late last year to commit to Curie. Shortly thereafter, the brand raised funds from friends, family members and seed-stage venture capital firm Precursor Ventures. Moret shares the round amounted to “a couple hundred thousand dollars.” She elaborates, “I didn’t want to raise a big round of venture capital financing. I wanted to raise enough money to be able to add fuel to the fire without the pressure to take the business somewhere I didn’t want it to go.”
“I’m playing the long game. I’m not building this to quickly sell it.”
Moret has used the money to pay herself and her sister Margot Devilliers, Curie’s operations manager, salaries and beef up the brand’s support staff. A profitable enterprise, Moret runs Curie leanly. She explains her objective is to “operate a financially-sound business and not pour money into channels that aren’t going to help us grow. So, I’m being very strategic.” However, she says, “A good entrepreneur balances that with taking risks for growth that you might not see a return on for a couple of months. That’s the challenge of operating and determining your cash needs. It’s been a learning lesson. When I was on the investing side, I understood it, but, on the operational side, it can be challenging and scary.”
The scary aspect of being an entrepreneur reared its head in August. Due to unexpectedly high demand and manufacturing delays, Curie’s inventory of full-size deodorant sticks was wiped clean. Moret worried that people might move away from Curie because they couldn’t get it. To stop that from happening, she and Devilliers hatched a plan to offer two mini-sized deodorants for only the cost of shipping and handling. Within 45 minutes, Curie racked up 200 orders. It was eventually freed of 2,000 mini-sized deodorants, and 60% of the customers snapping them up hadn’t bought from Curie before.
Moret’s knack for turning a problem into an advantageous customer acquisition event bodes well for her brand. She’s not shy about the bold ambitions she has for it. “My vision for Curie is to create this into a personal care revolution where we expand outside of natural deodorants into clean and effective personal care products for humans in motion. I want to power them in whatever they are pursuing in their lives,” says Moret. “I’m playing the long game. I’m not building this to quickly sell it.”
Feature image photo credit: Ashley Batz