From MAC To MOB: Victor Casale And A Cadre Of Beauty Veterans Are Out To Disrupt Makeup Again
Victor Casale has unfinished business.
“It is too early to leave this industry. We need to leave it a better place,” says the 55-year-old former chief chemist and managing director of MAC, and co-founder and chief innovation officer of Cover FX.
Casale, along with Alisha Gallagher, ex-SVP at Cover FX and Briogeo, Steve Blanchet, previously president and owner of CSR Cosmetics Solutions, and Beatrice Seguin, a pharmaceutical scientist formerly of CSR, launched MOB Beauty last month.
The vegan, cruelty-free direct-to-consumer brand features primary packaging that’s refillable and recyclable. The secondary packaging is compostable. Its formulas were developed in MOB’s own labs. The initial products are blush, eyeshadow, bronzer, cream lipstick, highlighter, lip balm and cake liner.
Consumers can personalize the products by selecting items to put in palettes ensconced in refillable holders. Prices range primarily from $18 to $25. However, a one-time refillable lipstick capsule is priced at $5, and the refillable palettes start at $30.
The practice of selling the packaging separately is part of a homegrown system MOB calls Earth First. “We couldn’t find suppliers who could meet our criteria, so we created our own,” says Gallagher, who gained valuable makeup expertise during almost a decade at Laura Mercier prior to her roles at Cover FX and Briogeo.
MOB’s packaging is made from PET or polyethylene terephthalate resin with at least 50% post-consumer recycled content. The brand is on a mission to eventually hit 100% PCR for packaging across its merchandise lineup. A chart on the its website lists the percentages of post-consumer recycled materials in its components.
“We are not here to greenwash. We are here to do better. We’re never going to launch a product without a sustainable solution,” says Gallagher, acknowledging MOB’s commitment to sustainability could prevent it from jumping on hot trends.
The customizable aspect is key to boosting usage. “We never sell pre-made palettes because it isn’t likely we would pick all the shades a consumer wants,” says Gallagher. “We want them to thoughtfully buy only what they are going to use up.”
Admitting the customizable palette concept has been tried before, Casale believes consumers are more willing to accept the ecologically friendly format now. In fact, although the initial items are in makeup, he wants to replicate the business model in related industries.
“We are not here to greenwash. We are here to do better.”
“Does the world need another makeup line? I don’t want to make another eyeshadow or lipstick,” says Casale. “I want to make a better lipstick that is made in a better way, sold in a better way and discarded and reused in a better way.”
Clean and sustainable beauty isn’t new to Casale. He cites his involvement in MAC’s Back to MAC recycling program initiated over 30 years ago and clean formulas he introduced at Cover FX. Casale points out MAC’s recycling program kicked off before a lot of towns had municipal recycling capabilities. He says many retailers “thought we were insane.”
Gallagher notes Casale was working without talc and gluten back in 2012. “The concept of clean didn’t even exist then,” she says. “We called it healthy formulas. Creating clean, cruelty-free, vegan and sustainable has been baked into Vic’s existence.”
MOB’s co-founders don’t simply want to serve emerging consumer demand for clean formulas. They want to change their mindsets around packaging, particularly the notion that excess packaging equates to luxury and that tubes can be merely discarded when they’re empty. “We’re not used to reusing,” says Casale. He hopes shaving products—where blades are replaced, but handles retaine—can provide an example for the industry.
Casale is the latest beauty titan returning to brand building after selling a brand to a corporate giant. The growing group includes Bobbi Brown, whose current ventures are Evolution_18 and Jones Road, and The Art of Shaving co-founders Myriam and Eric Malka, the married couple spearheading organic skincare brand Ingredients.
Entrepreneurs with deep pockets aren’t always warmly welcomed by indie beauty brands. Svetlana Zakharevich, founder of Gressa Skin, was especially vocal in an Instagram Live post about the debut of MOB. She encouraged content creators and consumers to look deeply into the funders and founders behind brands.
“We want to raise the tide on sustainability so everyone can rise with us.”
Aware of anonymous beauty industry watchdog Estée Laundry sharing Zakharevich’s post via its Instagram account, Casale and Gallagher didn’t respond directly to Zahkarevich’s comments, but maintained that what they’re doing will help pave the way for emerging companies. Gallagher says, “We are here for the right reasons.”
Casale says, “We could have taken an easy path, but our goal is not to be a disadvantage to someone, but we want to raise the tide on sustainability so everyone can rise with us.”
The co-founders mention their contacts and experience have convinced suppliers to be receptive to sustainable options. “Our lipstick tubes alone are materials never used before,” says Gallagher. “Now, the door is open for the next indie brands to come in and use it, too.” The lipstick packaging contains PCR content from beverage bottles.
She adds, “Launching a clean and vegan line is like baking a cake when you can’t eat flour, eggs and butter. We still find ourselves facing insurmountable challenges. Everything is harder or more expensive, but we believe we can take it on.”
The downturn in makeup spending doesn’t deter MOB. “Our mission is to reshape the industry. It is like the stock market. We’re in for the long haul,” says Casale. “And people don’t need to buy palette on palette on palette. We are encouraging full consumption before buying something else.”
The DTC model is important for MOB’s launch, its co-founders assert, because it keeps the brand close to consumers and allows it to be nimble with introducing technologies or improvements in sustainability. MOB has established a partnership to give back to communities in need with #Hashtaglunchbag, which views bagged lunches with positive messages as a vessel to spread the love.
On top of MOB, Casale is involved in Pure Culture Beauty, a personalized skincare line inspired by 23andme genetic test kits that he co-founded with Joy Chen, former CEO of Yes To and H20+. “I’m crazy,” jokes Casale. “But really I felt compelled to work on it because, like MOB, I see an opportunity to reshape the industry, but I don’t run the company. I support it, but Joy drives that business.”
MOB and Pure Culture Beauty may not be his final acts. Casale teases more game-changing concepts are in the hopper. He hints, “You are going to find out in about two months, and it will support our values of sustainability and the environment.”