How Lake & Skye’s 11 11 Scent Became A Unisex Favorite In Clean Beauty Fragrance Collections
Lake & Skye’s bestselling product 11 11 is the fragrance equivalent of no makeup makeup. “It smells very natural, almost as if you aren’t wearing anything extra. It’s just you,” says Kristen Bertiglia, planning and merchandise manager at clean beauty retailer Credo. The fresh musk is adored by Lake & Skye loyalists who gravitate to its unisex straightforwardness. “11 11 sells out of every store that it’s in,” says Lake & Skye founder Courtney Somer. “I have never had it not sell or a retailer not come back to buy it.” Beauty Independent spoke to her to get the lowdown on 11 11’s upsurge.
Launch date: September 2015
Sales growth: More than 220% year-over-year
Total retail doors: 75
Product development: The antecedent to Lake & Skye was an aromatherapy brand Somer revamped due to a trademark issue. After the revamp, she introduced three aromatherapy blends and wound up throwing two fragrances into the merchandise mix as well, one of which was 11 11. Although Somer was never a fragrance enthusiast before her brand jumped into fragrances, she was attracted to musk and decided to wrap a scent around it. “It really flowed, and we did no revision to it. It hit the mark right at the beginning,” she says. “It was such a unique scent. It didn’t smell like anything else I’d smelled.”
11 11 is a crisp, musky blend of white ambers. Somer says over 75% of its contents are given the lowest possible rating in Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, but the fragrance does contain synthetic ingredients. However, it meets Credo’s fragrance standard, and doesn’t have parabens, phthalates and sulfates.
Studying numerology at the onset of Lake & Skye, Somer chose the product name 11 11 because it’s a configuration of numbers people associate with an auspicious date or time. “It’s about something you’re hoping to have happen or a wish,” she says. “To me, it’s kind of a good luck charm.” The brand name Lake & Skye combines the middle names of Somer’s daughters.
Retail price: In a roll-on format, 11 11 is priced at $48 for a .33-oz. size. A competitive analysis of similar-sized products and ingredient costs factored into the pricing. An eau de parfum version of 11 11 that recently made its debut is priced at $98 for a 1.7-oz. bottle. “I wanted to create something that busy women could use throughout their days, and I hoped to create something that was sustainable, profitable and would continue to grow,” says Somer. “It has exceeded those expectations.” Lake & Skye crossed into the black in its inaugural year of business.
Packaging design: Lake & Skye’s minimalist design – it features clear glass, black lettering and a silver cap – is intended to be simple and tasteful. Somer gravitated to the portability of a rollerball format. “It was something you could use all the time like a lip gloss,” she says. “I had kids and no time. I liked the idea of having something that, when I had a moment in a cab, I could take out for a minute to myself.” Initially, the rollerball only had the product name on it. A year in, Somer landed a printer to put both the brand and product names on the packaging. For an emerging company, she says, “It was a great victory that really helped overall.”
Distribution strategy: Moon Juice was an early supporter of Lake & Skye and, like many distribution partners that have picked up the brand, the connection to Moon Juice came through a friend of Somer’s. Credo began stocking the brand when the clean beauty retailer had two stores. Today, it has eight locations. Lake & Skye entered Anthropologie earlier this year. Birchbox has been an important vehicle to raise awareness about 11 11. “At first, it was very New York and LA, and that’s where most of my stores were, but, since then, it’s really spread,” says Somer, noting that 11 11 sells briskly at retailers of different sorts from beauty stores to clothing destinations.
Next year, Lake & Skye could push beyond the domestic market to the United Kingdom. Australia and countries within European Union are future geographic targets for expansion. Somer says, “Sales is something I want to focus on. My time has been spent on how to continue meeting demand for the product and, now, it’s a great place to be in to be able to focus on growth instead of continuing going as is.” She adds the brand still has enormous potential within the U.S. Nordstrom, Barneys New York and Sephora are among the dream retailers for Lake & Skye.
Media milestones: Out of the gate, Somer hired a press relations specialist for three months to propel Lake & Skye’s exposure. The result was a slew of media mentions in publications including Vogue, T Magazine, Departure, The Zoe Report, Bustle, Refinery29 and Domino, where Somer is currently editor at large. The Refinery29 article lifted 11 11 sales instantly. Somer has shifted to handling press relations in-house for budgetary reasons, but her brand still garners attention. Mindbodygreen doled out a beauty award to 11 11 this year.
Hiccups along the way to success: While 11 11 is presently available at a venerable roster of stockists, Somer experienced a great deal of rejection from retailers. She estimates Lake & Skye’s list of retailers represents a third of the retailers she’s pursued. “The interesting thing is figuring out the right partners that are really going to trust it and take it into their stores,” says Somer.
In the beginning, meeting minimums for packaging and printing was tough. “I had to keep asking and knocking on doors to get someone that would print my tubes for less than 5,000 units,” she recounts. “Those are the small victories that keep you going.” At one point, 5,000 units were shipped to Somer’s apartment, and she had nowhere to put them. “I didn’t realize how big they’d be,” she remembers. “When you’re bootstrapping the whole thing, there’s always a challenge.”
Maintaining momentum: Lake & Skye is starting a sampling program with 1.2-ml. samples of 11 11 selling for around $8. Sample purchasers will receive 10% off of a full-size order. Additionally, Lake & Skye is extending 11 11 to various product types. The extensions kicked off with the eau de parfum, and a candle is scheduled for release in December preceding hand cream, body oil and bath salts in early 2019. A new fragrance will also join Lake & Skye’s product lineup in 2019.
Retailer take: “11 11 has a really approachable price point – it’s $48 – which isn’t always the case with fragrances. The name is compelling, too. When a customer sees it on the shelf or online, it begs the question to know the story behind it, and the light, fresh scent makes it universally beloved by men and women,” says Bertiglia. “It’s perfect for someone who is looking for a signature scent that is identifiable, but is light enough for everyday wear and not too overwhelming.”