NatureLab Tokyo Signs The Kardashian’s Hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons As Brand Ambassador
When Japanese company NatureLab decided to enter the United States after over two decades in business, it realized it had to make adjustments for American consumers, and they’ve included picking up on the undying national fascination with all things Kardashian and Jenner.
The company has signed celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons, who has had his hands in the tresses of almost the entire Kardashian-Jenner reality television clan from Kris to Kendall, as an ambassador for NatureLab Tokyo, a brand that broke into the U.S. in the spring of last year. Fitzsimons will make his first appearance for NatureLab Tokyo at the trade show Indie Beauty Expo in Los Angeles next week and is expected to participate in how-to tutorials for the brand.
“We felt that having an ambassador of Andrew’s stature would help validate and elevate the brand in the eyes of consumers aware of his credibility,” says Ed Valentine, managing director of NatureLab Tokyo. “We’re very pleased that this relationship was more organic than intentional. Andrew began talking about our products within weeks of their launch. It became a situation where it wasn’t a stretch to say this is a legitimate voice for us. It made nothing but sense.”
Fitzsimons ran across NatureLab during a trip to Japan while “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” was filming in the country. He grew intrigued by the innovation of the Japanese beauty industry and, in particular, NatureLab’s products. Once back stateside, he was pleasantly surprised to find out NatureLab Tokyo had premiered in the U.S. and scooped up its products for his haircare arsenal.
“For nearly a year, they’ve been a staple in my kit, so partnering with them was a no-brainer,” he says. “I love that the products are designed to keep the scalp healthy and that everything is cruelty-free—this is important to a lot of my clients.” In addition to the Kardashian-Jenner crew, Adele, Ashley Graham, Cara Delevingne, Mariah Carey and Kate Upton are among Dublin-born Fitzsimons’ famous clients. His Instagram audience is closing in on 300,000 fans.
“I’m asked about products and hair tips every day on Instagram, so I love when I can share something that’s price-friendly, but also works as well as something as you’d find in a fancy salon.”
Fitzsimons identifies Perfect Volume Texture Mist and bestseller Perfect Smooth Hair Oil as his favorite products from NatureLab Tokyo. He says, “I love that these are products that I can recommend not just to my clients, but to my followers. I’m asked about products and hair tips every day on Instagram, so I love when I can share something that’s price-friendly, but also works as well as something as you’d find in a fancy salon.”
NatureLab Tokyo initially kicked off selling in the U.S. digitally on its own website and Amazon. In the fall, it entered six Urban Outfitter locations with six products and promptly started selling out at the retailer. In the spring, NatureLab Tokyo will be rolling out to Urban Outfitters locations chain-wide and increasing the number of products that will be available to the retailer’s customers. The brand will be spreading to retailers beyond Urban Outfitters this year, too.
In total, NatureLab Tokyo’s product lineup priced from $12 to $16 consists of 14 stockkeeping units grouped into four collections: Perfect Repair, Perfect Smooth, Perfect Volume and Perfect Shine. The products’ plant-based formulas feature the ingredients quinoa protein, pearl extract, and apple, bamboo, argan and grape stem cells to foster a strong scalp and revitalize lackluster strands. To tailor the products for the U.S. market, Valentine mentions the formulas were developed with a variety of hair types in mind.
NatureLab set up an office in LA around a year ago to manage NatureLab Tokyo in the U.S. Led by CEO Masao Yasuda, NatureLab’s portfolio as of January 2017 consisted of 1,000 products from 80 brands distributed to 40,000 stores in Japan. According to Valentine, NatureLab holds a larger share of the haircare market in Asia than Shiseido. In the U.S., where it’s a relatively unknown entity competing with hordes of beauty brands, he stresses the importance of efforts to cut through the clutter.
“The J-Beauty story has a focus on efficacy. The Japanese consumer is unforgiving when it comes to beauty products. If a product doesn’t work, it won’t last in the market. Our basic fundamental principal is that what we are putting out there has to do what it says it does.”
“We are here as an independent startup, and we live in a digital environment. That’s where we’ve experienced our growth, and tried to create brand awareness and positioned ourselves. It’s a very crowded market, and our proposition and brand pillars are unique and significantly different from other brands,” says Valentine. “The good news is that, in terms of social media and in the digital world, we’ve been recognized by influencers and important voices for the quality of our products.”
A major point of difference for NatureLab Tokyo is that it originates from a company with a longstanding history in the Japanese beauty industry. At a moment when there’s renewed interest in J-Beauty as the antithesis of K-Beauty, that history and the commitment to excellence it suggests could be appealing to consumers.
“K-Beauty came to the market with fun, slightly twisted versions of face masks and other cosmetics products that are trendy, and relied on a continuous rollout of new ideas and packaging, and engaged consumers looking for that,” says Valentine. “The J-Beauty story has a focus on efficacy. The Japanese consumer is unforgiving when it comes to beauty products. If a product doesn’t work, it won’t last in the market. Our basic fundamental principal is that what we are putting out there has to do what it says it does.”