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How Ilia Beauty Founder Sasha Plasvic Has Maintained a ‘Brand-first’ Approach Post-acquisition

In leveraging the strengths of the brand’s new parent company, Famille C, while upholding the hallmarks that supercharged Ilia’s initial momentum, Plasvic is forging Ilia’s next chapter of growth.

How Ilia Beauty Founder Sasha Plasvic Has Maintained a ‘Brand-first’ Approach Post-acquisition

Sasha Plasvic, founder of Ilia Beauty, at the WWD Los Angeles Beauty Forum.

“I’m a gut person,” said Ilia Beauty founder Sasha Plasvic.

It’s a trait that kicked in during a preliminary, pandemic-era meeting with the Courtin-Clarins’ family holding company, Famille C — which went on to acquire Ilia a year later in 2022 for an undisclosed sum.

“It was [Famille C’s] first acquisition, and it was something I’d certainly never done before,” continued Plasvic at WWD’s Los Angeles Beauty Forum in conversation with Booth Moore, WWD’s West Coast executive editor. “I hoped they would be a match and I felt they would be a match and they were — but they could not have been.”

The acquisition came at a momentous time for Los Angeles-based Ilia. The brand — known for being ahead of the curve with its skin care-infused color cosmetics — had struck gold with the introduction of its hero Super Serum Skin Tint in 2020, narrowly beating out the post-pandemic deluge of serum foundations that followed.

“It was the right timing, the right product, the right branding for a clean makeup brand. We grew so quickly — it got to a point where I wanted us to find another home, or even just take some of the pressure off as I had everything invested into the business,” Plasvic said.

Drawn to Clarins in part due to its status as a privately owned, family-run company, Plasvic has also found synergy with the parent company’s steady approach to growth, including international expansion.

“Clarins specifically — they went country-by-country; they’d go for five years, let’s say, to Australia, maybe be in debt for three of those years to build the brand, and then in the fifth become profitable,” said Plasvic, who has expanded Ilia to Canada, France, the U.K., and New Zealand and Australia. “Learning from them — understanding where they had wins, where they had losses and understanding that step-by-step [approach] — is another alignment we find very comforting.”

Ilia also tapped one of Clarins’ signature skin-firming ingredients for its recent Skin Rewind Complexion Stick launch, which retails for $48 and is something of a natural-matte counterpart to the brand’s skin tint.

The companies’ respective production, however, remains separate.

“There’s been no integration there. We haven’t changed any formulas, which was important to me and [Clarins] sees that as very important as well; they specialize more in skin care, we specialize more in makeup. We do share resources, and they get to see how our business is growing and learn from that in their own right.…As a strategic partner, they are definitely one that is more hands-off,” Plasvic said.

Another reaffirming moment in the partnership was when a wide-scale production issue led to millions of defective products last year, and Clarins agreed to postpone what was supposed to be one of Ilia’s biggest launches, rather than bringing a potentially problematic run of products to market.

“We had to go to them and say, ‘hey — we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to hit our bottom line this year, because it’s not going to come from this launch,’ and they aligned with us and said, ‘brand first, performance second’ — that was a testament to how Clarins thinks and operates,” said Plasvic, adding that while Ilia may not be particularly “young” in age, it feels young in its growth; a growth that has become more manageable post-acquisition.

“There’s so much that we haven’t done that I want to do; I see a very big runway from a strategy standpoint in product, and that’s where I live and spend most of my time.”

Tags

  • acquisition
  • Business Insights
  • makeup

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