037 – Janet Gurwitch of Castanea Partners – Winning at Beauty, Business and Baseball

Janet Gurwitch

Building a successful beauty brand (or any brand)…

Janet GurwitchJanet Gurwitch, Operating Partner of Castanea Partners (a Boston-based middle-market, consumer-focused private equity firm), joins Karen Moon and Regina Gwynn in New York at the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Gurwitch reveals some strategies in successful brand building and investing – one must “drink the Kool-Aid”, look for differentiated product, get along with the entrepreneurs, and believe together in the ability to build a large global business
  • How Gurwitch has never had brands not successful, but has of course had periods when they not successful, usually logistics issues, an inability to get the product out
  • Success stories of, and Gurwitch’s involvement with, Tatcha, Dollar Shave Club, DrybarJanet Gurwitch
  • How Castanea is helping brands get access to logistic resources, and how they bring a lot along with money
  • How the changes in the landscape of the beauty industry are changing how Castanea chooses to invest
  • Understanding a brand, each with a distinctive voice and brand DNA, new ideas, the importance of brands having a point of difference that resonates with a great products, and are well marketed (with a great illustration of the story of Drybar)
  • The stories of Dollar Shave Club (with a matching subscription with product), and First Aid Beauty (opening price point at Sephora to fill a white space)
  • Making the Laura Mercier brand a success, the story in building that brand
  • Gurwitch’s dream to be first woman CEO of Neiman Marcus, and making it to EVP and then leaving to pursue her own brand
  • Meeting Bobbi Brown, and how Gurwitch couldn’t get over how beauty industry was changing, so she tossed aside a wonderful corporate life , found Laura Mercier, licensed her name, and built a brand around the flawless face, great foundations, techniques, primers, and the moment of the ask for Mercier to lend her name on a brand Gurwitch owned
  • The importance of being willing to find the right group of people, and take risks
  • Why Gurwitch accepted Neiman Marcus group to invest in her company, how it impacted the sales
  • How Gurwitch undervalued packaging and learned later the major importance and impact of the right packaging
  • Young companies vs. small companies
  • What has made beauty more accessible
  • Being from the South
  • Winning the World Series with the Houston Astros (as a member of the Board), and going from being the worst team in baseball to winning the World Series, as a great example of rebuilding a brand

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