L Catterton buys Bellami, a company specializing in hair extensions

L. Catterton go bigger in Hair extensions – and sees plenty of growth opportunities as the category expands.

the consumer private equity giant began in the region last year, taking over extension specialist Beauty Industry Group. Now BIG has reached an agreement to buy Bellami Hairexpanding its portfolio to 14 extension brands and opening a new channel of distribution.

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Bellami, which was founded by Nikki Eslami and Julius Salerno in 2012, skips the distributor and sells its 100% Remy hair extensions directly to salons with independent sales people, a digital approach and educational support specialists.

It’s another angle on a category that, according to Derrick Porter, chief executive of BIG, is still in the early days of a dramatic growth curve.

“Currently, only 15-20% of hairstylists offer hair extensions as a service,” Porter told WWD. “And only about 3% of American women use hair extensions as a product.”

It took Porter a while to see the potential for modern consumers in the age-old practice of applying hair extensions.

“Fifteen years ago we were convinced that hair extensions were a fad,” said Porter, who had a third-party logistics company with his wife who worked with the Donna Bella Hair brand. “It was something that was really for the rich and famous movie stars that wasn’t talked about at all.”

But after taking a closer look at Donna Bella’s business, Porter went to the owner and said, “Your business is much better than mine. You have the capacity to evolve.

This led Porter to become a partner, but still not a long-term believer.

“We jumped in with both feet,” he said. “The first four or five years, we were convinced that it was a fad and that it would end any day.”

Once that didn’t fade, he thought maybe it was a trend that would last a bit longer before he finally realized there was more activity there.

“Wow, we’ve actually created a category where stylists are making a huge income from the hair extension service,” he recalls thinking as the business solidified.

“Hair extensions might even be the wrong word for what we’re doing now,” Porter said. “What we’re learning is that nearly 67% of our customers buy hair extensions to solve a problem.”

These include alopecia, thinning hair and other hair issues that can have an emotional impact and give BIG a powerful connection with consumers.

Porter compared hair extensions to hair color, a category that over the past 50 years has grown to be transformative for both the beauty industry and consumers.

“Hair Extensions are ready to air in prime time,” Porter said. “It already starts when you look at the data; we just never came out and talked about it.

Considered an emotional stronghold – and with great potential for growth – the category is also in an ideal place to L. Cattertonwhich takes a thematic approach to the market and invests heavily in the wellness category with investments in Peloton, fitness company Wells Group in China and others.

L Catterton, which is backed by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, bills itself as the world’s largest consumer-focused private equity firm. In addition to BIG, she owns BirkenstockBliss, Ganni, Etro and many others while holding minority stakes in RihannaSavage x Fenty, Rhone, Gentle Monster, The Honest Company and more.

Avik Pramanik, L Catterton’s partner, said BIG is playing in an area that is “completely misunderstood by both beauty category watchers and consumers alike”.

Where the perception might be that it’s the 25-year-old Ariana Grande fan who is looking for hair extensions, the reality is that most consumers are over 35 and more concerned about self-esteem. , said Pramanik.

“It’s never been more important to help this consumer with their hair issues,” he said, adding that the engagement opens up other opportunities. “We want to, over time, help this consumer in other ways that address her hair issues.”

In the meantime, the category is simply doing good business.

“The pool of benefits in hair extension is good for almost everyone who touches it,” Pramanik said.

This ranges from people who sell their hair – donating around 15-20% of their hair in the process – to stylists who specialize in the process. (BIG is a member of the United Nations Global Compact and publishes an environmental, social and governance report detailing priorities and safeguards for its operations.)

Pramanik said there are always new artists coming up with hair extension techniques and creating new brands that can grow into potential acquisitions for BIG, which has back-end teams that handle finances. , demand forecasting, media buying, etc.

“After joining BIG, they have the opportunity to do what they love and not get bogged down,” he said.

Salerno, who leads BIG’s latest brand as CEO, said, “This transaction is an exciting milestone for Bellami as we continue to cultivate ways to reach our consumers through authentic and effective channels. I look forward to working closely with the entire BIG team to bring Bellami to even more clients and accelerate our significant investment in stylist training.

Eslami, the brand’s other founder, will remain as an advisor to BIG, noting, “Their similar goal of elevating the hair solutions category marks a natural evolution of Bellami’s mission over the past decade. With support from BIG, Bellami will expand its reach to meet women’s diverse hair needs, whether it’s thinning, alopecia, dryness, postpartum hair loss, damaged hair or length. . It’s no surprise that hair is emotional and an essential part of many people’s identity. We want it to be a trusted source.

The terms of the contract are not disclosed.

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