Last week, Lime Crime entered a new chapter when private equity firm Tengram Capital purchased a majority stake in the beauty brand. Under this new ownership, and with guidance from newly appointed CEO Stacy Panagakis, Lime Crime will focus on expanding upon the brand’s direct-to-consumer roots and reaching international customers.
Panagakis, who joins from Fresh where she was general manager, said her top goals for Lime Crime include finding opportunities to learn from customers, beefing up the direct-to-consumer channel and growing the executive team. The company recently hired for four positions — CEO, CFO, head of marketing and head of supply chain — to total six people, including the already established chief creative and commerce officers. Panagakis replaces Kim Walls, the global general manager who was acting as CEO.
Lime Crime, since its founding in 2008, has faced a series of controversies and setbacks with its founder Doe Deere (real name Xenia Vorotova) at its helm. Deere, who has now stepped away from day-to-day management but remains on the company board, received early backlash for intimidating online bloggers who wrote negative reviews with cease-and-desist notices. The brand as a whole has also received backlash for accusations of cultural appropriation, labeling issues that prompted a letter from the Food and Drug Administration, and a security breach that resulted in the company settling a class-action lawsuit.
Now, the new executive hires are tasked with separating the new guard from the old while simultaneously trying to triple the size of the business. Lime Crime had an estimated $30 million in net sales for 2017, according to WWD. Panagakis spoke with Glossy during her first week on the job about her plans to have the brand speak one-to-one with customers to hear their input, develop wholesale channels in international markets and deepen the direct-to-consumer relationship by tapping into its consumer data.
Lime Crime has always been a digital-first brand. How do you plan to grow the direct-to-consumer business?
Direct-to-consumer is our obsession. That’s not to say we won’t go into wholesale, but it’s our home. I think the No. 1 way is to get to know [our customers] and create customization for them, so that we talk to them as individuals and not as groups.
Once we do that, it will guide us to the next step. What’s great is we have a lot of information about them because of the digital world and because of our dot com. So we know, globally, where they live, what they buy, what they like, what they don’t like. We know certain behaviors already, and now it’s just making sure we spend more time — and not make too many assumptions — to truly get it right and ensure the consumer is the heartbeat of everything we do. Sometimes, we move too quickly and then make big assumptions. We have [to make] decisions based on what we know about the consumer.
How does Lime Crime plan to approach customization?
We approach that by [asking ourselves]: “How are we going to make each experience unique?” At this point in time, it’s not about her creating her own products yet, but it’s evolving around the individual consumer, understanding what’s important to her and why, and honoring that.
Where are the opportunities for Lime Crime in physical retail?
When we bring Lime Crime to life, the consumers respond incredibly well, whether it’s at Beautycon, or a smaller version of it like at [Forever 21’s beauty boutique] Riley Rose. So we want to share that wherever she is and leverage the digital world so she can experience it. And we know where she is via where she is [buying] currently, so that’s where we are looking; bigger cities right now would make the most sense.
How does Lime Crime plan to expand internationally?
Because of the digital world Lime Crime launched in, we have a lot of information as to where our international Lime Crime [customers] are. So first and foremost, we are going to go back to the customers, because they are telling us where they want the brand. There are some clear pockets that will work, and the U.K. obviously is one, but it’s really interesting where [customers] are already purchasing and know us, and that’s how we are going to start our international strategy. We are launching in [U.K. department store] Selfridges at the end of [July], and we are in discussions with many other retailers internationally. When you look at the fact that we are barely in wholesale and we don’t have a lot of product categories, there’s so much opportunity. It’s exciting beyond belief. I think we have incredible opportunities to look and go to the right places. And I think digital and direct [to consumer] will be really important to us, but we definitely want to go in and show off our brand in brick-and-mortar, as well.