Though the news of a celebrity launch occurs almost daily in today’s beauty world, it is far rarer for one to come to market from someone with as much credibility as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Over the past two years, the supermodel-turned-entrepreneur has been creating a beauty brand that reflects her own aesthetic of soft glam while still offering skin-care solutions to acne-prone skin (which she herself has). Today, Aug. 20, shoppers will have the first look at the Rose Inc. beauty brand, which features nine makeup and skin-care products, beauty brushes and reusable cotton pads. People can also sign up for early purchase access on RoseInc.com ahead of the August 24-26 sales period for Rose Inc.-registered members. Rose Inc. will exclusively sell in the U.S. through Sephora, Sephora.com and Roseinc.com starting on August 27. Additionally, on August 27, there is Sephora Canada, and SpaceNK in the U.K., while Rose Inc. launches in Australia through Mecca by the end of the year.
The Rose Inc. brand stems from the eponymous editorial site Rose Inc., which Huntington-Whiteley launched in May 2018. At that time, she knew the site would eventually lead to her own beauty brand. But Huntington-Whiteley wanted to “cement” her authority in the space, she said. The Rose Inc. online publication employs 30 people and features interviews with models, content creators and today’s bright young things. It also offers education stories, beauty tutorials and a shoppable section of beauty products curated by Huntington-Whiteley. Rose Inc. declined to share its monthly readership or readership demographics.
“We see a lot of people launching brands all the time. Some feel authentic, and some that don’t. There has to be that trust, authenticity and integrity built between you, your consumer and your audience,” Huntington-Whiteley said. “I wanted to build a site to get across my passion for beauty, to learn, to build a community — and I was also looking for the right partner to build our beauty brand with.”
That partner ended up being Amyris Inc., the public company behind better-for-you brands like Biossance, Pipette and Costa Brazil, which was acquired in March. Amyris’ claim to fame is the creation and manufacturing of squalane, a synthetic form of squalene, which is derived from shark livers and is a hero ingredient within the beauty industry. Squalane alone contributed to 20% of the company’s earnings, according to previous Glossy reporting. Amyris also has two other business verticals: health and wellness, and flavors and fragrances. John Melo, Amyris Inc. CEO, previously told Glossy that he has ambitions to establish Amyris as “The L’Oréal of clean beauty.”
Amyris aims to achieve just that through its rapid incubation and acquisition of brands, including an upcoming hair care brand with “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness and the relaunch of the Terasana skin-care brand (which it acquired in January) as a skin treatment brand on Thursday. For the Amyris and Rose Inc. partnership, Amyris formed a new company called Clean Beauty Collective, which operates under the Rose Inc. brand. Amyris owns 60% of Clean Beauty Collective, while Huntington-Whiteley owns 40%. Amyris and Rose Inc. declined to share sales expectations for the beauty brand.
“The vision of Amyris is to keep building brands, where we have got a commitment of no compromise,” said Caroline Hadfield, Rose Inc. CEO, who has been with Amyris Inc. in varying capacities since 2015. “[That means] no compromise on ingredients by using our platform of biotech and bioengineering, so that we’re bringing proprietary sustainable versions of ingredients to the market — everything from squalane to patchouli oil to vanillin.”
Though the former Victoria’s Secret model has had almost 20 years of experience in hair and makeup chairs and engaging with the beauty world, Huntington-Whiteley’s formal beauty career stretches back to 2016 with the creation of the Rosie for Autograph Makeup collection with U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer. Rosie for Autograph also includes activewear and lingerie line. Huntington-Whiteley said it was during this period that her love for beauty was cemented, as she particularly loved the creation of products and the storytelling around beauty. The makeup line ended in Dec. 2019. Huntington-Whiteley since served as brand ambassador for Hourglass Cosmetics in 2020.
But Rose Inc. itself has also earned its beauty business stripes through multiple collaborations since its launch. In Dec. 2019, Rose Inc. worked with beauty brand Sunnies Face on a limited-edition “On-Duty” kit. Then there was a partnership with candle brand Nanor to make its first beauty scrub, which launched in Dec. 2020. More recently, Rose Inc. worked with handbag brand Hunting Season to make beauty cases and clutches that debuted in March, and it worked with La Bouche Rouge in February.
In the case of La Bouche Rouge, Huntington-Whiteley was already a customer, having purchased from the brand’s website and posted about the brand (for free) on Instagram in 2017. Shirley Muland, La Bouche Rouge head of influence and partnerships, then reached out to Huntington-Whiteley in 2020 to gauge her interest in a collaboration. During the process, Huntington-Whiteley could be found on Zoom calls in her bathroom surrounded by her lipsticks and “meticulously” choosing which colors to consider for the collab, said Nicolas Gerlier, La Bouche Rouge founder and CEO.
“She’s very authentic, and she loves luxury. The [idea of] less is more is something we have in common,” said Gerlier. He said he had proposed customizing La Bouche Rouge’s signature refillable leather lipstick cases to indicate it was a Rose Inc. collab. However, Huntington-Whiteley was adamant that the elegance of the cases not be compromised.
The result was a permanent Valentine’s Day collection between Rose Inc. and La Bouche Rouge that is available online and features two shades: Le Nude and Rouge Rosie. The lipsticks come in leather case shades of camel and pink. A portion of each sale is donated to Eau Vive Internationale, a non-profit that provides clean drinking water to communities in need.
“She’s a businesswoman. I felt that during my discussions with her. She’s sharp and passionate about what she’s doing,” Gerlier said. “She’s also well surrounded by the right people, and [finding them] is a talent. It’s not a team of people rushing [around] or accelerating the discussion in the wrong way.”
Much like the scene of Huntington-Whiteley in a bathroom scrupulously considering lipstick shades during a Zoom call, one can readily uncover these kinds of anecdotes when they speak with someone who has worked with her. In the summer of 2019, when she arrived at the first product development meeting in Los Angeles between Hadfield and Mimi Lu, Amyris vp of new product development and marketing, she had two suitcases. Hadfield thought Huntington-Whiteley would be rushing off to travel somewhere after, only to witness Huntington-Whiteley open them and reveal a categorically organized trousseau of beauty products for them to discuss.
After nearly two years of development, the initial launch of Rose Inc. beauty consists of a concealer (in 20 shades), a Lip Sculpt Amplifying Lip Color, a Brow Renew Enriched Eyebrow Shaping Gel, a Blush Divine Radiant Lip and Cheek Color, a Radiant Brightening Serum and a Skin Resolution Clarifying Toner, among other items. Prices range from $18-$72. Dubbed as the Modern Essentials collection, Rose Inc.’s product launch strategy will center around seasonal collections rather than one-off products. Products will be sold through RoseInc.com, and the editorial side of the brand will remain intact.
“NPD meetings are my favorite, because at the very core of a brand is new product development. [A beauty brand] is about products and formulations, and about creating products that are going to make a difference in somebody’s day and make them feel a little extra special,” said Huntington-Whiteley. “People want to feel like the best version of themselves, and they probably have a [signature] look that they want to stick to… They don’t want to have to think about it too much. That’s always been my approach to how I pull myself together for the day.”
In keeping with Amyris Inc.’s position as a clean and eco-conscious beauty company, Rose Inc. products are made with 25% post-consumer recycled plastic and are held in 100% recyclable glass bottles. At the same time, their secondary packaging consists of FSC-certified paper cartons made with 30% hemp. The brand also uses carbon-neutral shipping and 25% of the products are refillable. Amyris released its first environmental, sustainability and governance in July, banning 2,000 ingredients from its products and supporting U.S. cosmetic safety regulations.
With the significance around the Rose Inc. beauty launch, social media and editorial publications are expected to be awash with the news. Huntington-Whiteley and Rose Inc. will publish the news on RoseInc.com and their respective social channels, and “notable people” are expected to post the news, as well, though a brand representative declined to share who. Notably, all social media posts will be unpaid.
Because Huntington-Whiteley has worked on every aspect of Rose Inc. and the subsequent brand, she admits that she is both “nervous and apprehensive” about the launch because the brand is a personal reflection of her aesthetic, values and vision. The next several months will extend that hard work as the Rose Inc. and Amyris teams gather insights and feedback and track the early response of the brand. Huntington-Whiteley is also looking at new and expanded office space for the Rose Inc. team in Los Angeles and London. Huntington-Whiteley herself is transatlantic between the two cities. Though the last several weeks leading up to the launch have been a whirlwind of interviews, meetings, photoshoots and the like, Huntington-Whiteley said she is cognizant of the need to “take a moment to celebrate.” On Thursday, Huntington-Whiteley also announced on Instagram her second pregnancy with actor Jason Statham, with whom she has a 4-year-old son.
“Often, if you move quickly through these things, it just becomes work and you’re on a [nonstop] train. [It will be important] to take a moment post-launch and celebrate this moment, because it’s been a lot of hard work on everyone’s part,” she said. “But I’m deeply excited to start this next chapter. It truly feels like I’m closing the door on one part of my career and about to embark on the next chapter.”