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How this black-owned skincare brand focuses on chronic conditions

Topicals CEO and Co-Founder Olamide Olowe joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down how skincare brand Topicals is focusing on chronic conditions.

Video transcript


- Skincare is a multibillion dollar business, and one that's expected to grow by $4.5 billion over the next four years, and Topicals it's one company that's looking to capitalize on this. And we want to bring in Topicals' CEO and co-founder Olamide Olowe.

And Olamide, it's great to have you on Yahoo Finance. You're in a market that is rapidly growing, when we take a look at these numbers that we just got. But there's also a lot of bigger competitors out there. How are you positioning yourself and differentiating yourself from some of those bigger players that are already in this space?

OLAMIDE OLOWE: Thanks for having me. We're a brand that goes after people with chronic skin conditions. I think in the market right now, one in four people have a chronic skin condition, and the beauty industry in the past hasn't addressed these conditions. When you think about the beauty industry, you don't typically think about chronic skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.

And we even see how that is retailed in stores. When you walk into any one of, whether a grocery store or any kind of store where people-- Target or Walmart, you typically see that there's a separation between the aisles. There's the skin care aisle with fun branding and new product profiles, and then you see the ointment aisle, which is pretty outdated.

- Olamide, this Emily. I actually wanted to ask about your experience as an entrepreneur during the pandemic. Because I saw that Topicals raised $2.6 million in August of last year. And I'm wondering what your fundraising experience was like at that point, and more recently, if you've also sought additional funding, and whether you found that many early stage investors have been looking to make these deals in the midst of a pandemic.

OLAMIDE OLOWE: Yeah. I think a lot of the funding slowed up in around March. And leading up to that August round that we raised, it took me about two years to raise that capital. I think, you know, the skincare and beauty industry is extremely saturated and to find investors who see the opportunity is quite difficult. I think now the market is pretty frothy, and we're seeing a ton of investors be really excited about our business. And we haven't sought any additional external funding, but we're always excited about people who reach out to show their interest.

- You have a key partnership here with Sephora. Obviously, that opens a door for you and get your product in front of, maybe, people that wouldn't necessarily heard about it before. What are your future plans for similar partnerships like Sephora?

OLAMIDE OLOWE: I'm super excited to partner with Sephora. I think they're the absolute best partner that we could have ever wished for. I think I mentioned a little bit earlier, that typically, chronic skin conditions aren't retailed or celebrated in a way that's fun and exciting in the way typical skincare is. And so we're glad to be one of the first Black-owned skincare brands for chronic skin conditions at Sephora. And for us, accessibility is the name of the game. The more people's hands we can get our products into, that's exactly what we want to do. And so you'll continue to see us serve this underserved market in fun and exciting ways.

- What have sales been like in your recent months and recent quarters? Because as we've been seeing over the course of the pandemic, really, the consumer seems like they've been shifting towards this preference towards skincare as opposed to cosmetics and makeup, since they haven't necessarily been going out as much. But as things start to reopen, have you seen any changes in your sales trends?

OLAMIDE OLOWE: Yeah. We've seen really great upward trajectory of our sales. We're really excited, because this customer sees us and sees us as a safe place for them to not only get effective skincare, but to see themselves represented. Whether that be on the mobile billboards that we had in New York that are still live now, or in stores like Sephora. So for us, sales have been really great, and we're excited to continue creating products that innovate in this category.

- Your marketing strategy. What does that look like? Are you allocating a large chunk of it, a large chunk of your spending towards social media?

OLAMIDE OLOWE: I'll actually say that we're mostly organic. It's really great that this customer sees us as a brand that represents them, both, you know, exclusivity on the actual chronic skin condition, but across skin color as well. A lot of people don't know, but different skin products, skincare products that actually affect darker skins differently than they affect other skin tones. And so we're really proud that our products are inclusive to all skin tones. And our marketing really is based on the fact that you make skin look good and not the other way around.

We also say funner flareups, which is this idea that chronic skin conditions can't be cured. So if this is going to be a lifelong thing that you do deal with, it should be something that's fun and enjoyable, like self care, like skincare has been. And so our mission is to continue to transform the way people feel about skin.

- Olamide Olowe, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. Topicals CEO and co-founder. We wish you all the best.