Since launching Kora Organics in 2009, Miranda Kerr hasn’t “taken a cent out of the company,” she said.
“I put it all back in, even though we’re profitable and I could be writing myself a check, I don’t,” continued the Australian model and chief executive officer. She owns 95 percent of the business alongside a 5 percent silent investor. “I put it back in so that I can grow the team and invest more in, you know, more products.”
That team is now at 58, with 28 employees in the U.S. and 30 in Australia. Kerr manages the business from Los Angeles, where the mom of three lives with husband Evan Spiegel, Snapchat’s billionaire CEO.
“Our consumers have been asking for a while…and we listened,” Kerr said of Kora Organics’ latest product launch, its first cleanser, the “Milky Mushroom Gentle Cleansing Oil.” Priced at $40, it’s available today on Koraorganics.com and launches Tuesday at Sephora. “We researched and realized there’s no other Cosmos-certified organic cleansing oil on the market.”
All Kora Organics products are certified organic by Cosmos, an organization that sets certification requirements for organic and natural cosmetics. Working with a team of organic chemists, Kerr offers silver ear mushroom (snow fungus) for moisture retention as an alternative to hyaluronic acid with the new product, as well as ingredients like babassu oil, sunflower seed oils and apple seed oil to create a cleanser that’s gentle yet still effective for makeup removal, she said.
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The brand, which is sold in 30 countries globally, first launched with an organic oil and now offers organic serums, exfoliators, masks, dietary supplements and wellness tools (from a $32 dry body brush to a $98 glass water bottle featuring an amethyst crystal inside). The majority of its customers are women aged 25 to 45, living in major cities such as L.A., New York, Sydney, London and Singapore.
The company revealed that Kora Organics saw growth in 2020 amid the global pandemic. Sales in the online direct-to-consumer business — which has always been its strongest revenue stream — were up close to 75 percent, year-over-year, with its North American online d-to-c market almost doubling. The growth made up for revenue loss at retail partners (which include Sephora) on the brick-and-mortar end due to store closures, noted the brand.
Still, Kerr expected higher sales in 2020, she admitted.
“It wasn’t as big as what we anticipated, because we have a very special product that we were launching, supposed to be launching last year, that we had accounted for in our revenue, but then we had to shift that,” she said.
The release was pushed due to the impact of COVID-19 and its disruption to the supply chain. It will come out in April instead, kicking off three more launches planned this year. (Expect glass packaging and for “two of the four products to have refillable pod options,” Kerr said of the brand’s new sustainable efforts.)
The company has also pivoted to focus on e-commerce lately, launching with e-tailers Revolve, Lookfantastic and U.K.’s Cult Beauty in the past six months, as well as investing in marketing — a new strategy.
“We’re wanting to expand even more,” Kerr said. “And actually, we’ve put aside some money for marketing, which is the first time that we’ve done that, so that we can get it out there, because I really do believe that once people try our products, they do get hooked, and then come back for more.”
She attributes last year’s sales growth to providing skin care at a time when consumers — particularly wellness enthusiasts who are more self-educated than ever — are turning to self care while home during the health crisis. She also credits the brand’s holistic approach to beauty.
“It’s the mind, body, spirit connection,” she said, adding that all the brand’s products are “filtered” through a gemstone, rose quartz, in the manufacturing process. “All the ingredients touch upon the rose quartz to give that vibration of love and that soothing energy and nurturing energy.”
In her eyes, it all comes down to the benefits of organic ingredients, though. Kora Organics is the only certified-organic range that Sephora carries, according to Kerr.
“Cambridge [University] came out with a study saying that certified organic ingredients have up to 60 percent more antioxidants than non-organic ingredients,” she said.
The study, released in 2014 by the university’s British Journal of Nutrition, notes that in some cases, organic foods have 60 percent more antioxidants than the alternative.
“When you’re using certified organic ingredients, you’re getting that higher antioxidant level, which is why our products are getting such incredible results for people,” she continued. “Our skin is our largest organ, and what we put on our skin sinks in. That’s why it’s important to be aware of that. There are so many things in this world that we can’t control, but one thing we can control is what we put on our skin. And I’m not saying everyone has to use everything certified organic all of the time. What I’m saying is, it’s incredible to have that option of certified organic if you want to use it, because it’s basically a healthy way to get results for your skin….Health is wealth. The more that we can take care of ourselves, the better people we can be, the better parents we are, the better friends we are, the better lovers we are. You just feel better when you take care of yourself.”
Looking forward, would she ever consider selling the brand?
“For me, this is such my baby,” she said. “I grew this business from the ground up, and it’s something that I’m so proud of.”
She has big ambitions.
“We’re really wanting to continue to solidify our position as like the leaders with certified organics,” she added. “I feel like it has the potential to become the Estée Lauder of organics.”
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