America’s Beauty Billionaire Built An Empire Targeting Women’s Eyebrows.
Anastasia Soare, founder of makeup company Anastasia Beverly Hills, has based her career on applying the golden ratio—used by the ancient Greeks and Leonardo da Vinci—to the eyebrows of her clients. That formula has earned her a pile of gold, enough to make Soare one of the wealthiest self-made women entrepreneurs in the U.S.
A longtime favorite of celebrities and one of the first beauty companies to embrace social media as a brand strategy, Anastasia Beverly Hills brings in an estimated $340 million in annual revenue, according to WWD, and $200 million in operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), according to Pitchbook.
Anastasia Beverly Hills’ popularity has drawn major interest from both large beauty companies and private equity firms that want in on Soare’s secret to perfect brows. In February, reports surfaced that Soare was in talks to sell part or all of the business. On Wednesday, news broke that TPG Capital was nearing an agreement for part of the company, which a source also confirmed to Forbes. Reached for comment, TPG would not confirm a valuation. CNBC published a report that the proposed investment by TPG could value the cosmetics company at as much as $3 billion.
It’s a fantastic time to be a beauty entrepreneur. Small beauty labels have been fetching 10 figure sums. In 2016, L’Oréal made its largest acquisition in eight years when it paid $1.2 billion in cash for IT cosmetics, which was about 6.6 times sales. IT founder Jamie Kern Lima, who stayed on as CEO, is now worth $410 million thanks to that transaction. Estée Lauder paid approximately $1.45 billion, or 5.5 times sales, for popular cosmetics firm Too Faced that same year.
“The organic growth is just not there for the established brands,” Hana Ben-Shabat, a partner at the global consultancy A.T. Kearney, told Forbes last year. Beauty conglomerates, she said, “cannot afford to be inactive in the acquisition game if they want to succeed.”
Born in Romania, Soare immigrated to Los Angeles in 1989. As a 32-year-old single mother, unable to speak English or to get approval for a credit card, Soare, who studied art and architecture back home, got her start in the U.S. as an aesthetician. She noticed early on that women in America didn’t seem to pay much attention to their eyebrows.
Soare began applying the golden ratio she had learned in art school to the brows of clients at the beauty salon where she worked. The golden ratio method, which she has patented, uses the mathematical ratio of 1.618 to 1.0 to form a client’s “perfect arch,” promoting symmetry and a sense of proportion—or at least according to the company’s website.
Within a few years, Soare gained a following that included supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Stephanie Seymour. In 1992 she began renting out a room in Beverly Hills and working seven days a week, independently offering her eyebrow services, as well as waxing and facials. Five years later her eyebrow empire had grown large enough that she could open her flagship Beverly Hills Salon.
In 2000 she launched her initial line of products, which focused entirely on eyebrows. At first she struggled to get her fillers and brushes into stores; the items were initially carried in only 20 Nordstrom locations. But with a cultlike following, the brand slowly began to grow.
It was viral social media marketing, though, that made it a true success. Upon the urging of her daughter and the company’s president, Claudia Soare, Anastasia Soare took her brand to Instagram in 2013. Just like the supermodels helped Soare’s original salon, Instagram models and influencers—including perhaps the biggest social media star, Kim Kardashian—have helped validate her products. “The Instagram community has really embraced our tutorials and our presence on Instagram, and we decided to launch a makeup line and promote it on Instagram,” she told The Cut.“That took off, and we started selling in Sephora and everywhere else.” Claudia still manages the company’s marketing—its Instagram now has over 16 million followers—as well as its product development.
Soare now sells 485 products—a line that extends beyond makeup for brows—in over 2,000 stores around the world, as well as online. Bestsellers include a powder highlighter, a series of eyeshadow palettes, a liquid lipstick and, of course, an eyebrow pomade that promises to outline, fill and texturize brows.
Read More: Forbes