Function of Beauty, the brand best known for creating custom hair care formulas, has named Alexandra Papazian chief executive. Papazian, a longtime L’Oréal executive who most recently held the role of president at Shiseido-owned Laura Mercier, takes the reins from Function of Beauty co-founder Zahir Dossa, who will move into the role of executive chairman.
“Most of the time you think of customisation as something that pertains to luxury,” said Papazian of what drew her to the company. “What Function does, with a vision to be very democratic about customisation and bring it to as many people as possible, I think that is very disruptive and unique.”
The move comes on the heels of Function of Beauty’s Series B round of funding, announced last December, a $150 million round led by LVMH-backed private equity firm L Catterton. At the time, Function of Beauty, which saw $100 million in net sales last year and is on track to out pace that number in 2021, noted that appointing a new chief executive was at the top of its priority list for next steps post funding. In particular, Dossa said, the company was looking for an industry veteran with experience in growing beauty labels, as the company looks beyond its direct-to-consumer, hair care-only beginnings. It launched in Target stores at the end of last year and acquired Atolla, a personalised skin care company, in August.
“Suddenly, [we’re] looking a little bit more strategic and a little less like a startup,” said Dossa. “We have all these crazy areas of growth and Alex just has a tremendous amount of experience and ability to take a vision and strategy from a founder and then go to town with it.”
Going forward, Function is looking toward growing beyond the company’s roots, both in terms of what it’s selling and where it’s selling it. The company already ships to 48 countries, but does so through simply shipping its products from the US abroad. Next up, it wants to actually establish a presence in international markets and connect more directly with consumers there.
Function has already made major strides in category expansion, most notably in debuting its first major new category launch last year, customised skin care. It’s doubling down on growing the skin care element of its business with last month’s Atolla acquisition. Like Function, Atolla owns a patented at-home skin care test and product recommendation tool.
But now, offering products in both hair and skin care, Function is turning its attention away from category expansion — though it’s still a part of the brand’s long-term plan. Instead, it’s focusing on expanding the categories it already carries, particularly hair care, which was its first and remains its largest. That’s where it made the most recent addition to its product lineup — a custom co-wash product, which is a cleansing conditioner designed for users with curly hair.
“In our core business, we have tons of opportunity, so we will be very focused on that,” said Papazian.
Papazian is just one executive appointment of several Function has made in recent months to round out its C-suite, with the appointment of chief digital officer Tim Gaughan, chief financial officer Martin Layding, chief operating officer Brian O’Neill and chief people officer Jolie Loeble, bringing in a variety of backgrounds, from DTC to CPG, in hopes of beefing up its roster of employees with experience in both operating more established consumer product brands as well as scaling DTC brands.
Function’s ambitions are growing at a time when the personalisation space in beauty has become increasingly crowded. In recent years, brands like Curology, Prose and more have gained consumer and investor attention and are similarly eyeing expansion. Prose, for example, launched supplements earlier this year.
“The vision is that in 20 years, there will only be customisable brands for everything you get, so in that, the more, the merrier,” said Dossa.
But for now, he added, the vast majority of consumers doesn’t use customised products — the competition, he said, isn’t other custom brands, but rather, other hair and skin care brands in general. What custom brands have to do, he said, is convince consumers to try their products in the first place.