LONDON, United Kingdom — Josh Wood, the hair colourist behind runway shows including Burberry, Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs, has secured $6.5 million in funding to grow his eponymous direct-to-consumer business, Josh Wood Colour.
The series A funding round, which also included backing from Jamjar Investments and Venrex, was led by Index Ventures, the VC firm known for its investment in companies such as Farfetch, Net-a-Porter and Glossier. The terms of the deal were undisclosed.
Launched in February 2018, Josh Wood Colour is the direct-to-consumer arm of Wood’s namesake salon, based in London’s Holland Park neighbourhood and founded in 2011. The business sold 240,000 products in its first year, with British drugstore Boots exclusively stocking the brand across 440 stores nationwide.
The investment will be primarily directed towards improving the personalised nature of Josh Wood Colour’s e-commerce model. “We’re evaluating how to best serve our customer online — and how we ensure every individual receives a personal consultation,” Wood told BoF. This will involve further developments to the brand’s existing shade personalisation technology. “It’s not standardised, it’s not box results, it’s not dense and heavy,” he said.
Currently, visitors to the Josh Wood Colour site are met with a chatbot consultation service, which recommends the best shade for them based on a series of questions. Priced between £5 ($6.50) and £15 ($19.50), products include five different forms of root concealer, a shade-specific shampoo and the brand’s trademark “Shade Shot” pigment customisation product.
Wood also plans to build the leadership of the company, which currently employs 60 people, and is in talks with international retailers in order to facilitate omni-channel distribution beyond the UK.
The investment comes at a time when Index Ventures sees the potential to turn Josh Wood Colour’s “great initial suite of products” into a global e-commerce business, said Danny Rimer, partner at Index Ventures and recent addition to the board of Josh Wood Colour. Rimer also cited the brand’s “striking similarities with our other direct-to-consumer retail investments… led by passionate area experts looking to transform their industry.”
Worth an estimated £322 million ($421 million) in the UK alone, the at-home hair colouring market is famously dominated by multinational brands such as Henkel, Kao Corporation, L’Oréal and Coty. But an increasingly younger consumer demographic interested in DIY hair colouring presents new opportunities for emerging direct-to-consumer companies. According to data from Mintel, 57 percent of 35 to 54-year-old women use at-home hair colour, while the number drops to 43 percent for women aged 55 and over.
“It is also a category with a high [rate of] dissatisfaction,” added Rimer.
Josh Wood cut his teeth as a hairstylist training at Vidal Sassoon’s salons in Leeds and London, before working with Sassoon himself in New York and moving back to the UK to set up his own business. He counts Florence Welch, Reese Witherspoon, Elle Macpherson and the late David Bowie among his clients, and has styled hair for catwalk shows including Prada, Miu Miu, Valentino and Marc Jacobs. Wood has also been Redken’s global colour creative director since May 2017.
Disclosure: Index Ventures is part of a group of investors who, together, hold a minority interest in The Business of Fashion. All investors have signed shareholder’s documentation guaranteeing BoF’s complete editorial independence.