It is on the basis of a triple observation that Marc Briant-Terlet and Kim Mazzilli, founding duo of Horace and longtime friends, identified the need to develop a minimalist and effective skincare brand dedicated to men: for them, the formulas of the products present on the market were not qualitative, the advice was almost non-existent and the area of grooming remained connoted as feminine in essence.
The democratization of male beauty as a postulate
So much so that, in the imagination conveyed by advertising campaigns, brands found it necessary to push masculinity to its climax in order to uninhibit consumers in the purchasing process: “I have always kept in mind this ad from the early 2000s in which Dove featured several women, all very different from each other, thus encouraging them to free themselves from the dictates of a very stereotypical beauty. Until recently, these stereotypes were blatant in male cosmetology brands, yet no one had the desire or the ambition to reveal themselves as a football player or a Formula 1 driver by using their deodorant. By imagining Horace, we wanted to democratize male beauty with a brand in tune with the times, and above all with the expectations of men, or rather, of all men. And this, whatever their age, their skin tone, their morphology… The idea was clear: to help all men feel better about themselves, literally and figuratively,” explains Marc Briant-Terlet.
A carefully thought-out growth strategy
On November 14, 2016, after 18 months of development, the first two products in a long series were released: the purifying face cleanser and the mattifying face moisturizer which, to date, remain the brand’s bestsellers. “From the start, the idea of offering a complete range was essential. Entering through the face – a complex area that raises many questions from men and requires more technical products – would allow us to prove our expertise which would ensure Horace’s credibility when, subsequently, the body and hair “. Very quickly, thanks to a powerful social network strategy, proximity to its community, the apathy of competitors for e-commerce and the competition of Elise N’Kounkou, product development manager – and Marc and Kim’s first recruit – , everything is accelerating for the native digital brand of natural cosmetics.
Orders keep piling up and Horace’s growth increases as the facial range expands. In 2018, a change is taking place. The distribution strategy comes to accelerate Horace’s breakthrough. As soon as an iron curtain closes on a pop-up store, a new ephemeral shop is born in the capital, until the announcement of the first confinement. “We were about to open the first store when the pandemic was declared. Horace was forced to wait until June 2020 to inaugurate its first real Parisian point of sale, located Rue du Temple”, remembers Marc Briant-Terlet. Since then, Horace has taken up residence in Lyon, Toulouse, Lille and Nantes. A fifth Parisian store will soon open in Saint-Germain and it is only a matter of weeks before the symbolic threshold of 100 employees is exceeded.
Brand building: a dimension that escapes investment funds
The question of financing imposed itself on the co-founders, even before the production of the first two products. “After investing all our savings, we were able to count on private investors who immediately believed in Horace’s commercial traction. I am thinking particularly of Nicolas Santi-Weil, CEO of Ami Paris. Subsequently, in 2018, the BPI will also help us. Investment funds, for their part, have long turned their gaze away from so-called “consumer” companies. They are very tech-focused, the brand building dimension escapes them a bit and that’s normal. It is very difficult to assess the sustainability of a brand, especially when its customer acquisition model is organic, as is the case for Horace.“, explains Marc Briant-Terlet before continuing: “At least, the vertical did not move them until two events came to mark a turning point in the sector: the sudden notoriety of Glossier and the acquisition of Dollar Shave Club by Unilever for 1 billion dollars”.
In total, Horace will organize no less than five fundraisers at the rate of one per year on average. They will allow it to expand its teams to develop retail, launch new products and internationalize its sales.
Horace sets out to meet all men internationally
After the launch phase and in parallel with the acceleration phase on French territory, Horace gradually crossed French borders. On delivery to start. In several countries of the European Union, in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom where it quickly managed to nestle in the shelves of the prestigious Harrods. “Horace has its own warehouse there, we ship from there. That was the plan, the vision. Become men’s favorite skincare brand. Not only in France, but all over the world. Moreover, the name of the Horace brand had been chosen, among other things, for its ease of pronunciation in as many languages as possible”.
In 6 years, Marc Briant-Terlet and Kim Mazzilli have transformed a grooming startup with an e-shop into an ETI with 10 own shops and more than 200 points of sale. They aim to enter the top 3 of men’s hygiene and beauty brands in France within a few months and in the top 10 in the United Kingdom within two years and to do this they will be able to count on their own London showcase in early 2023.
Leave a Comment