Indie Beauty Profile

Melisse Shaban, Virtue Labs

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

(photo credit: Frank Terry)
(photo credit: Frank Terry)

Related tags Hair Keratin Hair care

In her Indie Beauty Profile, Melisse Shaban, founder of Virtue Labs, concisely discusses the science that makes her brand’s hair care products distinctly different from other shampoos, conditioners, and hair styling products. And, she’s quite candid about the time and expertise it took to develop and launch such a compelling indie brand.

Iconic haircare products are often the result of savvy nuances in application or formulation; or they benefit from innovative molecular technologies. If Virtue Labs is to become a category disrupting product (along with the lines of dry shampoo, Pantene, or Olaplex), it will be for the latter reason.

Here, the beauty entrepreneur behind this impending haircare revolution, shares a profile of herself and the brand.

Name: ​Melisse Shaban, Founder and CEO

Indie Beauty Company: ​Virtue Labs

Launched: ​February 15, 2017

Headquarters:  ​Raleigh, North Carolina

Cash flow:​ Virtue Labs fiscal year coincides with the calendar year and Shaban tells Cosmetics Design, I’m proud that in less than a year, we have 7,000 digital buyers, and are on track for 20,000 by the end of 2018.  Also, 33% of our customers have already repurchased.  We will be in 200 salons by year end as well.

Team work: ​25 full-time employees

Distribution: ​Virtue Labs products are sold on the brand’s own ecommerce site and at select salons.  We are also available on HSN, says Shaban.

Years in beauty: ​25+

Years at Virtue Labs: ​6 (5 years in development and 1 year since launch)

Entrepreneurial experience: ​Much of my career has been in the health and beauty industry, much of it working directly with founders and entrepreneurs. Early on, I was named General Manager of Aveda, working with founder Horst Rechelbacher.  From there, I worked with Anita Roddick as Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of The Body Shop in the Americas.  Later, I served as the CEO of Frédéric Fekkai, followed by StriVectin.  For the past six years, I have been working on bringing Virtue to life.

The business: ​The whole idea for Virtue started with this miraculous technology, which was never intended for use in hair care at all.  Alpha Keratin 60ku is a patented form of the human protein keratin that was developed in the study of regenerative medicine to help severely wounded military soldiers – with beneficial applications for bone, tissue, and nerve regeneration.  By chance, it was also found to have enormous benefit for repairing hair.  Contrary to other “keratins” you might have heard of, which are highly processed animal by-product, this is a unique protein that is derived from human hair, and carefully extracted to remain whole and fully functional. Because it is essentially hair, it “sees” cracks of damage, and goes where it’s needed to repave and heal the damage, giving you your best hair possible. It was seeing the amazing, transformative results this technology has on damaged hair that made me want to share it with the world.

The wow-factor: ​Clinically proven, biotech-based hair care that targets and corrects hair damage in all its forms. Virtually identical to keratin in its native form, Alpha Keratin 60ku is accepted by the hair as a natural extension of itself…and has been clinically shown to restore structural integrity for improved overall hair health. After 5 uses, Alpha Keratin 60ku is proven to deliver up to: 138% increase in color vibrancy, 95% split end repair, 86% reduction in breakage, [and] 67% reduction in frizz.

The customer: ​Women 25+, but really anyone looking to achieve their healthiest, most beautiful hair

Milestone moment: ​Press has been phenomenal, earning more than 2 billion impressions since launch.  Virtue products have also been recognized with 10 editorial or industry awards so far.

Advice for fellow indie beauty entrepreneurs​: Live to fight another day.

Just one: ​Asked about her go-to product, Shaban says, it’s Virtue Recovery Shampoo and Conditioner.



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.


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