Timing, they say, is everything. And the timing seems right for a body care renaissance. Many categories—color cosmetics, skin care, hair care—have had their fair share of disruptive innovation in recent years. But body care is due for an update. And, Meant took full advantage of the moment and used IBE LA to launch its collection for distribution beyond the brand’s initial ecommerce presence and a select few boutiques.
But timing, of course, isn’t everything. What goes into building and growing a brand very much decides what a brand becomes.
“We have put thought and consideration into every detail from what ingredients to include or not include; determining to produce here in NYC with an organic chemist; hiring a female-led creative design agency for our branding and packaging, and using sustainable or reusable packaging to help with our environmental footprint,” Lindsay Knaak-Stuart, founder and CEO of Meant, tells Cosmetics Design.
When Knaak-Stuart says ‘we’, she’s referring to herself and her husband, who helps out with Meant (but hasn’t quit his day job).
It’s early days for Meant, which launched in April 2017. Just now Knaak-Stuart describes the brand as “a self-funded business….Everything we make, we put back into the brand."
"I'm not taking a salary yet," she says, "but someday I hope to!”
Meant is squarely situated in the body care category. “The beauty industry is focusing on the face,” observes Knaak-Stuart “and for obvious reasons, we all want to look our best and people are willing to spend money to do so.” This focus makes body care all the more accessible for a new brand, and it makes body care consumers all the more disposed to appreciate a new vision.
“The skin is the body's largest organ and its surface area covers a lot of ground, so making the switch to natural and non-toxic body care products can have a positive impact on your health,” points out Knaak-Stuart. “I didn't see a lot of brands focusing on body care and the white space told me there was an opportunity for a brand like Meant.”
Meant isn’t a women’s brand or a men’s brand or an androgynous brand—it’s a brand for everybody. It’s a brand for people.
“I think where we landed is unique, differentiated and still speaks to both men and women,” Knaak-Stuart tells Cosmetics Design. “We're not overly feminine, and we're not androgynous either.”
“Everyone is doing black and white packaging!”
“In such a crowded marketplace,” explains Knaak-Stuart, “I knew that Meant needed to stand out to do well. I specifically briefed my design agency that we needed to look unlike anyone on the market and to take design cues from other industries like fashion instead.”
Asked to describe the brand’s design sensibility further, she says, “Meant's design is simple, modern, unisex, direct and unlike any other beauty design out there.”
“I'm really inspired by Scandinavian and Japanese culture and design as well as minimalist brands like Cuyana, Parachute Home, HAY, and Melo,” admits Knaak-Stuart—which puts her right in step with contemporary beauty trends and explains how the unpretentious brand manages to look so handsome on the shelf.
Knaak-Stuart believes that consumers “crave simplicity but they don’t want to sacrifice style.”
As is true for many new personal care brands, the Meant portfolio is small. There are only five products in the collection. For Meant, this is not the misfortune of an unfunded indie startup; this is a key aspect of the brand’s identity.
“Meant is all about fewer products that do more. We're actually telling you to buy less which isn't a common sales tactic of traditional CPG brands,” Knaak-Stuart tells this publication.
And, she sees the less-is-more philosophy as a viable approach to growing the brand as well. “Having ‘multipurpose’ as our brand positioning is a really good filter and editing tool for staying true to our identity and keeping our offering streamlined,” says Knaak-Stuart.
“If a product doesn't multitask two to four different ways, it won't make it into the line. There are a few additional products we can develop to round out our body care offering, but the future growth opportunity for Meant will come with vertical brand extensions. I've concepted Meant as a lifestyle brand so expansion into Meant Baby or Meant Home is possible down the line.”
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com 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.