SeneGence International Names Three to Executive Team

Photo: SeneGence International Headquarters in Foothills Ranch, California.

Amid rapid sales growth, SeneGence International is adding three new faces to its executive team.

The cosmetics and skincare maker has promoted Steve Jarvi, formerly Vice President of Operation, to Chief Operating Officer. Jarvi’s experience within the beauty industry includes a stint as COO of a major cosmetics company, as well as Vice President, Operations and Finance, with a hair care company. Past responsibilities have included change management, organizational alignment, manufacturing operations, global supply chain, customer service and enterprise information systems.

Another appointee, Jerome Kaiser, is stepping into the role of Chief Financial Officer, a position he has held both inside and outside the direct sales channel. Kaiser began his career with professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, and later served in financial management roles with names like fashion label Liz Claiborne and dinnerware maker Mikasa.

SeneGence also is bringing in a new Chief Information Officer, Tom Doria. The technology executive has a background in network architecture and systems development in large-scale operations, having worked in senior management in the distributed computing and telecommunications industries.

“We are thrilled to have Steve, Jerome and Tom join our executive team,” said Joni Rogers-Kante, SeneGence Founder and CEO. “Their roles will be vital to support the rapidly growing Distributor base and help support our growing needs.”

Currently headquartered in California, SeneGence recently broke ground on a 225-acre corporate campus in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where it plans to consolidate operations over the next five to seven years. The beauty company is managing a growth spurt that, in the past three years, has yielded more than 100 percent sales growth year over year.


Beautycounter’s First Acquisition Brings Backing of Bono and Ali Hewson

Photo: Ali Hewson (left), Co-Founder of NUDE, with Gregg Renfrew, Founder and CEO of Beautycounter.

Nontoxic beauty brand Beautycounter on Monday announced the acquisition of NUDE, the natural skincare line co-founded by Ali Hewson, who shares a passion for social activism with her husband, musician Bono.

Hewson and Bryan Meehan, another ethical entrepreneur, founded the high-end skincare brand in 2007. NUDE’s mission to supply healthy and natural—yet high-performance—beauty products will sound familiar to fans of Beautycounter, which touts a Never List of known or suspected toxins banned from its products.

“Consumers have a right to know what is in the products they put on their skin, and they shouldn’t be faced with a false choice between safety and effectiveness,” said Hewson. “Beautycounter is leading the movement for better beauty and I’m excited to be joining forces with them.”

In 2011, luxury goods conglomerate LVMH bought NUDE and Edun, the sustainable fashion line founded by Hewson to promote local business in Africa. As part of LVMH, NUDE developed a global presence that could help to accelerate expansion at Beautycounter, which currently operates in the U.S. and Canada.

As NUDE transitions from its San Francisco office to Beautycounter headquarters in Santa Monica, California, Hewson will join the Board of Directors of Counter Brands LLC, the parent company of Beautycounter. Bono, Hewson’s co-founder Meehan, and global investor Paddy McKillen also will join the company as investors.

“In reaching more consumers with both Beautycounter and NUDE, we can advance support for our movement in Washington,” said Gregg Renfrew, who has used her platform as founder and CEO of Beautycounter to advocate for greater oversight of the beauty industry. “Ali and her team at NUDE share the same unwavering commitment to education, safer products, and better laws that will move the beauty industry forward worldwide.”

The news follows another major Beautycounter announcement in May, when the company unveiled a limited-edition partnership that will put its beauty products in Target stores this fall. In the past, Beautycounter also has collaborated with J.Crew and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.

NUDE is the first acquisition for Beautycounter since its launch in 2013. As the brands join forces, management said both will carry on business as usual for the foreseeable future.

Youngevity Says Revenue Rose 17% in Record 2015

Youngevity International Inc. (YGYI—OTCQX) on Wednesday said revenue was up 17 percent in 2015 to a record $156.6 million.

The company’s direct-to-consumer business, comprising a wide range of nutrition and lifestyle products, accounted for 89 percent of sales, while its commercial coffee business made up the remaining 11 percent. Gross profit for the year was $92.9 million, up 22 percent from a year ago.

The Chula Vista, California-based company lost $1.7 million, compared to a net profit of $5.4 million in the prior year, as a result of changes in the valuation of net deferred taxes in 2014 and about $7.5 million in non-cash expenses last year, including an extinguishment loss on debt and higher interest expenses. Operating income rose 61 percent to $5.4 million. Adjusted EBITDA reflected a 40 percent increase at $9.2 million.

“Once again we have generated record year-over-year revenue, gross profit, operating income, and adjusted EBITDA. We continue to encourage our shareholders to consider adjusted EBITDA, which mitigates the effects of non-cash expenses on our financial performance,” Dave Briskie, President and CFO, said of the results.

Management also noted that acquisitions made in 2014 and 2015 contributed $10.3 million in revenue to the direct selling segment, which grew by 20 percent in 2015. Thus, acquisitions drove 47 percent of revenue growth, versus organic growth of 53 percent.

Beachbody Launches Workout Streaming App for Apple TV

Following the July rollout of its Beachbody On Demand streaming service, Beachbody LLC is making the extensive library of health and fitness programs available for Apple TV.

The Santa Monica, California-based company has positioned itself at the intersection of technology and fitness with its new digital offering. A Beachbody On Demand subscription provides instant access to the brand’s popular in-home workouts, including offerings like P90X with celebrity trainer Tony Horton and Insanity with Shaun T. The service also rewards users with programs created exclusively for Beachbody On Demand.

Beachbody’s new app for Apple TV comes on the heels of a fall product release by the technology giant. In September, Apple unveiled the first refresh of its big-screen offering in more than three years. The latest Apple TV features the company’s all-new tvOS operating system and a redesigned interface using the Siri Remote.

“Through the Beachbody On Demand app for Apple TV, users are able to access and participate in the most premium, at-home fitness experience ever available,” Beachbody’s Chief Digital Officer, Bill Bradford, said in a statement. “Over the years, Beachbody has developed fitness and weight-loss products that consistently deliver results, and with the new Apple TV and its powerful new tvOS, our ability to reach new customers with the best on-screen navigation increases exponentially.”

Beachbody is offering all consumers an introductory 30-day free trial of its fitness library—which the company values at more than $3,000—while the service is in its beta phase. Existing Beachbody On Demand users can install the Apple TV app and link their account to their new device.

Heather Chastain Named President of Shaklee U.S. and Canada

Nutrition and personal-care products seller Shaklee has brought on Heather Chastain as President of Shaklee U.S. and Canada, a role supporting the growth and success of Independent Distributors in the company’s key North American markets.

Shaklee’s new President brings 20 years of experience in direct selling, most recently as Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer at another personal-care and wellness brand within the industry. In a statement, Shaklee describes Chastain as an executive with a “strong, collaborative and relational style of management and leadership.” Her previous roles have included responsibilities in sales, marketing, manufacturing and operations.

“We are very fortunate to have Heather join our Shaklee family. She is a superb executive with a proven track record of generating growth in the direct selling industry,” Chairman and CEO Roger Barnett said in a statement. “In addition, she is truly a delightful person and will be an outstanding partner to me and our entire Shaklee family.”

Over and above her corporate roles, Chastain has provided leadership to the wider industry by serving on the board of the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) and as Chair of the DSA Ethics Committee.

“Shaklee is an iconic brand in our channel with outstanding products and a strong track record of integrity and innovation,” said Chastain. “It’s exciting and such a privilege to be working with this group of professionals to help create the next chapter of growth for this legendary company.”

Pleasanton, California-based Shaklee reported revenue of $844 million in 2014, earning the No. 21 spot on this year’s DSN Global 100. The century-old company operates in eight markets through a network of 1.25 million Independent Distributors.

Natural Health Trends Opens Healthy Lifestyle Center in Southern California

Photo: Inside the Natural Health Trends HLC Plus in Monterey Park, California.

Natural Health Trends Corp. is establishing a brick-and-mortar presence in North America with the opening of its Healthy Lifestyle Center Plus (HLC Plus) in Monterey Park, California.

The retail space gives customers the opportunity to interact with trained staff and experience the company’s beauty, lifestyle and wellness products firsthand. Dallas-based Natural Health Trends is already operating 14 Healthy Lifestyle Centers across China, where regulations restrict direct selling activities.

“The opening of our first HLC Plus in North America will help address our members’ needs through real-time product fulfillment and customer support and provide our leaders in Southern California with a venue to host product training sessions and present the NHT Global business opportunity,” company President Chris Sharng said in a statement.

The company also has announced plans to open a second HLF Plus on the West Coast—this time in Vancouver, British Columbia—in the first quarter of 2016.

Modere’s New Marketing Center to Expand Digital Capabilities

Photo: Modere’s Marketing Center of Excellence is located in the Koll Center in Newport Beach, California.

Clean living brand Modere is enhancing its marketing operation with the opening of the Marketing Center of Excellence in Newport Beach, California.

The team at Modere’s new office will focus on developing digital, social media and business application tools to support the company’s social selling model, CEO Robert Conlee said in a statement. Modere, formerly Neways International, offers a range of safety-conscious personal-care products, health supplements and household cleaning products.

“Modere also will be investing further in its product innovation and leadership to promote ‘Live Clean,’ our modern and holistic approach to overall health. We are proud to have Z Capital’s backing in the pursuit of these goals.” said Conlee.

In July 2013 private equity firm Z Capital Partners LLC, part of Z Capital Group, acquired a minority ownership stake of Neways and became majority controlling shareholder of the company, which subsequently relaunched as Modere. The brand’s headquarters remained in Springville, Utah, where Neways launched in 1992.

Record Revenue Boosts Quarterly Earnings at Youngevity

Youngevity International Inc. on Monday reported record quarterly sales of its nutrition and lifestyle products. Revenue totaled $41.3 million in the third quarter, up 9.9 percent from a year ago.

Year to date, revenue has increased 20.8 percent to $116.9 million. In the third quarter, the Chula Vista, California-based company derived 90 percent of revenue from direct selling operations and the remaining 10 percent from its commercial coffee business. Gross profit increased 19.3 percent to $25 million.

Earnings climbed from $185,000 in the prior year to $416,000. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization remained flat at $2.1 million. The company reported an expense reduction of $1.1 million resulting from the change in fair value of warrant derivatives, due to the lower market price of Youngevity stock.

“We are very pleased with our performance to date, and we are on track for a year of record revenue,” CEO Steve Wallach said in a statement. “From an international perspective, we opened an office in Singapore, the gateway to the rest of Asia. The launch of the office has brought our products into this major market.”

Damsel in Defense: Arming Women with Tools and Confidence for Personal Protection

by Lin Grensing-Pophal

Click here to order the November 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 2011
Headquarters: Boise, Idaho
Founders: Mindy Lin, Chief Marketing Officer; Bethany Hughes, Chief Services Officer
Products: Self-defense

 Bethany Hughes and Mindy LinBethany Hughes and Mindy Lin

The data is startling. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly one in five women report having been raped at some time in their lives, another 5.6 percent have experienced sexual violence other than rape within the past year and 13 percent report experiences of sexual coercion at some time in their lives. For college women the numbers are even higher.

Coercing others to engage in sexual acts against their will has emerged as an international issue, with more than 21,000 human trafficking cases reported since December 2007, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center—and 12,490 tips or reports have already come in this year through August.

These are troubling statistics, even more troubling for the women counted in those statistics. So many feel helpless to defend themselves or aid others. But here’s where direct sales comes in: Two women decided to create a business in order to empower women to defend themselves.

Damsel in Defense, launched in 2011, is the first direct sales party plan company to sell self-defense products. It’s a mission-driven company, with products to protect women and proceeds to fund national and international charities, such as the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and Wipe Every Tear.

Company founders Mindy Lin and Bethany Hughes strive to educate women about how to protect themselves in dangerous situations.

Basic Beginnings

Like many entrepreneurs, Mindy Lin and Bethany Hughes started operating out of their homes, a situation that didn’t last long, however. They quickly outgrew their 120-square-foot office that housed them in 2011 and moved to a 6,000-square-foot space and, most recently, have built a 20,000-square-foot warehouse and office space in Boise, Idaho.

The beginnings of Damsel in Defense were humble and somewhat unplanned. The women met at a “moms group” in 2009, Lin says. “We were both transplants from California and both very safety-minded people.” The mothers in the group, she recalls, “didn’t carry anything to protect themselves besides themselves.”

About that time, she adds: “My household came …”

Click here to read the full story.

Beautycounter CEO to Advocate Cosmetics Safety Reform on Capitol Hill

Founder and CEO Gregg Renfrew and the team at Beautycounter are on a mission to clean up the beauty industry. This week Renfrew and other industry leaders are heading to Washington, D.C., to make the case for cosmetics safety reform.

In a Congressional briefing on Nov. 17, as well as one-on-one meetings, the group will educate lawmakers on the “Wild West” state of the cosmetics industry, as a statement from Beautycounter describes it. The industry has largely escaped the scrutiny leveled at other product categories, such as food, tobacco and medications. The last major federal law regulating beauty products passed in 1938. To date, the U.S. has partially restricted just 11 ingredients, while the European Union has banned about 1,400.

The need for safe, effective beauty products compelled Renfrew to launch Beautycounter in 2013. Based in Santa Monica, California, the company provides cosmetics and skincare products free of toxic ingredients. Under Beautycounter’s Never List guarantee, nearly 2,000 harmful substances are banned from the company’s products.

“At Beautycounter, we are leading a movement for better beauty,” Renfrew said in a statement. “We are a company that is pro-commerce and pro-regulation. While we have shipped close to 2 million products, we know it’s only the beginning—there is a lot of work to be done.”

Renfrew’s bold measures at Beautycounter are capturing the attention of the wider industry. Beauty Inc, a publication of Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), included Renfrew in its recent list of Beauty’s Most Innovative Thinkers. “Call her the queen of clean,” the editors said of Beautycounter’s outspoken chief executive. “With her direct-to-consumer brand, Renfrew has shown safe beauty can be chicly pragmatic rather than dogmatic.”