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Skin Laundry Founder Julian Reis’ Latest Venture, SuperOrdinary, Nears $180 Million In Revenue As It Expands To Southeast Asia

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When Julian Reis and his wife Yen cofounded Skin Laundry in 2013, the company seemed to grow quicker than its signature 15-minute laser facials. The disruptive dermatology startup popped up in more than 20 beauty capitals around the world, from West Hollywood to Tribeca, then overseas to Hong Kong, London, and Dubai. The global appetite for beauty intrigued Reis, a former macro-trader. But of all the markets, China stood out to him most. 

In 2019, he launched SuperOrdinary to help cosmetic and personal care brands navigate the Chinese beauty market, an industry that is forecasted to reach $84 billion by 2023. “When I started Superordinary, I started in China because I saw the opportunity to start a one-stop partner to help brands accelerate itself globally starting with this huge market,” says Reis. He previously built hedge funds as well as an oil services business before becoming an angel investor and entrepreneur.

But from product registration to avoiding animal testing regulations, beauty companies aiming to expand overseas might quickly discover the process could get quite ugly. Reis designed SuperOrdinary as a global beauty incubator that makes foraying into new markets a little more “ordinary” and effortless, mainly by helping brands build a presence across multiple ecommerce and social media channels. Cult favorites like Milk Makeup and Farmacy as well as established brands like Malin+Goetz have partnered with SuperOrdinary to enter the highly-regulated Chinese market. 

Last year, SuperOrdinary’s revenue reached $90 million and this year it has increased by 100%. The growth is reflected in its portfolio brands. Skincare company Farmacy, for instance, hit shelves in the top three Tmall global stores in 2019. It has since grown at a 200% compounded growth rate over the last four years. 

In 2021, SuperOrdinary doubled its revenue to $180 million after expanding its list of brand partners with heavy hitters such as Drunk Elephant, The Ordinary, Supergoop!, and more. The beauty brand incubator, which has 300 employees, also launched its first-ever incubator brand LULA and entered a strategic deal with Amazon.

SuperOrdinary is now announcing a $25 million minority stake investment in CREA, an omnichannel brand partner covering the Southeast Asian market. The deal gives SuperOrdinary’s beauty brands a clearer path to reaching consumers beyond the United States and China, and into the emerging beauty markets of Southeast Asia. According to China Daily, beauty sales in Southeast Asia are expected to reach “$47 billion in 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 9.3% which will rival that of the Chinese market.”  

Aimone Ripa di Meana and Alessandro Piscini started Crea in 2019. Previously they founded Lazada, one of the largest ecommerce platforms in Asia, which was later acquired by Alibaba. With 200 employees, Crea has partnered with more than 70 prominent brands including Lancome, Kiehl’s, Clarins, and Body Shop. Over the last year, Crea’s leading portfolio brands have grown more than 400% in the region, and its revenue is expected to triple in 2022, according to Reis. 

SuperOrdinary guides individual brands through product registration, warehousing, distribution and more. But managing logistics is just the primer. When it comes to building brand awareness, “there is no shortcut,” says Reis.

“We go into these local markets and build brand awareness from scratch,” he says. “Even though it’s an American product it has to talk to and not talk at the shopper; we put on that local lens and that is the secret sauce to how SuperOrdinary has grown.” 

His team has notes immense differences in the shopping habits of the Asian beauty consumer.” They’re highly educated and spend a lot of time doing research around the product… It’s not uncommon to have 3-4 pages of text that support a single product,” says Reis.  

SuperOrdinary also helps brands identify the right marketplace, be it TMALL, Lazada, or Shoppee. Equally important is determining which social channels to tap, like Little Red Book, often dubbed the Instagram of China. 

But the biggest difference between beauty marketing in the U.S. vs Asia is the influencer market. (In Asia, they’re referred to as KOLs, or key opinion leaders) SuperOrdinary works with more than 50,000 agencies and influencers, and has seen enormous success in brands live streaming with KOLs like Austin Li and Viya. Says Reis, “The immense power of these influencers has created a channel unlike anything the world has seen. In Asia, the KOL culture is very different and the consumer is expected to be sold to, and in the U.S., if there is any hint of being too ‘salesy’,  the consumer will move, or unfollow.”

Reis says SuperOrdinary is not a one-way stream. For example, Sunnies Face, a Filipino cosmetics company, is working with SuperOrdinary to break into the States. “The team behind the brand is incredible, they’re amazing and have that passion we love to work with,” says Reis. SuperOrdinary is also not exclusive to Asia, as it is currently eyeing the beauty landscape in South America.