Kristin Ess, Maesa Resolve Dispute
Celebrity hairstylist and social media influencer Kristin Ess and Maesa have reached an agreement after the former sued the beauty brand incubator last year to reclaim her rights to her eponymous brand, and be free from “unreasonable restraints” on her business.
In a series of Instagram stories this week, Ess explained to her followers that she was “thrilled” that they could get to this place in the partnership, adding that she was excited to see what the future holds for this brand.
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“After seven years of commitment and dedication to this brand, we both wanted to try once more to work things out privately. It wasn’t easy and it took us many months, but we were ultimately successful and I’m so thankful to all that were involved in these difficult discussions,” she wrote.
“Our new path continues to prioritize the KEH [Kristin Ess Hair] customer while amplifying the vision of the brand, which remains centered around affordable luxury and high performance.”
She did not disclose details, while her lawyer, Michael Rhodes, said: “The parties have amicably resolved their dispute.” A representative for Maesa did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Ess, the cofounder of tutorial site Thebeautydepartment.com who codeveloped the Kristin Ess Hair line in partnership with Maesa and launched it exclusively in Target in 2017, revealed the lawsuit in a series of Instagram posts in November.
“I am suing my partners for several reasons, but the primary one being that I was misled during this partnership,” she wrote at the time. “They sold themselves to me as a beauty brand incubator, touting their ability to launch, grow [and] eventually sell my brand to ensure its continued success. Instead of holding true to their commitments, they’ve continued gripping onto my brand, using it as a piggy bank to fund their many other ideas. Their actions are not fair to me, or to the long-term growth of Kristin Ess Hair.”
The suit also alleged that Ess learned that a representative from L’Oréal contacted Maesa to inquire about a potential purchase of the Kristin Ess Hair business, an opportunity that Maesa did not pursue.
According to the suit, the line is now sold online and at retailers across Canada, Europe, Southeast Asia, South Africa, Australia and beyond, and was expected to generate more than $250 million in retail sales last year. The business represents more than 50 percent of Maesa’s revenues, it said.
Maesa started out manufacturing private label brands, but moved into incubating brands such as Drew Barrymore’s Flower Beauty as well as Kristin Ess Hair. In September, Gianni Pieraccioni, the company’s CEO since 2021, stepped down for personal reasons. He was replaced by Piyush Jain, a Unilever alum of more than 20 years.
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