Lauder’s New Incubation Ventures Invests in Next Generation Fragrance Brand Vyrao
LONDON — New Incubation Ventures, the early-stage, strategic investing and incubation arm of The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., has taken a minority stake in Vyrao, the British fragrance brand that promises far more than pleasing scents.
An announcement is expected Monday.
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Founded by Yasmin Sewell — who’s spent much of her career in fashion working with retailers such as Browns, Barneys New York and Farfetch — Vyrao offers a series of unisex fragrances with the added benefit of “energetic healing.”
Each 50-ml. bottle contains a Herkimer diamond crystal, a type of quartz said to clear the body’s chakras, or energy points, and allow for spiritual energy to flow.
Vyrao’s latest scent, The Sixth, was developed in collaboration with International Flavors and Fragrance’s Science of Wellness Program, which studies brain activity and corresponding emotions attributed to various scents.
“We are in a new era of scent and how we can use it to feel better,” said Sewell, who founded Vyrao in May 2021 with Selfridges as the exclusive stockist.
Sewell said Vyrao “wants to keep innovating by creating products that go beyond traditional wellness and fragrance, and support our spiritual and mental well-being. To have ELC’s support and guidance is a huge validation for me personally, and an honor.”
Shana Randhava, senior vice president, New Incubation Ventures, said that Sewell’s “ability to reimagine the convergence of luxury, wellness and fragrance is expanding our understanding of the functional benefits of the category. We’re excited to join her on the journey of defining what health and well-being looks like as it relates to today’s consumer’s connection with beauty.”
When she started the company, Sewell brought friends and former colleagues along with her, launching with a group of founding partners and collaborators with a wide range of skills. That group continues to hold a majority stake in Vyrao and will be working alongside the team at New Incubation Ventures.
New Incubation Ventures said it partners with “forward-thinking founders to create, fund and support the best emerging beauty brands globally. The team sits within the Estée Lauder Cos., and has confirmed investments in several brands, including Vyrao, Haeckels and Faculty.
Lempriere Wells, the Melbourne, Australia-based M&A specialist and global investment bank, advised on the deal. The terms were not disclosed.
In an interview, Sewell said the investment will go toward amplifying Vyrao’s marketing and ad campaigns; supporting retailers in the U.S., Australia and Japan, and educating consumers about the brand’s mission.
Vyrao is planning to launch a new scent in May, and is looking to develop other categories “beyond the traditional beauty and wellness realm,” Sewell said. Vyrao also offers candles and incense, with body care and other products in the pipeline.
Sewell said it’s particularly important “to continue educating and inspiring people with our message. It’s difficult for us: we’re not a traditional fragrance brand, but we’re quite often sitting in retail stores alongside traditional fragrance brands. But Vyrao has a deeper message, and we need staff who can really tell the brand story. Otherwise it’s forgotten and lost.”
British perfumer Lyn Harris created the original Vyrao fragrances, while Sewell tapped the Honolulu, Hawaii-based “energist” and healer Louise Mita, founder of The Art of Energy Inc., to add a spiritual, and restorative, dimension to the products and integrate the Herkimer diamonds in the fragrances.
The fragrances have names such as “Witchy Woo,” “Magnetic 70” and “Free 00,” and are made with plant and flower-based ingredients. They contain familiar notes including Italian bergamot, orange flower absolute, juniper wood, frankincense and Turkish rose oil, with each blend meant to impart a different sensation, or power.
The 50-ml. fragrances cost 135 pounds, and sell through the Vyrao website and retailers including Selfridges, Liberty, Saks, Violet Grey, Mecca in Australia and United Arrows in Japan.
The latest fragrance, The Sixth, is meant to fire up “mindfulness and intuition,” and costs 165 pounds.
It is part of an emerging group of juices known as neuroscents, next-generation functional fragrances birthed from advanced science and backed by facts. They are created with olfactive notes meant to elicit emotional responses that are neurologically proven.
Sewell said she launched Vyrao because she was interested in creating a luxury product that could address people’s emotional, and physical, well-being. “Scent is such a powerful tool for healing and well-being,” said Sewell, who is also trained in Reiki.
The name Vyrao derives from the Latin verb vireo, which means “I am verdant,” or “I am vigorous” and Sewell said the fragrances have been designed to integrate positive energy into everyday life.
Sewell believes the consumer mindset has changed considerably since she launched the brand two years ago.
At the time, “I was worried that some people wouldn’t understand what we were doing. Energetic healing is not something that a lot of people are comfortable with. It’s not something that necessarily resonates with people. You can’t see it, yet there is science behind it,” she said.
That’s all changed. Today, fragrance-makers are homing in on brainwaves’ reactions to scent in the quest for emotional responses and a sense of well-being.
The deal is the latest from Lempriere Wells, which plans to open its first European office later this year, in Paris, as it builds momentum in the U.S. and Europe.
“We used our global network, engaging top-tier strategics, consumer private equity and high net worth [individuals],” to close the Vyrao deal, Lempriere Wells said in a statement. “Ultimately [The Estée Lauder Cos.] was the perfect choice for a visionary founder who is pushing the boundaries.”
Last year, Lempriere Wells brokered the sale of the Australian skin care brand Grown Alchemist to L’Occitane Group.
The company, which is majority owned by Alice Wells, its managing director, specializes in global, mid-market M&A for high-growth consumer brands, with experience in the health and wellness, beauty, personal care and skin care sectors.
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