Alessandro Carlucci and Florencia Jinchuk, a Flopi, founder of The Chemist Look
Alessandro Carlucci chairs the councils of Arezzo and Business for Social Responsibility (SBR), is chairman of the Advisory Board of the Towerbrook Impact Fund, is a member of the boards of Renner and the Deming Center at Columbia University, New York, where he lived for 7 years.
But it’s The Chemist Look, a Uruguayan skincare startup he became an investor of in 2020, that appears to be facing a unique challenge. His 25 years in Nature, including ten as CEO, one of the largest beauty companies in the world, full of “processes and patents that slow it down”, acquire another dimension in contrast to a beauty tech that he himself defines ” provocative “.
“It’s different from a lot of things I’ve experienced. One of the things that attracted me was the fact that it’s an agile company that knows what it wants to do. Flopi has an opinion on things, it doesn’t bother to follow trends “.
Flopi is the Uruguayan chemist Florencia Jinchuk who, during a master in Cosmetic Sciences, decided to create the blog The Chemist Look in which she questioned the “accommodation” of large companies in product formulations. It was from there that she began developing her own cosmetics and introducing them to the community that followed her.
In 2015 he created the brand so that innovations in the gym would soon reach consumers “because skin is in a hurry” and has grown 700% since then. Having established itself in Uruguay, Chile and Argentina, The Chemist now lands in Brazil with the expectation that the country will represent 50% of the business and reach a turnover of R $ 20 million this year. In up to three years, he intends to plant his flag in the United States.
Brazil is the fourth largest cosmetics market in the world, according to the Euromonitor survey, which has spurred the emergence of several digital native brands in different categories.
Among these are Simple Organic, which was bought by Hypera, Just For You, which has Eurofarma as its main investor, and Salvve, which, like Chemist, was an offshoot of a blog created by influencer Julia Petit. On the international stage, The Drunk Elephant became an icon when it was bought by Shiseido in 2019 for $ 845 million.
In this increasingly fierce dispute – in the United States alone, the beauty tech market is expected to move $ 3.4 billion by 2026, according to a report by the consulting firm Statista – Carlucci and Flopi have big claims.
“We want the brand to be relevant, restless, provoke, with responsibility, safety and break the paradigms of the sector. This is the most important. That’s what’s always on the table, ”says Carlucci.
Carlucci met with The Chemist Look on Columbia’s program for Latin American entrepreneurs, ECLA (Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness in Latin America). In 2018 he was invited by the institution to be consultant from economics school and continued to mentor Flopi.
But it was two years later, when the entrepreneur and scientist was facing the challenges of the Argentine market, that he was invited to invest in the venture. After all, Carlucci had worked as Natura’s regional director in that market.
“I accepted, of course. IS independent brand very vigorous dermocosmetic, ”he says he recently expanded his investment in Chemist, but does not reveal the value of the investment. The other investor is Sergio Fogel, co-founder of Uruguayan dLocal, a technology company listed on the Nasdaq and worth 6.1 billion dollars, making the entrepreneur a billionaire, with a fortune of 1.3 billion dollars. , according to the magazine Forbes.
After launching its brand in Uruguay in 2015, The Chemist Look “grew fast” and soon Flopi expanded into Chile and Argentina. Carlucci’s entry not only allowed us to face the challenges of the Argentine market – “we are very happy” – but also to prepare for entry into Brazil. “It was the next frontier, being in the largest country in Latin America,” says Carlucci.
To this end, they are implementing a different strategy from other markets, omnichannel. “Since I moved to Sao Paulo, I have understood that it was important to go offline in the country. And to speak to the audience we want, we will be selling outside of our e-commerce for the first time, ”says Flopi.
They have thus entered into a partnership with the Drogaria Iguatemi chain “which is always looking for different brands, which believes in content and acts as a testimonial for the demanding public”, says Carlucci.
Right now, the brand will operate in São Paulo, but by the end of the year it is expected to reach other states, particularly the South, “where women invest more in skin care,” says the former CEO of Natura. But nothing is in a hurry, like getting into multi-brand cosmetics.
“I lived in a company that had a channel and a product at the same time. This is no longer the case. Flopi doesn’t want to be in a channel just to grow. If you can’t bring the brand’s DNA, the content, we won’t. This is fundamental ”, says Carlucci.
By investing in signature formulas, in a model that it calls “conscious formulation”, Flopi tries to create products that combine classic ingredients with biotechnology. “Pure vitamin C, for example, is excellent for the skin. The challenge is to contain the oxidation. Thus, we have created a path to give the best possible stability with the available scientific resources. Our innovation is to make it last longer and be more effective in contact with the skin “.
Therefore, instead of launching more products per year, Flopi focuses on improving the formulas, in a process of constantly updating the versions of existing articles. “What’s best today isn’t always the best in science. Science humbles people because we can’t know everything. Tomorrow we can always have a better option. “
The boosters, super moisturizers for facial treatments that cost between R $ 180 and R $ 375, are the big differentials of the brand thanks to their efficiency. In this category, he understands that his main competitor is Skinceuticals, from L’Oreal. In terms of digital communication, of enhancing the scientific content of its products, it sees an approximation with Biosense.
The first batch of products that arrived in the country was imported from Uruguay, but Flopi and Carlucci plan to produce in the country. “It’s just a matter of time. We’re on our way, but it makes perfect sense to have a base in Brazil,” says the founder of The Chemist Look.
Carlucci admits that he needs to “control himself” because he cannot do in Chemist what he did in Nature. But at the same time, his experience of him helps to get around the obstacles he knows all too well. When they talk about the best way to scale the business, for example, he sees the potential in taking this “DNA” into new categories, turning it into a beauty brand and not just a skin care brand.
But Flopi says it is not yet “scientifically” prepared. “If you don’t have a way to add value, there is no point in doing it. As a scientist it is a responsibility and as an entrepreneur I need to add value and make different products. I have not yet been able to develop a product for the body that brings a relevant innovation, for example “.
On the other hand, when they discussed whether it was worth making a mold to have a distinct packaging, which would translate all the differences in the brand, he vehemently opposed it. “Smaller companies have neither the time nor the money to develop their own mold. It’s ready. This is what big companies do that slow them down. It’s the kind of thing to avoid and I’ll be here to say: let’s not do it, ”says Carlucci.
“Molding takes time and for each new market you have to develop a local supplier and it has an environmental cost. It’s better to work with standard packaging and be mobile in any new market, ”she says.
The restless Flopi thus defines the next steps. “I want to scale with impact and not scale with growth. This is what I want to do as a science and as an industry. “Carlucci makes its weight.” My vision, knowing two different companies, one super big and Chemistry, is like this: we will have to be disciplined and say that the big ones do it and we won’t do it unless we become them. That simple. “
The executive wants to enhance the attributes it has identified in Chemist from the start. “What caught my attention in Chemist’s business model is a coincidence with my story, my learning. The brand has a community called ‘skinintellectuals’, fans who spontaneously advertise the brand, help in product development, ”says Carlucci.
“It reminds me of the consultants, the strengths of direct sales which is the sector I have been part of for a long time, but in a contemporary key”. People who like Chemist, she says, spend their time suggesting products, giving opinions, creating content. They are consumers motivated to participate in processes digitally.
“This is one of the borders with which we can expand. How to have skinintellectuals in brand expansion? How to exploit this resource? How to use the strength of the individual? ”Asks Carlucci, excited to be part of a new moment in the beauty sector.