When I took this idea to Sephora Asia, I said, “Because of the trip, this is something that I think will do really well.” And they — before they saw anything — gave me a contract. They were like, “Just go do it. We love it. We need it.” They’re always looking for new brands. But more importantly, I think they’re looking for brands that fit a certain price point. And that skew a little bit younger because that’s the next generation we are trying to cultivate. So I think we check a lot of boxes for them.
Allure: Something difficult here that you’re perhaps not giving yourself credit for is the challenge of launching a product for all of Asia. There might be a perception in the West that this is a monolithic region when really, you’re catering to a range of different tastes and spending habits.
Travis: Every single country has different regulatory needs. For example, in the U.S., it’s a free-for-all. You can pretty much do whatever you want. But in Asia, it’s very, very different. Singapore is more relaxed. Hong Kong has few restrictions. Then you have countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia that are really tricky. Like for example, in Thailand, you cannot use the phrase, “pigmentation corrector.” And in Indonesia, you have to justify every single raw material you use. They don’t recognize a bunch of the novel antioxidants that we use.
China is dropping its requirement for animal testing May 1, so I’m actually moving to Shanghai and setting up my China team. It’s a big play for us. But what I’ve learned is, in China, you can only have six percent acid content, max. Probiotics are not allowed in China. And in Japan, I found out that anything above 0.2 percent of salicylic acid is considered toxic. So now I have Japanese formulations, I have Chinese formulations, and I have China-specific packaging because you have to list out every single antioxidant, which I haven’t had to do before.
Allure: Do you have any advice for newer or aspiring founders as they think about funding their brands?
Travis: You have to be very purposeful with who you raise money from. Money is money is money, but it’s about who you want on your cap table, meaning who you want as investors. What we’ve been able to do is strategically build our network of angel investors: people with private equity experience, people who have run their own hedge fund, people who run their own product-packaging companies, people who have helped beauty brands IPO. All these people are on our cap table. I call them my kitchen cabinet. I go to them for advice, and it has been very useful.