EXCLUSIVE: Mutha Eyes Skin Care for Expansion

Cult-favorite body-care line Mutha began its pivot to skin care earlier this year — but founder Hope Smith has been eyeing the category since before the brand launched last year. “We started working on our formulas two years ago,” Smith said.

Mutha, which launched in fall 2019 with Body Oil and Body Butter, will introduce No. 1 Face Serum, $140, and Up All Night Eye Cream, $95, on its web site, Mutha.com, later this month. They join  Mutha Face Oil, which debuted earlier this year.

The brand is also broadening its distribution into Bergdorf Goodman starting in November. Currently it’s sold on its own web site and Violet Grey.  

Industry sources estimate Mutha has a first-year wholesale volume of about $2 million; sources predict that the expansion into facial skin care will help the business to grow 50 percent. According to the NPD Group, skin care has been one of beauty’s most resilient categories in 2020, in spite of the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The launches mark the beginning of an ambitious expansion plan for Mutha, which Smith originally created to address the body care needs of pregnant women. “If you look at our next 12 months, it is full of skin care launches,” she said. From there, the sky’s the limit. “We will be looking to step out of skin care a little bit, but that wouldn’t be for three, four years from now as a business,” she added.

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Both of the new products contain a proprietary blend of bio-fermented active ingredients including a hyaluronic acid complex, kefiran and rice peptide, which Smith has dubbed the Muthaload Skin-Conditioning Core Technology. She said the brand worked with a chemist trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop the products.

Working with her own chemist has been game-changing for Smith, who gears much of her product messaging around ingredient education. “When you don’t have your own chemist that represents you, it’s a different relationship,” Smith said. “Working with a lab, they ask you what color the product should be, what texture it should be. They’re not asking you what you want this to do for the skin, and they’re not letting you do six month consumer studies.”

Speaking of studies, Smith said the serum, which she expects to be the hero product, got rave reviews from all study subjects. “Every single one of our consumers who used it and tested it has begged to buy more,” Smith said. “Every single person on the panel.”

“As an aesthetician, breaking down labels was a part of my life for the past 17 years. It was more of a passion for me, and it still is,” Smith said, who developed her first product, the body butter, by herself when she couldn’t find any effective stretch mark remedies on the market during her pregnancy. “I’m always inspired by what I personally want but can’t find. If there’s something I want and can’t find, or wish was different, I’ll try to make it,” she said.

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