Gone are the Panteen days when one product is “strong and beautiful”. Customization and personalization are two major trends driving the beauty industry forward. As a result, consumers demand products that are a direct extension of themselves, their needs and their preferences. Meet Prose, a hyper-tailored hair care company that allows customers to craft their own shampoo, conditioner and hair mask according to their hair goals and needs. So let’s hair (pun intended) how the founders got started!
Prose launched in December of 2017 with a simple idea, to create the best hair possible! This has been brought to fruition by customizing the manufacturing process and integrating technology into the on-boarding of customers. So how does it work? We sat down with co-founders Arnaud Plas (CEO) and Paul Michaux (VP of Product) to discuss their past, the present and the learnings.
“Arnaud and I met when I got hired to work at L’Oreal. We were on the same team and given our French background we became friends quickly. As a man, I find the beauty industry very fascinating since my gender is not typically the primary user.” It wasn’t until one night over drinks that Arnaud shared his vision with Paul about disrupting the hair care industry. “I had originally started my career in home care products and quickly moved into skincare, body care, and hair care.” Fun fact: Arnaud and his dad started a business together back in 2010 to sell construction hardware in Europe online. Hence, this isn’t his first rodeo!
“We wanted to use personalization to fix a pain point in the industry and reinvent the market for professional hair care.”
Arnaud wanted to change the relationship between high salon clientele and products. While most prestige brands tackle one or two hair benefits, Prose tackles all! “The idea was to partner with individual hair stylists and empower them by creating personalized products for their clients via a diagnostic test. We sought out experts in artificial intelligence to create a software that is constantly learning via a feedback loop to process data and create fresh mixtures of ingredients, unique to each hair goals and needs.” Taking that one step further, Prose can also be accessed online where customers are encouraged to take a detailed quiz on their website in order to receive their personalized products in the mail shortly after.
On Finding The Right Team
We know that Arnaud and Paul met while working at L’Oreal, but what about the remaining two co-founders? Yup, that’s right, Prose actually has four founding members! Arnaud tells us how he remembers mentioning to his barber “that I was going to be starting a hair care company and he insisted that I get in touch with a chemist, Catherine Taurin. At that time, Catherine was creating custom hair products for a salon and had been in the industry for over 35 years. She has been vital to our R&D success!” On the other hand, Arnaud was introduced to CTO, Nicolas Mussat via one of their early investors. This clearly goes to show that the author, Paulo Coelho was right when he mentions in The Alchemist, “the more you talk about what you want, the more likely the universe will make it happen.”
“We wanted to start with Per Se but were unable to due to trademark laws. We actually ended up changing our name post-seed round (they have raised $7 million so far after Series A) and were introduced to Red Antler to rethink our name and overall brand identity right before our launch. As an American company with French roots, we wanted to have a name that sounded good in both English and French. Voilà, Prose: your unique way of expressing yourself!”
If you are looking to start something within the beauty sector, here is our two-cents for you:
Surround yourself with the right people from the beginning.
Identify what industry trends are taking place and how your idea can fall into that formula and last over fads.
While the barrier to entry in the beauty category is low, finding a good chemist has an extremely high barrier. Do your homework and partner with someone for product creation.
Talk to as many people as you can, you’ll never know where the grapevine leads you.
Once you get a sample, start a waitlist pre-order campaign online for traction.
Priced at $24 and above, Prose’s products contain 76 natural ingredients that are free from parabens, sulfate, mineral oil, GMO and cruelty. Stylists also have the opportunity to make a commission when they sign up with Prose to promote the products to customers. If you are interested in getting in touch with Arnaud or Paul, drop us a line and we’ll see how we can make magic happen.
Photo courtesy of Prose.