Julep to be acquired in big roll-up of cosmetics brands by newly-formed Glansaol

By John Cook
December 21, 2016

You’ve probably never heard of the beauty brand Glansaol, but you may very well in the near future.

The newly-formed company — led by former Revlon CEO Alan Ennis — emerged on the scene this week in a big way when it announced its intentions to acquire Seattle cosmetics upstart Julep, as well as the acquisition of cosmetics company Laura Geller and the planned acquisition of Clark’s Botanicals.

Glansaol, which is pronounced “Glan Sale” and whose name translates to “Pure Life” in the Irish language, said the deals were part of a strategy to “operate an integrated portfolio of global beauty and personal care brands, diversified across segments, channels and geographies.”

Julep, led by entrepreneur Jane Park, is well known in Seattle startup circles as an online retailer of nail polishes and other cosmetics. The high-profile company, which in addition to its line of cosmetics operates nail parlor salons in the Seattle area, raised $30 million in venture funding in an oversubscribed venture round in 2014.

Backers of Seattle-based Julep include Azure Capital, Madrona Venture Group, Altimeter Capital, Maveron, Andreessen Horowitz, Lady Gaga’s Manager, Troy Carter, and Precedent Investments, a joint venture capital fund financed by entertainment powerhouse Overbrook Entertainment’s James Lassiter, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. Its board includes Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff and Maveron’s Jason Stoffer.

The press release said the terms of all three acquisitions were not being disclosed. Giant private investment firm Warbug Pincus, a backer of Seattle area companies such as Avalara and Payscale, is helping to bankroll Glansaol.

We’ve reached out to Julep for a comment about the acquisition, and we will update this post as we learn more. UPDATE: In an email to GeekWire, Park said that the acquisition “made a lot of sense for our next stage of growth.” All of Julep’s 143 employees will remain with the new company.

“This kind of vehicle for founders to join forces with other brands facing similar challenges didn’t exist before,” she said. “Working with Glansaol gives us access to the capital and international relationships we need to grow faster.”

Meanwhile, Glansaol is positioning for big things in the beauty space, with help from deep-pocketed Warburg Pincus.

“Our objective is to build Glansaol into a world-class, global beauty and personal care company by acquiring, integrating, and growing a portfolio of premium, complementary brands, managed by a team of seasoned executives,” said Ennis in a statement. “I am delighted to be taking this first bold step. Each of the three brands we are acquiring today plays a specific and important role in our portfolio and will retain their individual brand autonomy and culture. I believe that our unique long-term view of building the next great beauty company, is appealing to both brand owners and the capital markets.”

The acquisitions of Laura Geller, Julep and Clark’s Botanicals mark the first major deals for Glansaol, with the company saying they were chosen because of their “inspirational founders, high quality products and unique position within the marketplace.”

In a press release, Julep founder Jane Park said she was “thrilled to be joining forces with Glansaol.”

“This new venture will enable us to continue on our path of rapid growth and social innovation,” she said in a press release. “There is really no other vehicle in beauty that exists today like Glansaol, and I am confident that through the collaboration and with their deep beauty and operational knowledge, Julep will be able to realize its potential.”

Julep has encountered some rough patches in recent years, laying off staff in 2015 and publicly blasting the Washington State Attorney General’s characterization of a settlement related to alleged deceptive business practices at the company. Crunchbase lists total funding raised for Julep at $55.6 million, and it ranked #29 on the GeekWire 200 list of Pacific Northwest startups.


John Cook is GeekWire's co-founder and editor, a veteran reporter and the longest-serving journalist on the Pacific Northwest tech startup beat. Follow him @johnhcook and email john@geekwire.com.

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