Unilever Makes Inaugural Investment in Sustainable Fragrances – The 7 Virtues
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Lead investor, Unilever Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Unilever Group, has joined forces with True Beauty Ventures, a US based investment firm specializing in scaling beauty and wellness brands to complete the first institutional financing round for The 7 Virtues. This is the first time either investor has chosen to invest in the fragrance category reflecting their confidence in The 7 Virtues and the growing beauty and wellness industry.
The 7 Virtues stands as a beacon of social and environmental consciousness pioneering the clean and sustainably sourced fragrance category. Founded in Canada in 2010 by entrepreneur, author and activist Barb Stegemann, the brand is the thesis of her best-selling book – The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen – a woman’s guide to living and leading in an illogical world. The 7 Virtues crafts perfumes that transcend the conventional, exuding benevolence to both our planet and the human soul. With a high 22% fragrance oil concentration, their long-lasting aromatherapy fragrances are meticulously designed to harness the power of scent to propel clients toward their aspirations. The brand’s mantra is Make Perfume Not War, and they do this by advancing period equity in North America and globally. The company is pending B-Corp certification.
The 7 Virtues’ contemporary fragrance collection includes a sought-after mix of heroes, Vanilla Woods, Coconut Sun, Cherry Ambition, Lotus Pear and Santal Vanille, which are available exclusively on the brand’s website and at Sephora in 18 countries including Canada, US, UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Ingredients are sustainably sourced from around the world. The fragrances are also cruelty-free, hypoallergenic, and free of phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, and sulfates. The brand has earned the Clean + Planet Positive seal from Sephora, awarded only to the most ambitious clean and planet-positive brands.
Notably their perfume Vanilla Woods has established incredible loyalty as the sought-after favorite at Sephora. Vanilla Woods is so loved it is being bundled with a copy of The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen book during holiday, the first book ever sold at Sephora US & Canada online and in stores.
The 7 Virtues global sales outpaces the fragrance industry’s growth with year-on-year revenue growth of over 80 % in FY 2023.
“We are thrilled to partner with Barb Stegemann and The 7 Virtues for Unilever Ventures’ first investment in fragrance. The 7 Virtues has cracked the code on creating long-lasting, perfumes using sustainable ingredients that their loyal customers love, along with their empowering and authentic story,” says Anna Ohlsson-Baskerville, Partner at Unilever Ventures. “Driven by its philosophy, The 7 Virtues is elevating from an exciting indie brand to a legacy brand and we’re delighted to be a part of its growth journey.”
The joint investment from Unilever Ventures and True Beauty Ventures will equip The 7 Virtues with the resources to open a New York office to bolster their team and magnify its global expansion with Sephora to create significant inventory to keep up with the rapid demand and open a “Maison” in Nova Scotia, Canada, where clients can come visit and create their own bespoke perfume with classics like Vanilla Woods and Cherry Ambition.
This partnership is emblematic of not only a strong business collaboration but also a shared mission to drive positive transformation within the fragrance industry and the communities to which The 7 Virtues supports through its social enterprise.
“We set out to change the world through fragrance, to sow the seeds of prosperity over conflict, and now our perfumes are peace. When Sephora took a chance on our little known brand in 2018, they told us they loved that we take on serious world issues, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” says Stegemann, CEO of The 7 Virtues. “Our goal to advance period equity as a means to build peace by empowering women at home and abroad and giving them back control over their reproductive rights is the path to lasting change.”
Cristina Nuñez, True Beauty Ventures Co-Founder and Partner, says “True Beauty Ventures takes immense pride in this partnership as our investment mirrors our shared aspiration for a beauty industry that is both responsible and transparent.” Additionally, Rich Gersten, True Beauty Ventures Co-Founder and Partner, shared True Beauty Ventures’ excitement about the fragrance brand’s projected growth:”When an indie brand like The 7 Virtues outpaces brands with million dollar budgets, they prove the revenue potential is explosive with the right type of support, which we are excited to provide as this team takes The 7 Virtues to the next level. We were incredibly impressed by the brand’s strong productivity in fragrance, due in part to the most innovative, authentic guerilla marketing tactics that resonate with clients.”