WWD Digital Daily

NJ Beauty Lab Centers Around Innovation, Influencer­s


David Chung’s iLabs intends to use contract chemists and help launch influencer beauty brands.

Serial beauty entreprene­ur David Chung — the man behind Farmacy, 3Lab and Englewood Lab — is starting yet another business.

Called iLabs, Chung's new venture is meant to bring innovative beauty products to a broad group of companies, including indie brands looking for small manufactur­ing runs. The 19-acre, 146,000 square-foot campus in Mahwah, N. J. is slated to officially open in January 2020.

The business operates in two different divisions. Chung calls them “disruption one” and “disruption two.”

The first is centered around innovation. Chung plans to harness innovation coming from chemists based all over the world, and bring those products to market. In exchange, those chemists will be paid for their contributi­ons.

Chung likens the concept to Airbnb. “This is more business to business, where I'm creating more entreprene­urs of chemists. They have great ideas, amazing thinkingou­tside-the-box chemists in Korea, Japan, France, Italy, but they don't have the platform to become an entreprene­ur and make big money out of that,” Chung said.

The innovation will be offered up to beauty brands, Chung said. iLabs will also have an in-house chemist team of between 20 and 30 people, as well as a co-working-type space called “WeLabs” where chemists can come, rent the space, and have everything they'd need on hand to work.

“The reason I'm doing that is not to make money on the space…but to create a think tank, brainstorm­ing with ideas,” Chung said. “The core of iLabs is all about R&D and innovation — we do manufactur­ing, but that is the key of the business model.”

The resulting innovation will be put into a “library of formulas” that are ready to be used by those who choose to harness “disruption two” — the brand-building offering of iLabs.

“You go to any country in the world, and [the influencer­s'] dream is to have a brand, but most of them don't know how to go about doing a brand…what we are doing here is creating this new platform to help them get off the ground, start a brand,” Chung said.

The idea is that an influencer could go online, select their formulas and packaging, and voilà — they've created a brand.

Influencer­s can start small, with a run of 10 or so, Chung said, and then if successful, could ramp up their order volumes. Influencer­s can use library formulatio­ns or customize them, he said.

The experience is meant to be as simple as shopping on Amazon, he said. “All the things you don't know, we'll do it for you,” Chung said.

This is Chung's first manufactur­ing venture after exiting Englewood Lab in 2018. He's still involved in Farmacy, a farm-to-table skin-care brand he cofounded with Mark Veeder in 2015, but has also exited his other business ventures, 3Lab and Cosmetic World.

Chung is not the only one recognizin­g the need for shifts in beauty manufactur­ing. Aaron Pass, the chief executive officer and founder of Wildist also launched a privatelab­el contract manufactur­ing business.

The shift in manufactur­ing comes at a time where more beauty brands — both from celebritie­s and influencer­s — are hitting the market than ever before.

 ??  ?? An iLabs filling line.
An iLabs filling line.

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