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Gregg Renfrew Buys Beautycounter Back From Foreclosure

Updated April 18 at 3:09 p.m.

When private equity firm The Carlyle Group acquired a majority stake in Beautycounter in 2021, it was a groundbreaking deal for clean beauty with a whopping $1 billion valuation. But three years later, the partnership has ended on a sour note.

Due to a change in its investment strategy and Beautycounter’s underperformance, Carlyle wanted out and had been looking for interested parties with the help of Goldman Sachs, sources told WWD. On Thursday, it was revealed that the new owner is none other than founder and chief executive officer Gregg Renfrew, who announced that she would be buying her brand back from foreclosure.

The business’ holding company, Counter Brands LLC, is winding down and Renfrew is creating a new entity that will keep the brand’s name and assets. It will relaunch in two weeks.

As part of the changes, Beautycounter cut jobs Wednesday, but as of now, it is not known how many staffers were impacted. Its two freestanding stores in New York and Denver will close as it evaluates its retail strategy, but its seasonal store on Nantucket will remain open.

Renfrew was an early pioneer in the clean beauty space when she launched Beautycounter in 2013, creating the first of its kind “Never List,” with more than 2,800 questionable or harmful ingredients that the brand does not use in the company’s product formulations. 

It initially launched as a direct-to-consumer business, expanding to a salesforce of 65,000 direct sellers, and subsequently entered retail distribution, most recently with Ulta Beauty. As of January, it was in around 550 Ulta Beauty doors.

In January 2022, industry veteran Marc Rey was brought in as CEO, but he departed a year later. Renfrew returned as CEO in January 2024.

A spokesperson for The Carlyle Group told WWD that over the last three years, Beautycounter experienced significant market and channel headwinds.

“We undertook every effort to support the brand, including by increasing marketing spend, driving innovation to broaden the product portfolio, and enhancing the omnichannel strategy — and investing additional capital into the business to support these initiatives along the way,” the spokesperson said. “However, the business continued to lose ground. With the backdrop of significant near-term capital needs, we determined that exiting the business through a sale back to Gregg was in the best interest of all parties and ensured business continuity.”

The Carlyle Group has been public about its change in strategy away from U.S. consumer, media and retail companies since late 2023, instead focusing on technology and financial services. It’s not known what is happening with its investment in men’s grooming brand Every Man Jack, which it made in 2021, but media reports suggested it was exploring a sale.

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