The Dealmakers: The people making the industries’ most impactful deals
Group president, acquisitions and West Coast headquarters, L’Oréal
As trends like the great resignation and quiet quitting swirl globally, Carol Hamilton, L’Oréal group president of acquisitions and West Coast headquarters, is making the most of her day job.
In the last year, Hamilton helped secure L’Oréal’s latest acquisitions in Los Angeles-based indie brand Youth To The People in December 2021 and clinical skin-care company Skinbetter Science in September. She also managed to take the reins of L’Oréal USA’s second company headquarters in El Segundo, California outside of L.A. The 100,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor space opened in August, and is the home to L’Oréal’s California brands NYX Professional Makeup, Urban Decay and Pulp Riot. It also sets the company up for more transactions on the West Coast.
Despite the ever-changing nature of beauty, Hamilton has stayed at L’Oréal for 39 years, making her a case study in longevity and growth at a single company.
“So many people have asked me, ‘Why have you stayed there so long?’ and ‘Did you know this is where you’d be so many years later?’ And of course, I didn’t know. The surprising fact is that, when there could have been an urge to jump or take a nibble from the outside, something really new presented itself at L’Oréal,” she said. “The company is the leader in beauty, and has high ethics and a great intellectual approach to beauty. And I really believe the smartest people work here. I never had to leave because I was constantly challenged and energized by different opportunities and the people around me.”
Hamilton has led the L’Oréal acquisitions team since 2018, and in that time, the deal landscape has changed at a rapid clip. The beauty market is deluged with a constant sea of brands. Some have long-standing businesses, while others experience just moments of fleeting success. Still, Hamilton has been able to identify bright spots.
Of Youth To The People, she said, “I met the founders before the brand even launched, followed them, mentored them, got to know their family, and then saw how the brand was growing and how their relationship was developing in Sephora.” Hamilton also emphasized the brand’s blend of high-performance ingredients, including superfoods, authentic messaging and progressive stance on social justice issues. “Their team is built on diversity,” she said.
Skinbetter Science, meanwhile, plays into L’Oréal’s Active Cosmetics segment made up of brands like SkinCeuticals and CeraVe. ”They were in the same playbook as SkinCeuticals,” said Hamilton, “When we analyzed that segment of the market and understood that consumer preference in skin care means that the more efficacious it is, the more attractive it is, the group was very excited about the target. Every dermatologist would recommend Skinbetter Science in his or her office.”
Hamilton wouldn’t disclose where her acquisition interest lies next, but she did share that she is always looking to fill gaps in L’Oréal’s portfolio. “We analyze gaps, not just in a specific category or product, but also in terms of a business model or a service gap, or even a psychographic gap.”
But if there was any throughline between Youth To The People’s Greg Gonzalez and Joe Cloyes and Skinscience Betters’s Jonah Shacknai, Justin Smith and Seth Rodner, it’s that founders matter. “We focus on the long game, and we focus on not having to clean something up. We want to build off of a strong foundation that these founders have already built.”
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