Since Moon Juice hit the market in 2011, founder Amanda Chantal Bacon has received both adoration and ridicule in equal measure, on social media and in the smattering of profiles written about the 30-something, trying to understand her rise.
Moon Juice is the wellness brand beloved by Goop readers and known for its eccentric assortment of supplements that claim to boost health, vitality and libido. Described on its website as “a healing force, an etheric potion, a cosmic beacon for those seeking out beauty, wellness and longevity,” Moon Juice offers an assortment of plant-sourced “Dusts” and oils averaging $40 a bottle with the promise of improving well-being. Most are instructed to be mixed with water or milk and ingested, some are topical, and all provide the ability to buy into a very specific lifestyle, endorsed by the likes of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley.
There’s no denying Bacon has become a figurehead of the lifestyle and wellness movement: Today, with the rest of the country in on the secret, Bacon is cashing in as she continues to stake a claim in the lucrative wellness industry, now estimated to be valued at nearly $4 trillion dollars.
“The growth was really fast and surprising,” Bacon said. “I was making smoothies with my baby strapped to me, ringing people up while putting in the produce order and managing the shop and production. Then I got a call from an editor at Vogue. It started like that, with beauty editors calling and New Yorkers visiting and asking where they should go in Los Angeles. It was all word of mouth.”
Now, she’s figuring out how to keep up with demand, a process that has involved enlisting a new executive team, meeting with venture capitalists and expanding her roster of retail partners, which currently include Nordstrom, Sephora and Net-a-Porter. These retailers complement sales from boutique partners across the U.S., the company’s shops in Los Angeles and the Moon Juice e-commerce site, the latter of which Bacon said accounts for 30 percent of total sales currently.
Next up is brand expansion: Moon Juice is launching a skin-care line this summer, and Bacon is currently promoting her newest product, Super You, a supplement meant to reduce stress using four adaptogenic herbs. We talked with her about navigating that growth and the transition from indie cult brand to scaling for a mass audience. The following has been lightly edited for clarity.
Moon Juice is expanding its team and reach — how is that going?
It’s a funny brand story — I never really had marketing with Moon Juice until a few months ago. The whole nature of Moon Juice is, it was me, on my own, organically creating things. Now, seven years later, I dine with VCs every week, and am putting together a team that has been through acquisitions and mergers with major brands like Unilever. That was an important part of building the team, having veterans that are part of that process, somebody that knows how to scale.
That’s a lot of dinners with venture capitalists.
I haven’t actually accepted institutionalized money yet, but I’m so fascinated by the financial community, and I’ve learned a lot from talking to VCs. They love Moon Juice, and they’re sharks, and they want a piece of that, but I’m not ready to give that up since I have private equity. I have made mistakes with hires, and I’ve had to undo those mistakes, and in my mind, I see that as money and time lost. There have been stumbles, and then I got really clear on what it needed to look like. But the demand was there first, and that’s the important part.
Early support from celebrities and endorsements from publications like Goop helped Moon Juice take off. How has social media played into that?
I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for social media. The position that I’m in with the VC community now, and the position that I’m in with other mass American retailers, it’s all because of social media. I think a part of that really comes with the fascination with female founders. It’s a natural story that happened at the right time. I am a real person. I don’t have a college degree. I’ve never been to business school. I took a friends-and-family loan, which I’m still paying off. I was genuinely passionate about something, and so I started this thing. Now I’m actually building a brand that went from cult indie brand to moving into more of a mass brand, all while watching the evolution unfold on Instagram.
“The new jars of adaptogenic protein powders from Moon Juice represent an instant (and legit) smoothie upgrade. They’re as easy as it gets and addictively delicious, and they’ve already emboldened some of us to start experimenting with mixing the powders into some of our own favorite recipes for extra healthiness, extra tastiness, and extra general happiness. Whip up the 3 delicious, healthy, protein-powder hacks from @AmandaChantalBacon today on Goop.com.” – @Goop #MoonJuice
So now you’re making an exfoliating toner and cleanser. What prompted the foray into skin care? Did it have anything to do with the recent cultural obsession with “self care”?
The timing has coincided, but [skin care] has been underway for almost two years. It’s been an organic evolution — I’ve had editors and retailers ask me to do skin care for some time. I found it really annoying and thought, “Why would I? Who cares? I have more important things to address.” I didn’t have a lot of faith in the skin-care industry; it never appealed to me, never at all — that was, until I personally had a moment of, “Oh my God, this is what the mid-30s looks like! Things are changing. I’m not prepared for this!” Like everything I’ve ever made, it really got its start with, “Oh, I need this.” I use a lot of natural products and have for 10 years — there are beautiful oils that you can put on your face that cost $200 a bottle, and it’s a luxurious experience and has a great story, but it’s not changing my skin.
Given your focus on all-natural, plant-based ingredients, what was your process for creating the formula?
I spoke with editors, models and people that have to be on-screen all the time. I asked what product actually works, and everybody came back and said P50. I tried it, and it works. But it’s just about the most toxic thing you could ever imagine — it was actually outlawed in Europe until they reformulated it, because there’s formaldehyde in it. So I stopped using it, and I started working with a formulator to create one that was just as potent but completely clean. It’s been a yearlong process, and we’re almost there.
Besides “stay away from formaldehyde,” do you have any words of advice for fellow aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Go work in a bookstore. Just kidding — I think it’s really gotta come from your heart. Whatever you are doing should move you so deeply that you absolutely cannot not do it. Because the days ahead are long and hard and confusing and boring and trying. It’s like marriage. If you are not really in love with the person, do not even attempt marriage, let alone parenthood. I feel exactly the same way about a business.