Dae Hair, the beauty brand by Influencer and serial entrepreneur Amber Fillerup Clark, announced $10.6 million total investment on Wednesday, following an $8 million Series A.
The new Series A was led by Verity Venture Partners, with participation from Digital Brand Architects — Clark’s influencer management agency — as well as fellow influencers Whitney Port, Aimee Song and Christine Andrew, and existing investor Willow Growth Partners. With the new investment, Clark said the brand plans to focus on building its Sephora partnership by “meeting customers in real life and doing more activations.” Continuing influencer relationships and leveraging social media and digital advertising are also priorities.
Clark has 1.3 million Instagram followers, and the @daehair account has 133,000. Dae launched in 2020 with three products: a shampoo, a conditioner and a leave-in conditioner. That March, it debuted at Sephora. Prior to launching Dae, in 2015, Clark launched BFB Hair, a hair extensions brand. Clark is also a trained hairstylist and frequently shares tutorials with her followers. Her credibility in the category will no doubt work to the brand’s advantage at a time when the premium hair-care space is booming.
In June 2021, Dae raised a seed round of $2.6 million, mostly from friends and family. Since then, it has built out its team, hiring its first president, Jenny Son, who previously worked in private equity. It has also embarked on its first paid marketing efforts. It’s also invested in expanding its inventory.
“Our first year, we didn’t really do marketing,” Clark said, noting that the brand had spent just five figures on marketing initiatives in the year after its launch. To spread the word about the brand, Clark has leaned on her following, as well as fellow influencer friends.
Clark is bullish on reinvesting in the creator economy, especially since she knows and believes in its power. And given Clark’s knowledge as a content creator herself, she is able to target how the brand works with different influencers. Partnerships, she believes, are not best served by a one-size-fits-all approach. “If [the creator] is really good at content, it’ll be a very content-focused partnership. But for some, their word-of-mouth and validation is most [valuable], and that will be the hero of the [partnership],” she said.
Mega-influencer Aimee Song (6.8 million Instagram followers), a fellow brand founder, also invested in the brand. “Of course I have been a fan of Dae products since Amber launched them, but more so, I have been a fan of what Amber has been able to create through Dae: an authentic commitment to her customer through clean products, community building and content,” Song told Glossy.
Song added, “As founder of my own apparel label [Song of Style], I know how much hard work and dedication goes into building a brand. But I also know firsthand what a positive reception it can have with consumers, especially when filling a white space or evolving a category. … What consumers want from brands is always evolving, and influencers are at the forefront of identifying and meeting those demands,” she said.
Tina Bou-Saba, co-founder of Verity Venture Partners, also stressed the value in investing in creator founded brands. “One of the biggest challenges facing consumer brands today is customer acquisition. The market is crowded, making it difficult for emerging brands to break through, and online customer acquisition costs have become prohibitively high,” she said. “Influencers who have credibility in a particular category can scale their brands much more quickly and efficiently than those who must build an audience from scratch. Moreover, their direct connection with their community creates a helpful feedback loop for product development and brand-building.”
This, however, is not a catchall and comes with important caveats, Bou-Saba said. Namely, influencer-brand alignment must be authentic, the brand’s business fundamentals and strategy need to be strong, and the brand must be able to stand on its own. “For an influencer-founded brand to be a great investment, it will need to become a strong brand in its own right, with an identity that is inspired by, but not dependent upon, its influencer founder,” she said.