American multinational conglomerate Estée Lauder Group has made a minority investment in the Chinese clean beauty brand Codemint, its first-ever investment in a Chinese beauty brand.
Codemint’s founder Grace Chow has been teasing the partnership in vlogs on her social media accounts since February, but New Incubation Ventures (NIV) (the early investment and incubation department of Estée Lauder China) has now confirmed their new stake in Codemint, although they did not reveal the size of the investment.
Codemint was founded in 2021 by fashion blogger and reality star Grace Chow, who is motivated by the drive to make clean beauty a mainstream concept in China. Leveraging the fame garnered through her high-profile breakup with a popstar and subsequent appearance on reality TV, Chow launched the brand in a Weibo livestream and sold out the same day.
Since then, Codemint has garnered a reputation as China’s leading clean beauty brand, attracting angel investment from Korean cosmetics manufacturer COSMAX, its first early-stage investment in any brand. Chow also has an 8-year-old namesake clothing label, which had reached 100 million RMB in annual sales on Taobao by 2021.
Shana Randhava, senior vice president at NIV, said Estée Lauder plans to invest in more “cutting-edge” brands like Codemint in the future to expand its brand portfolio into new regions, channels, and niche consumer groups.
NIV may be looking to eventually acquire a majority stake in Codemint. According to KrAsia, Randhava noted that “getting involved in the early stages of a brand’s development lays the foundation for developing an end-to-end acquisition strategy.”