For Victoria Tsai, what started as a hunt for a solution to her own skin-care troubles turned into a multi-million dollar beauty business. A decade after founding the skin-care brand, Tatcha, Tsai is selling her company to the consumer goods giant Unilever.

Unilever announced the deal Monday and did not disclose the terms, though some outlets are estimating it clocked in at $500 milllion. The tie-up gives the San Francisco company, which is estimated to have booked $70 million in 2018 revenue, access to Unilever's distribution network across 190 countries. Tatcha landed at No. 21 on the 2015 Inc. 5000, a list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. Its three-year revenue growth ticked up 10,996 percent to $12 million in 2014.

"We are overjoyed to have found a parent to grow globally with, and to have a purpose-driven partner to ensure we can have a positive impact in our communities as we grow," Tsai said in the acquisition announcement. 

Tsai started Tatcha in 2009 after discovering that certain Japanese skin-care products used by the country's modern-day geishas helped remedy the acute dermatitis she had developed on her face. Seeing the potential for selling Japanese beauty products in the U.S., she sold her engagement ring, furniture, and car to raise funds to start her own company. After starting with the sale of oil-blotting papers, for which she found a maker in Japan, Tsai eventually developed her own product line and landed key retailers like Barneys and Sephora.

The Harvard Business School graduate told Inc. in 2015 that she had accepted an earlier offer to sell her company when the business was just getting started, but the deal fell through. "They left me at the altar," she said. The details of that deal are also undisclosed.

Vasiliki Petrou, an executive vice president at Unilever in charge of its Prestige portfolio, said her company views Tatcha as one of the best performing beauty brands in America. "Thanks to Vicky's passion and expertise, iconic products like The Water Cream and The Silk Canvas have become the cornerstone of long-term consumer loyalty," Petrou said in a statement. Neither company responded in time for publication. 

The Tatcha deal is just the latest in a series of acquisitions by major consumer products brands. Edgewell Personal Care snapped up Harry's for $1.37 billion in May. Before that, in 2018, Procter & Gamble acquired Walker & Company Brands, maker of Bevel men's grooming products and Form beauty products, for between $20 million and $40 million. And in 2016, Unilever purchased Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion.

Published on: Jun 12, 2019