Men’s skincare and grooming brand Art of Sport, co-founded by late basketball legend Kobe Bryant, has secured fresh funding and plans to grow its retail business by six-fold by next year.
The company closed a $6 million funding round led by CircleUp Growth Partners and was supported by other investors such as Mark Cuban, Bam Ventures, Darco Capital, NBA Veteran Wilson Chandler and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
The two-year-old brand has so far relied on Amazon, Target and its own web store for distribution, but is in talks with several national retailers and specialty retailers to expand its retail store footprint by next year, Forbes reported.
Art of Sports aims to become the Nike of Skincare by becoming a sports brand that is widely adored and purchased by non-athletes but focussing more on the unique skincare needs of consumers and professionals that lead an active lifestyle.
Bryant actively helped the skincare startup build its brand and marketing strategy, giving the fragrances used in its body washes, deodorants and shampoo names such as Compete, Rise and Victory.
The brand is also taking a page out of the playbook of retailers such as Adidas and Under Armour that has built its brand identity around helping athletes achieve high performance with their products.
“Those are brands that were born with a certain philosophy to service the athlete, to use that athlete in their journey as their north star, and bring everyone else along with them on a platform about empowerment and reaching your potential,” said CEO Matthias Metternich, who is also the founder of direct-to-consumer swimwear brand Cocodune.
While the company sells 14 different products through retailers such as Target, it is especially focussed on improving access to deodorants and body wash, which are two products that are still purchased in-store more than 90 percent of the time, Metternich told Forbes.
The company recently lowered the prices for the two product categories by $2 and is now selling them for $6.99, in an effort to give its products mass appeal.