Julep raises $30M in oversubscribed round, looks to build big beauty brand

Jane Park

Jane Park

With revenues more than tripling last year and new beauty products in the works, Seattle cosmetics and e-commerce powerhouse Julep has raised $30 million in fresh funding.

Azure Capital, Madrona Venture Group and Altimeter Capital participated in the round, joining existing investors Maveron and Andreessen Horowitz. Total funding in Julep — founded seven years ago by former Starbucks exec Jane Park — now stands at $56 million.

Interest was so high in Julep that the company had to turn away multiple investors.

“We have pretty ambitious plans,” Park tells GeekWire. “We are both expanding our innovation in the online shopping experience, as well as the physical products that we’re launching.”

julepwandThe latter marks a new arena for Julep, with the company earlier this year turning to Kickstarter to gauge interest in a new nail polishing tool called the Plié Wand that will debut next month. In addition to helping women more easily apply nail polish, the device will be part of a full mobile experience, allowing users to peruse various colors on their smartphones before applying the polish.

Park said more beauty gadgets are in the works, though she declined to offer specifics.

All aspects of Julep’s business are growing fast. While Park declined to offer specifics on revenues, she said the company now employs more than 200 people. “At this point, we are excited about taking the powerhouse organization that we’ve built, and really scaling it,” said Park.

Julep launched over 300 new products last year, with more in the works. Some argue that Julep, which features its nail polishes and other products online; in physical retail stores and via TV channels such as QVC, is not really a technology company. But Park disagrees with that assertion.

“We are both an innovative technology company, and an innovative beauty company,” said Park.

Madrona Venture Group’s involvement in the latest round is interesting, in part because the Seattle venture firm typically invests at an earlier stage. Madrona was a small investor already in Julep through its participation in the Alliance of Angels sidecar fund, but it had not participated directly in Julep’s first rounds.

Julie Sandler of Madrona

Julie Sandler of Madrona

Park said she hit it off with Madrona’s Julie Sandler, and noted that she’s excited to have so many “amazing heavyweights” from Seattle as part of the Julep team. Zillow’s Spencer Rascoff sits on the company’s board, while Zulily CEO Darrell Cavens has served as an advisor to Park.

Sandler said that Julep is unique in how it engages women in the product innovation process, one of the reasons she was excited to invest.

“Julep is the only company you see in in the beauty market that has figured out how to harness the power of social to deliver not only extremely addictive products to its rapidly growing customer base, but also a deeply engaging, interactive experience with the Julep brand and community,” Sandler said. “They’ve just nailed that.  The remarkable growth of the company and loyal engagement of customers speak to that beautifully.”

  • Michael Paulson

    Congrats Jane and team on a great round! Excited to see the products that result from this.