Rosie Huntington-Whiteley joins The Equity Studio, a new investment firm backing beauty, wellness and lifestyle brands

This article was updated on March 27, 2024 at 5:00 AM EST.

LONDON — Rosie Huntington-Whiteley joins a new company known as The Equity Studio, founded by investor Anna Sweeting with the aim of providing financing and strategic advice to entrepreneur-led, consumer-facing businesses.

More from WWD

The Equity Studio is launching with a lead investment vehicle backed exclusively by Sweeting and Huntington-Whiteley. The partners plan to put their power behind brands in the US, UK and Europe, with revenues between $3 million and $20 million.

Sweeting said ideal investment targets would be in the early to mid-stages of their development.

As part of the new venture, Sweeting has also formed an advisory board made up of global business leaders, strategists and entrepreneurs, including Huntington-Whiteley, who will put their diverse skills into action by advising founders and helping companies scale.

The Equity Studio plans to invest in beauty, wellness and lifestyle companies, and the focus will be on value creation and entrepreneurial empowerment. Sweeting and Huntington-Whiteley plan to announce their first investment soon.

In an interview, Sweeting said The Equity Studio’s goal is to work closely with founder-entrepreneurs and scale brands that have “a proven track record of revenue generation, a clear path to profitability and growth potential. ”

She also wants to build “connectivity and trust” with the founders.

“The landscape is changing enormously and these entrepreneurs need capital, but they also need capital [advice] of people navigating the landscape in real time. We are positioned to help them refine their existing strengths and continue to grow their market share. It will be a magical combination if we can invest and also guide them on their journey,” said Sweeting.

She believes there is a gap to fill in the current landscape by backing successful, growing consumer brands that may be overlooked by other investors.

The macroeconomic environment, the cost of living crisis and more cautious consumers have made raising funds even more difficult for these brands, which need money to scale.

Sweeting argues that founders need investors who believe in their operating principles, and who can be equipped with a “specialized and supportive ecosystem” to keep up with all the changes in the market.

Her approach is extraordinary. Private equity firms can sometimes force companies to grow too quickly, load them with debt, and then forgive them at a loss if the strategy doesn’t work. Sweetening is a different approach. “We are patient, creative and flexible.”

She and Huntington-Whiteley said they are looking for founders “who have an impact, who are determined, people who can seamlessly integrate marketing with cultural cachet and create entertainment. Those are the brands we are aiming for,” she added.

Ideal investment targets should also have a strong product offering and superpower, whether it is research and development, scientific or supply chain expertise, or proprietary data.

Sweeting has spent her career helping build and scale brands. She co-founded the investment company Vaultier7 and has backed brands such as Gisou, 111Skin, Axel Arigato, Vestiaire Collective and DeMellier.

She is one of the few professional women investors who have founded and managed their own investment funds and held more than fifteen board seats across her global portfolio.

Sweeting describes The Equity Studio as “an evolution” of her investment vision and her desire to support entrepreneurial companies. She will continue to manage the Vaultier7 investments, in addition to those on the Equity Studio platform.

When asked about her choice of Huntington-Whiteley as an investment partner, Sweeting said the two women have known each other for some time and share a passion for building brands.

“We come from very different perspectives, but they are very complementary. I’m always looking for brands with a cultural touch and supported by community and content. Rosie leads culture and builds brands with founders who are constantly looking at how they can strengthen their communities and be part of the cultural conversation,” she said.

Sweeting described Huntington-Whiteley as “an exceptional entrepreneur, with longevity in so many things. She literally builds value in everything she does. She is a cultural catalyst and what I admire most is her astute ability to select and collaborate with talent and brands at the forefront.”

Huntington-Whiteley is a British institution. She has worked with Marks & Spencer for more than ten years, collaborating on make-up and lingerie collections for the retailer. She has appeared in campaigns and on the catwalk for Burberry, and is also known far beyond British shores as a former Victoria’s Secret Angel and actress.

In 2018, she launched the beauty and wellness platform Rose Inc. and three years later she followed this up with a collection of multitasking, environmentally conscious color cosmetics of the same name.

For the Rose Inc. makeup line. she worked with Amyris, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August in a Delaware court. Her brand was eventually sold at auction to Hong Kong investor AA Investments.

Huntington-Whiteley has almost 20 million followers on Instagram and her recent collaborations have been with brands such as Waterdrop, Anine Bing, Gia Borghini and Hunza G.

Huntington-Whiteley described Sweeting as “in a league of its own when it comes to identifying iconic brands early and supporting them, both from a capital perspective and as a high-impact strategic partner. We couldn’t be more aligned in our vision of the modern consumer landscape and how to create timeless value and lasting impact. I truly feel like now is the time to open up our capital sources and communities to accelerate incredible entrepreneurs.”

Meribeth Parker, current chair of the British Beauty Council and advisory board member of The Equity Studio, said the consumer landscape is changing rapidly and Sweeting and Huntington-Whiteley are hyper-sensitive to these movements.

“I see in real time that capturing and maintaining consumer attention requires breaking away from proven initiatives and collaborating with [businesses that have] discover relevant target groups and new possibilities. Anna and Rosie are both visionaries in understanding these dynamics and are practically tailor-made to shape this ever-evolving consumer landscape together.”

Other members of the advisory board include Barbara Turner, CEO and founder of Marcho Partners, a London-based technology investment firm; Ben Lewis, CEO and co-founder of Little Spoon, the online baby and toddler food brand, and investment banker and investor Luca Turco Liveri.

The best of WWD

Leave a Comment