EXCLUSIVE: Entertainment industry veteran Allen Shapiro and long-time investor John Howard have launched Celebrands, a company that will create, acquire and grow consumer facing brands with celebrity owners and partners, the duo tells Deadline.
They will be growing a business that started earlier with principal investments in three celebrity brands, Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation American Gin, Khloe Kardashian’s clothing line Good American and Kim Kardashian West’s intimate apparel venture, Skims.
Celebrands has closed on approximately $90 million in financing with $89 million from investors including Endeavor Group, Saban Capital and Clementine Investments as well as Howard and Shapiro. They’re raising another $11 million in what’s called a “friends and family” round.
The idea is to capitalize on the ever increasing influence of celebrities in driving commerce, looking for famous partners willing to leverage their brands on projects they care about. The celebrities own stakes in companies they actively help build and promote.
The success of their three investments thus far, the increasing power of celebrities as social media influencers and the current acceleration of online shopping trends (due in part to COVID-19) convinced the pair to go bigger in an admittedly crowded marketplace. They plan to build new companies or acquire “distinctive small ones that have yet to find an audience. Either way, it has to be a great product,” said Howard.
They have been talking about starting up a firm for four years, since they helped launch Good Americans. “We wanted to do a few to prove the thesis,” Shapiro said.
Of their first three investments, Aviation was sold last month to beverage giant Diageo for an estimated $610 million depending on sales, including a $355 million upfront payment.
Good American — “clothing designed for a curvier, sexier and stronger shape“ – and Skims — a “solution focused approach to shape enhancing undergarments” — are private so no financials are available. “Both companies are doing extremely well,” Shapiro said.
Celebrands as a formal entity is working on its first company — a beauty brand — to launch in early 2021. It’s looking at projects in fashion, health and wellness and anticipates backing at least several each year, accelerating over time, and eventually expanding into international markets, Howard said.
Shapiro, formerly CEO of Dick Clark Productions, is managing partner of Mosaic Media Investment Partners, an investment consortium targeting media and entertainment assets
Howard is a longtime investment banker and co-managing partner of Irving Place Capital (previously Bear Stearns Merchant Banking group). He sits on the Boards of Bendon Publishing, rag & bone, Frame Denim, Veronica Beard, Good American and Skims.
Celebrands was represented by Paul Hastings.