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St. Pete skincare company’s Instagram posts spark a deal with a national retailer

Margie Manning

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NAMAKA co-founders Lauren Albano (left) and Alix Brett

NAMAKA, a St. Petersburg-based skincare brand, is going national, after striking a deal with Urban Outfitters.

Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN), a retail chain headquartered in Philadelphia, is carrying four of NAMAKA’s 10 skincare products.

“They found us on Instagram and emailed us and asked if we would be interested in being part of their summer lineup,” said Alix Brett, NAMAKA co-founder. “They reached out to us in December and launched our products on their site in June, and they just re-ordered.”

NAMAKA products

The Urban Outfitters deal is a major benchmark for the St. Pete company, which offers high-end vegan and cruelty-free skincare products, formulated with a unique blend of plant-based botanicals and manufactured locally. The products are formulated to provide skin hydration and the packaging is designed to inspire joy and energy, said Lauren Albano, co-founder.

Brett and Albano launched NAMAKA in January 2019. They are St. Pete natives and former creative directors who struck up a friendship about six years ago. They have bootstrapped the company, with no outside investors.

“I owned and ran another business in the past, so I do have some entrepreneurial experience. I always loved doing my own thing and watching something I make grow,” Albano said. “Alix and I had been friends for a while. She was working in skincare manufacturing as a creative director and she fell in love with skincare. We kept talking about it and then said, why not.”

Brett has worked for a couple of startups, including in the skincare industry. “I think both of us innately have the entrepreneurial spirit.”

Both women had struggled to find skincare products that were high quality and affordable, with a vibe that resonated for them.

“We took a deep dive into how, as businesswomen and creators, we could make high-end, quality, plant-based products, first and foremost,” Brett said. “Then, we took it a few steps further to make sure we weren’t just another packaged good company, but instead a lifestyle brand that brought to life our shared ideals of adventure and plain old fun. This sentiment was carried from the experimental R&D stages on through to our customer’s doorsteps.”

The ingredients are inspired by the natural elements of Hawaii, a favorite place for both self-described “beach-loving, adventurous women.” The company is named after Namaka, who is a Hawaiian goddess of the sea.

All the products are made in St. Petersburg by a contract manufacturer.

They’ve been selling products primarily online through the NAMAKA website, with a small presence in a few brick and mortar stores. Because they’ve been busy launching NAMAKA, they haven’t done a lot of marketing, but they hope  the Urban Outfitters deal is a catalyst to get their products into more local independent retailers.

“We can’t wait to see how partnering now with local businesses will continue to not only help grow our brand but even more so allow retailers to offer a truly unique product,” Albano said.

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