Good morning, Broadsheet readers! JPMorgan settles Jeffrey Epstein claims, a new UN report shows pervasive bias against women around the world, and we meet the CEO of Hailey Bieber’s skincare brand. Happy Tuesday!
– Rhode to success. Last October, Melanie Bender started a new job in the beauty industry—one that came with an immediate audience of 50 million. The 38-year-old exec became the CEO of Rhode, Hailey Bieber’s skincare brand.
Rhode had launched that June, making it through a bumpy start featuring a trademark lawsuit. (The brand is named for Bieber’s middle name.) The brand that sells $16 lip treatments and other skincare products directly from its website reached eight-figure revenue within six months—and only 11 days of actual sales thanks to sold-out inventory. And there are 1 million signups for its product waitlist.
Bieber’s fanbase—50 million across Instagram and TikTok—fed the frenzy. They follow 26-year-old Bieber’s modeling career and her life with husband Justin Bieber on social media. Plus, they trust her recommendations as a lifestyle influencer. Their collective power was evident to Bender right away.
Most of Rhode’s customers are under 35. The vast majority of buyers are between 18 and 24.
“Those consumers are notoriously difficult to gain because they are so informed, they are so skeptical because they have grown up with access to social media,” Bender says in her first interview since starting this job. “They’re also consumers that are trendsetters. So when they latch onto something and integrate it into their routine, we see it take on an even bigger role with other demographics.”
Besides appealing to Bieber’s existing fan base, Rhode has tried to stand out with simplicity. Its tagline is “one of everything really good.”
“The consumer is feeling really inundated and confused by all these options,” Bender says. “Rhode addressed that mindset by launching a really tight-ended assortment that does what you need it to do and what it says it’s going to do.”
Bender joined Rhode after leading the “clean skincare” brand Versed as founding president through a period of hyper-growth during the pandemic. She’d previously worked for a beauty manufacturer that produced products for private-label brands. Originally from Hawaii, Bender studied aerospace engineering and sustainability in college before winding up in beauty after moving to New York.
She says she decided to accept the job at Rhode, which had about five employees when she joined, because of Bieber’s position in the beauty industry. “To me, there is no other founder in beauty like Hailey in terms of the amount of credibility she has,” Bender says.
Bender’s experience at Versed attracted the Rhode team to her as a candidate. “I was so excited to bring on Melanie as CEO in October last year,” Bieber says in a statement to Fortune. “We have big plans for Rhode and the business, and Melanie not only is an expert in scaling brands, but understands my vision.…[She is] a true collaborator and having her onboard allows me to spend more time on the creative and product development side of the business, which are big passions of mine.”
Today, Rhode is part of beauty trends like the “glass skin” and “glazed” aesthetics. While Bender appreciates the relevance that such a young customer base—and founder—brings, she’s also aiming to build a “generational brand” that lasts. “It’s not just selling products, it’s building trends and behaviors in a pretty major way,” she says.
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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
– Settlement. JPMorgan Chase has reached a tentative settlement agreement with the victims of Jeffrey Epstein, agreeing to pay $290 million, pending the presiding judge’s approval. The victims sued the bank for allegedly ignoring warnings that Epstein could be involved in human trafficking. Court proceedings have revealed some damning evidence, but both parties said it was in the best interest of the victims to settle. New York Times
– Remember when? Growing up, Frank founder Charlie Javice was fairly normal, albeit extremely driven. That’s what her peers told Fortune‘s Luisa Beltran, who’s published a new feature on the millennial entrepreneur’s impressive rise and epic fall. Javice sold her startup to JPMorgan for $175 million but now stands accused of inflating user numbers. Javice has pleaded not guilty. Fortune
– Opposites attract. For years at SpaceX, Elon Musk has leaned on president Gwynne Shotwell to run day-to-day operations while he concentrates on passion projects. Musk is trying to create the same dynamic with new Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino. Still, Musk and Yaccarino are an odd pair; she is a seasoned ad exec, while he has voiced his “aversion” to advertising. Wall Street Journal
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Carrie Lozano is the new president and CEO of ITVS. American Express exec Anna Marrs has joined the board of directors at DocuSign. Commercetools has appointed Roxana Dobrescu as the organization’s first chief people officer. Lindsey Argalas is being promoted to CEO at TaxBit. Bayer has appointed Asha Hope as VP and head of North America diversity, equity, and inclusion.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
– Taking over. Former Microsoft exec and founding CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Patty Stonesifer is taking over as interim CEO of the Washington Post. The change comes as owner Jeff Bezos increases his involvement in the business. As The Broadsheet reported last week, women’s leadership in newsrooms has surged in recent years. Vanity Fair
– From the suburbs. Former President Donald Trump’s indictment for mishandling classified documents (he denies wrongdoing) drives a wedge into a key voter block: suburban white women. While some remain dedicated to him despite his legal concerns, others say the charges confirm their decision to move on from his complicated record. Suburban women are seen as one of the only persuadable voting groups. Wall Street Journal
– Pervasive inequality. Global gender inequality has remained stagnant for the last 10 years, according to a new report by the UN. Nine out of 10 men and women have core biases against women, 43% of people think men are better business leaders, and more than one in four believe it is okay for a man to physically assault his wife. Reuters
ON MY RADAR
Lesbian bars have endured—with community, grit, and a little reinvention The 19th
A star reporter’s break with reality The Atlantic
Eva Longoria brings Latino life to the screen The New Yorker
How the right’s defeats gave us the anti-LGBTQ moment Vox
“The reality is, there is nothing that feels as good as giving another person hope. Every single day, it’s a little jolt of dopamine or oxytocin to watch someone light up and be like, ‘No, we can do this.’”
—Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen on how her outspokenness has moved the needle.