San Francisco Equity Partners buys beauty brand Japonesque

Target: Japonesque

Sponsor: San Francisco Equity Partners

Seller: Karen McKay, owner

Financial Advisor: Aspect Consumer Partners, LLC

Scott Potter, managing partner at San Francisco Equity Partners (SFEP), said the firm sees growth ahead for Japonesque consistent with its other portfolio companies, which include non-prescription reading glasses maker ICU Eyewear, natural home care brand Method Home and natural personal care products maker Yes To.

“There’s a lot of demand for what they’re doing in the prestige and the mass-market retail channel,” Potter said in a phone interview.

Potter said the company has doubled its revenue and EBITDA in the past 18 month by growing distribution to bigger chains including CVS, Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada and others.

The firm won the deal after about a year of talks with McKay.

“We got to know Karen through a mutual advisor,” Potter said. “She had some exponential growth in the past 18 months and wanted to further professionalize the company, build resources and capture momentum.”

Inspired by the makeup tools used in Kabuki theatre in Japan, Japonesque products include make-up brushes, eyelash curlers, tweezers, make-up cases and other accessories. It’s expanded into cosmetics more recently.

The deal by the San Francisco-based firm marks its latest transaction targeting consumer-oriented companies with revenue of $20 million to $50 million.

The 10-year-old firm has been investing with support from a concentrated set of institutional LPs.

As founding managing partner of San Francisco Equity Partners, Potter formerly worked as managing director of LMS Capital’s North American private equity and venture capital portfolio. He was also president and CEO of Quiver Inc, a software company sold to Inktomi. David Mannix works with Potter as a partner at San Francisco Equity Partners. Richard Conti, operating partner at the firm, currently serves as CEO of ICU Eyewear.