Arcaea: Re-Imagining the Beauty Industry through Expressive Biology

“The diversity of life forms, so numerous we have yet to identify most of them, is the greatest wonder of this planet.” — E.O. Wilson

Wittington Ventures is excited to share that Arcaea (pronounced Ar-kay-uh), a new company built on the Ginkgo Bioworks platform, launched today with the mission to build a new, regenerative future for the beauty industry through expressive biology — where biology is used as a creative tool for self-expression.

Armed with $78M in new funding from a Series A round — which Wittington Ventures proudly participated in — Arcaea will grow new ingredients and product experiences for beauty through biology. The company will do this by leveraging technology such as DNA sequencing, biological engineering, and fermentation to activate unique storytelling that can only be told because of the power of biology.

The launch of the company comes at the perfect time for the beauty industry. There is an accelerating shift in demand among consumers for products that are not made from the same materials and chemicals that have been the default choice among humans for centuries. Today, consumers are actively expressing a clear preference for products that are natural, non-toxic, and environmentally sustainable — all while providing the same or superior performance to what is already in the market. This means saying no to harsh ingredients that are not good for human health, removing the need to formulate recipes with dangerous “forever chemicals’’ that pollute our planet, or relying on animal-derived products. We at Wittington Ventures, like the team at Arcaea, believe that expressive biology holds the key to responding to these customer demands while still exceeding their expectations on product performance.

Arcaea is well-positioned to disrupt key sub-segments of the $500 billion beauty industry with higher performing sustainable ingredients and brands in categories such as skincare, body care, haircare, and fragrances. There are a few key secular consumer trends evident in the beauty industry that suggest now is the time for expressive biology technology to infiltrate the space and shift a growing percentage of the $500 billion in spend towards its favour:¹

  • Growing consumer demand for ingredients with clinical results: After years of the beauty industry focusing on “natural” brands, in 2020 “clinical” brands (whose products or ingredients were formulated in a lab or have ties to science) grew at a much faster rate and far outpaced “natural” products.² These clinical brands align their products and formulas with scientific therapies. Moreover, for each $1 of advertising, these businesses generate $3-$4 of revenue, suggesting that consumers are responding to their value proposition.
  • Clinical results with higher performing, sustainable ingredients: Consumer interest in higher performing solutions, healthy appearance, and sustainable ingredients have led to the sustainable beauty market growing roughly twice as fast as the $160 billion skin care market.³

Arcaea will be entering the market with game-changing products and ingredients. We’re talking: a fragrance from a now extinct flower; proteins that can memorize how you style your hair; contouring through skincare and not just makeup; and biological skin filters that protect you from the elements. For consumers that live and breathe all things beauty, the potential impact of these new capabilities simply cannot be overstated.

The Arcaea story is made even more compelling by the leader at its helm — Jasmina Aganovic. When we first met Jasmina in the Summer of 2020, we knew she had all the right experiences and characteristics as a leader to usher in a new era for the beauty industry. Jasmina brings more than a decade of industry experience translating innovation in beauty through brands and products at various beauty companies, including Fresh and Living Proof and the innovative microbiome beauty company Mother Dirt, which changed the way we think about sustainable and healthy skin. Over the past few months, we’ve been enthusiastically observing Jasmina as she builds an impressive team of equally talented industry professionals.

The $78M Series A brings together a mix of investor expertise across the value chain of the beauty industry to work hand-in-hand with the Arcaea team to achieve their vision. We are proud to have co-led alongside strategic and financial investors such as Cascade Investment (the Gates family office), Viking Global Investors, CHANEL, and Givaudan. We’re excited to use our expertise in retail and distribution to help tell the Arcaea story to customers all over the world.

If you’re a brand or retailer interested in learning more about Arcaea and/or the area in which it operates, don’t hesitate to reach out to us or the company. The entire beauty industry will have to work together to prepare for a future that is powered by the exciting potential of expressive biology. We’re enthusiastic about playing our part in connecting the dots to help make this a reality.

¹ Data from McKinsey & Company

² Data from NPD Group

³ Data from McKinsey & Company