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EXCLUSIVE: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Joins The Equity Studio, a New Investment Firm Backing Beauty, Wellness, Lifestyle Brands

This article was updated on March 27, 2024 at 5:00 a.m. EST.

LONDON — Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is joining a new firm known as The Equity Studio, founded by investor Anna Sweeting with the aim of offering funding and strategic advice to entrepreneur-led, consumer-centric businesses.

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The Equity Studio is launching with a principal investment vehicle backed exclusively by Sweeting and Huntington-Whiteley. The partners plan to put their muscle behind brands in the U.S., U.K. and Europe with revenues between $3 million and $20 million.

Sweeting said the ideal investment targets would be in the early to mid-stages of their development.

As part of the new venture, Sweeting has also formed an advisory board made up of international business leaders, strategists and entrepreneurs, including Huntington-Whiteley, who will press their diverse skills into action advising founders and helping to scale businesses.

The Equity Studio plans to invest in businesses across beauty, wellness and lifestyle, and the focus will be on value creation and empowering entrepreneurs. Sweeting and Huntington-Whiteley are planning to reveal their first investment soon.

In an interview, Sweeting said the aim of The Equity Studio is to align closely with founder-entrepreneurs and to scale brands that have “a proven track record of generating revenue, a clear path to profitability, and growth potential.”

She also wants to build “connectivity and trust” with founders.

“The landscape is changing so much, and these entrepreneurs need capital, but they also need [advice] from people who are navigating the landscape in real time. We’re positioned to help them refine their existing strengths, and to continue driving market share. It will be a magical combination when we can invest, and also guide them on the journey,” said Sweeting.

She believes there’s a gap to fill in the current landscape by backing successful, growing consumer brands that may be overlooked by other investors.

The macro environment, cost-of-living crisis and more cautious consumer have made fundraising even more difficult for these brands, which need money to scale.

Sweeting argues that founders need investors who believe in their operating principles, and who can come equipped with a “specialized and supportive ecosystem” to keep up with all the change in the market.

Her approach is out of the ordinary. Private equity companies can sometimes force companies to grow too quickly, load them with debt, and then offload them at a loss if the strategy doesn’t work out. Sweeting is taking a different tack. “We’re being patient, creative and flexible.”

She and Huntington-Whiteley said they are looking for founders “who are having an impact, who are determined, people who can seamlessly integrate marketing with cultural cachet, and create entertainment. Those are the brands that we’re leaning into,” she added.

Ideal investment targets should also have a strong product offer and a superpower, whether that’s in research and development, scientific or supply chain expertise, or proprietary data.

<a href="https://wwd.com/business-news/business-features/alo-stacks-supplements-as-it-continues-to-move-into-wellness-1236105978/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Rosie Huntington-Whiteley;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Rosie Huntington-Whiteley</a> and Anna Sweeting
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Anna Sweeting

Sweeting has spent her career helping to build and scale brands. She cofounded the investment company Vaultier7, and has backed brands including Gisou, 111Skin, Axel Arigato, Vestiaire Collective and DeMellier, among others. 

She is one of a handful of professional female investors who has founded and run their own investment funds and has held more than 15 board seats across her global portfolio.

Sweeting describes The Equity Studio as “an evolution” of her investment vision and her desire to support entrepreneurial businesses. She will continue to manage the Vaultier7 investments alongside those on The Equity Studio platform.

Asked about her choice of Huntington-Whiteley as an investment partner, Sweeting said the two women have known each other for a while, and share a passion for building brands.

“We come from very different perspectives, but they’re highly complementary. I am always looking for brands that have cultural heat and are underpinned by community and content. Rosie is leading culture and building brands with founders who are constantly looking at how to amplify their communities and how to be part of the cultural conversation,” she said.

Sweeting described Huntington-Whiteley as “an exceptional entrepreneur, with longevity across so many things. She quite literally builds value into everything that she does. She is a cultural catalyst and what I most admire is her astute ability to select and partner with talent and brands ahead of the curve.”

Huntington-Whiteley is a British institution. She has worked with Marks & Spencer for more than a decade, collaborating on makeup and lingerie collections for the retailer. She has appeared in campaigns, and on the runway, for Burberry, and is also well-known far beyond British shores as a former Victoria’s Secret Angel and an actress.

In 2018 she launched the beauty and wellness platform Rose Inc. and three years later followed it up with a collection of multitasking, eco-conscious color cosmetics of the same name.

For the Rose Inc. makeup line she partnered with Amyris, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Delaware court in August. Her brand was eventually sold at auction to the Hong Kong investor AA Investments.

Huntington-Whiteley has nearly 20 million followers on Instagram, and her recent partnerships have been with brands including Waterdrop, Anine Bing, Gia Borghini and Hunza G.

Huntington-Whiteley described Sweeting as “in a league of her own when it comes to identifying iconic brands early and supporting them, both from a capital perspective and as a high-impact strategic partner. We couldn’t be more aligned in our vision for the modern consumer landscape, and for creating timeless value and lasting impact. I really feel the moment is now to open up our capital resources and communities to accelerate incredible entrepreneurs.”

Meribeth Parker, current chair of the British Beauty Council and a member of the advisory board of The Equity Studio, said the consumer landscape is shifting quickly and Sweeting and Huntington-Whiteley are hyper-sensitive to the movements.

“I see in real time that capturing and holding the attention of consumers requires breaking free of tried-and-tested initiatives, and collaborating with [businesses that have] relevant audiences and moving into new possibilities. Anna and Rosie are both visionaries in understanding these dynamics and are practically tailor-made for shaping this ever-evolving consumer landscape together.”

Other members of the advisory board include Barbara Turner, chief executive officer and founding partner of Marcho Partners, a London-based technology investment firm; Ben Lewis, CEO and cofounder of Little Spoon, the online baby and kids’ food brand, and the investment banker and investor Luca Turco Liveri.

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