Lime Crime is rebranding – can it make a comeback?

Under Andrea Blieden, Lime Crime – once the “most hated” beauty brand – seems to be making a comeback.

Founded in 2008 by Doe Deere (née Xenia Vorotova), Lime Crime has created a cult following for its eyeshadows and lipsticks, formulated in super luminous and unconventional shades. Major retailers including Urban Outfitters and Nasty Gal have snapped up its products, a win for the indie brand.

In 2014, Sephora – the holy grail of beauty retailers – started stocking Lime Crime. But, thanks to several high-profile controversies, what would have been a significant achievement quickly turned into a disaster.

Just a week after becoming a Lime Crime retailer, Sephora dropped the brand. Apparently, the retailer has received a deluge of complaints about the quality of Deere products, as well as its own problematic behavior.

Below is a summary:

About a month after Lime Crime launched, Deere took to her “blog” with a photo of herself dressed as Adolf Hitler for Halloween.

In 2009, members of the independent beauty community – a relatively small and tight-knit group of beauty bloggers – began to suspect that Lime Crime was buying eyeshadow pigments from wholesalers such as TKB Cosmetics, repackaging them and selling them. for outrageous markups. .

(To be clear: repackaging is a fairly common practice in the beauty industry, but Lime Crime’s lack of transparency understandably upsets customers.)

In 2010, beauty blogger Christine of Temptalia wrote a negative review of Lime Crime’s Unicorn Lipsticks. In response, Deere shared Christine’s personal email address with customers, urging them to contact Christine with their own positive product feedback.

In 2012, Lime Crime released a “China Doll” eyeshadow palette featuring a white woman in a Japanese kimono, along with the utterly inappropriate description: “Don’t let her milky skin, pouty mouth and blushed cheeks deceive you, under the posed facade, there is a tigress’s heart.”

In late 2014, Lime Crime’s website was hacked. Instead of notifying customers of the data breach via email, the brand posted about it on Instagram.

Lime Crime at Sephora was dunzo, and Deere’s past inequities were a hot topic of conversation. But that didn’t stop the brand from landing in hot water Again — in 2015, the FDA issued a warning to Lime Crime about its Velvetine lipstick, which included two banned ingredients: ferric ferrocyanide and ultramarines.

By 2016, Deere had (wisely) stepped back as the public face of the brand.

Despite a mountain of controversy, this was not the end for Lime Crime. In 2017, beauty industry veteran Kim Wall was tasked with cleaning up her act. His tenure at Lime Crime resulted in lucrative partnerships with Ulta and Riley Rose, and eventually closed with private equity firm Tengram Capital Partners who acquired the brand.

2020 marked a real turning point – Blieden, former managing director of The Body Shop, was named CEO and Deere stepped down from the Lime Crime board, her last remaining position with the company. Finally a fresh start!

Since then, Lime Crime has branched out into haircare, doubling down on the category with a product line that includes color, styling tools, and shampoo and conditioner. (According to Blieden, hair color now accounts for almost 70% of sales.)

And more recently, the brand announced that it was cutting prices and repositioning itself as a mass brand rather than a prestige one.

Its pivot to “masstige” is a bold move, especially in a rising cost environment. But by becoming more accessible, Lime Crime can open up to additional customers, once discouraged by the brand’s higher prices.

Lime Crime’s future isn’t guaranteed, but things are looking up for the once-controversial brand. After all, the brand has come this far without bending – now that Deere is out, Lime Crime’s comeback story might just have a happy ending.

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