Estée Lauder Incubator Makes First China Investment in Influencer Beauty Brand Code Mint

The Estée Lauder Cos.‘ investment arm, New Incubation Ventures, announced recently that it has taken a minority stake in Code Mint, a Chinese clean beauty label.

The early investment and incubation arm New Incubation Ventures, or NIV, did not disclose any details of the investment, which is a first for the venture capital firm in the China market. According to market sources, the deal was closed around two years ago.

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Code Mint is owned by the Hangzhou-based Jianfa Meixue Technology Co. Ltd. The company’s founder and legal representative is Yangqing Zhou, a Chinese influencer-turned-entrepreneur.

Yangqing Zhou, Code Mint founder and Shana Randhava, senior vice president of New Incubation Ventures

According to Tianyancha, China’s leading company data search platform, Cosmax China, the South Korean cosmetics manufacturer’s China subsidiary, also holds a 6.48 percent stake in Zhou’s company.

As one of the world’s largest beauty OEM companies, Cosmax China recently joined forces with China’s Yatsen Holding to open Asia’s largest beauty manufacturing hub in Guangzhou.

Founded in 2021, Code Mint is billed as a clean beauty brand that’s toxin-free and sensitive skin-friendly. Products include face masks, foundations, lipsticks, eye shadow palettes and cleansers.

According to Tmall, Code Mint’s most popular items include the 158 renminbi, or $21.50, Americano Pre-Makeup Face Mask, the 239 renminbi, or $32.80, Ice Cube Foundation, and the 119 renminbi, or $16.30, Amino Acid Cleaner.

Beauty conglomerates such as L’Oréal Group and Shiseido have also been placing a bet in the burgeoning C-beauty market by investing in homegrown labels.

Last September, L’Oréal’s China Fund, Shanghai Meicifang Investment, took a minority stake in Chinese fragrance brand Documents. It was Meicifang’s first investment.

Meicifang’s minority stake marks the closing of Documents’ Series A round investment of more than $10 million renminbi, or $1.4 million. Cathay Capital’s Consumer Co-Creation Fund also led this round of investment.

Last August, Shiseido’s Beauty Innovations Fund announced that it will be pouring close to 100 million renminbi, or $14.5 million, into Jiangsu Trautec Medical Technology Co. Ltd., a company that produces materials primarily for use in the medical and cosmetics industries.

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