Bushbalm lands big U.S. deal in bid to diversify away from e-commerce

David Gaylord, co-founder and CEO of Bushbalm Skincare, is a 40 Under 40 recipient and former merchant in residence at Shopify. File photo
David Gaylord, co-founder and CEO of Bushbalm Skincare, is a 40 Under 40 recipient and former merchant in residence at Shopify. File photo

Bushbalm Skincare, an Ottawa startup that has seen runaway revenue growth over the past few years, has entered into an agreement with Ulta Beauty that will put the skincare company’s products in 990 stores across the U.S.

It’s part of a move by Bushbalm to diversify its channel strategy from e-commerce to more in-store opportunities, co-founder and CEO David Gaylord told OBJ.

“We’re finding new avenues of growth,” said Gaylord, who is currently in Arizona visiting Ulta stores. “Some people might not realize e-commerce is challenging because the cost of marketing is crazy. The route for faster growth is through retailers.”

OBJ360 (Sponsored)

Gaylord said he is thrilled to have landed the “phenomenal” deal with one of the biggest beauty retailers in the U.S. and to be breaking into a “huge channel of growth” for the company. 

It was a long process to ink the deal, Gaylord said, adding that Bushbalm was meeting with Ulta buyers and teams over a six- to seven-month period. 

“We finally convinced them that Bushbalm was an emerging brand and the category of hair removal is an up-and-coming and exciting category. It hasn’t really been before.”

About 70 per cent of the company’s business comes from the U.S., mostly online or through waxing salons, said Gaylord. While the “skincare, everywhere” company, which specializes in oil and products for the bikini line, recently started selling through Amazon, it has been waiting to land a mass retailer to get Bushbalm products on shelves, Gaylord added. 

Gaylord is no stranger to pitching his company. He and co-founder Tim Burns walked away from CBC’s Dragons’ Den with $400,000 for 10-per-cent investment in the company in 2020. Bushbalm has also made the top 10 in OBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies, scoring first place last year with three-year revenue growth exceeding 5,000 per cent from 2019 to 2021.

To continue on Bushbalm’s pattern of rapid success, Gaylord said Ulta Beauty will be key. With a bigger population, Gaylord said selling into the market in the U.S. is more efficient and it is less expensive to ship products there than within Canada. 

“Our product really resonates in the American market,” he said. 

Gaylord said he is also excited to grow his team. The company currently employs 17 people, with two based in Toronto and the others in Ottawa.

CEO and co-founder David Gaylord says he hopes to expand the Bushbalm hair removal and skincare products available at Ulta Beauty in the future. Photo provided by Bushbalm.

“We’re based in Ottawa and almost our entire team is here, so being able to expand is great because we’re actually hiring for another role and we get to grow our team,” he explained. “We doubled our team last year, which was a huge undertaking, and being able to continue to grow is something we’re excited about. We can create jobs and it’s something we’re really passionate about.”

The future includes extensive plans for marketing campaigns specific to Ulta, with shelf displays, advertising and store visits. 

“Our goal of growth is we’d love to expand our product selection at Ulta, one new product a year for the next few years, more stores, more placements in the store, a beautiful shelf display …,” Gaylord said. “And there are increased marketing opportunities at Ulta if you’re successful with them.”

Get our email newsletters

Get up-to-date news about the companies, people and issues that impact businesses in Ottawa and beyond.

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.