Former Biotech Exec Rolls Out Multibrand Beauty Business

Barbara Paldus is planning to use her outsider status to her advantage in the beauty industry.
Paldus, who built two Silicon Valley start-ups, including Finesse Solutions, a biotech business that Thermo Fisher Scientific bought in 2017, is channeling her entrepreneurial energy into the beauty category. Using money from the sale of Finesse, Paldus has created a fund called Sekhmut Ventures, which will invest in beauty and wellness businesses, including her first operation — Codex.
Codex will be a multibrand beauty company, and will unveil its initial line in June. Called Bia, it will launch five stockkeeping units for summer, and five more in the fall. Prices range from $42 to $85.
The line is meant to provide a basic skin-care routine at affordable prices, Paldus said. The products are clinically tested — something she insisted on after her time in biotech — and contain a plant-based preservative blend that Paldus worked to develop.
Bia, an Irish business Paldus acquired and integrated into Codex, will be sold online.
The business plans to have global scale — it already has Irish, U.K. and U.S. operations, and is planning to open Singapore and China businesses in the next six months, Paldus said. Codex also intends to roll out several more beauty lines over the next three years, including products that tackle pollution, aging and that are for mommy and baby, Paldus said.
For its next brands, Codex will look for lines from the "extremes of the world," Paldus said, and identify differentiated regional ingredients to serve as stars of each line.
She got the idea to get into beauty when her child started to have allergic reactions to most topical skin care, she said. In her prior roles, she traveled globally and started to bring home and try products from South Korea and Iceland. Preservatives would cause allergic reactions, she said, and natural products would often go bad.
So, she started asking cosmetic chemists to create a plant-based option. The company has filed two patent applications already, and is planning to file more before Bia launches, Paldus said.
She also intends to make it available to other companies.
"We're not going to go and talk about changing an industry and say we're keeping all this IP to ourselves," Paldus said. The ingredient is owned by Codex Beauty LLC, and is more expensive than traditional preservatives, she noted.
Sekhmut, the firm behind Codex, has also made several other beauty investments, including fragrance business Heretic, matcha business Stamba and supplements line Needed. More deals are expected to be announced later this year.
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