Fifty2, The MPB Project: Sephora

MPB sephora front“Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project,” will present a carefully curated look at the best Private Brands in the U.S. across all retail channels. The weekly series looks at each great Private Brand with insight, analysis and original photography. In early 2014, these will be published as my first book along with several new chapters that focus on strategy, packaging and design learnings from the included brands.

Fifty2 The MPB Project LogoI am looking for retailer-owned private labels that are BRANDS – brands that bring their positioning and business purpose to life through great design, purpose, expertise, confidence, emotion, lifestyle and innovation.

To submit a brand for consideration please email

When Dominique Mandonnaud opened his first perfumery in 1969, perfume and cosmetics were hidden behind counters, jealously guarded by snooty sales people. With the opening of his first store in France, Mandonnaud revolutionized the way beauty was sold and created a new concept of retailing. Beauty products came out from behind the counters and became the star of the show. Perhaps most importantly, customers were encouraged to try, touch, smell, and discover.

Today, beauty advisors offer advice and ideas that create a unique environment for experimentation and learning. Sephora’s unique, open-sell environment features an ever-increasing amount of classic and emerging brands across a broad range of product categories including makeup, skincare, fragrance, hair care, bath and body products, as well as hair and make-up tools.

More recently, the retailer evolved from simply curating national and specialty brands to becoming a brand in their own right – one that’s taken form in a powerful and compelling Private Brand. Sephora’s Private Brand embodies all the brand’s contemporary, daring, creativity and excellence. It includes game-changing products that are as accessible as they are exciting, as sensual as they are superior. Like the 365 shades of lipstick – one for every mood.

The self-named brand has become Sephora’s top-selling brand and now exceeds 1,400 items, which sell at the incredible pace of one every 2 minutes. The packaging design is clean, modern and authoritative. Clean premium brand language is brought to life through the use of a san serif font, as well as dominant black & white packaging complimented by color blocking and the occasional metallic highlight.

The Private Brand successfully extended to the Sephora stores inside J.C. Penney in October 2006, and is now included in 386 J.C. Penney stores nationwide.

Brand Focus: Beauty
San Francisco, CA
2012 USA Retail Sales:
$36.5 m
2011 Global Stores:


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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.