The Global VC

Apothecary Creates a Skinfluencer-Driven Marketplace for a More Unique Skincare Journey

Many publications are dedicated to skincare, but the market lacks one dominant place to discover new and emerging skincare brands suitable to users’ unique needs and goals.

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Clayton Bryan

Clayton Bryan

Partner at 500 Global





While the skincare revolution is not new, it is quickly evolving as indie brands drive innovation and as the market continues to grow more quickly than the developed world’s GDP. Compounding that trend are Gen Z entering adulthood and having access to larger discretionary spending and a need for a better beauty marketplace driven from the ground up–which is why we’re so excited to work with Apothecary. The team has built a personalized skincare discovery marketplace powered by community and data to find the best product matches between consumers and brands.

The Nuts & Bolts 

Problem: Many publications are dedicated to skincare, but the market lacks one dominant place to discover new and emerging skincare brands suitable to users’ unique needs and goals. The market currently has big players, such as Sephora and Ulta, but they have not iterated in the past 20 years, and even with the rise of the creator economy, “skinfluencers” (on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok) lack commerce tools. 

Solution: Apothecary is a skinfluencer-driven marketplace. This content-rich marketplace streamlines skincare discovery for the 54% of Gen Z consumers making beauty purchasing decisions via social media while helping emerging indie brands pick up momentum and translate more quickly to revenue. Skinfluencers share authentic content and bridge the gap between consumer and brand.

When 500 Met Apothecary 

We met the Apothecary team through another 500 Startups’ portfolio company, Resonado

Christine Hong, the Founder and CEO, personally struggled with eczema and acne, which served as part of the inspiration to launch Apothecary. A graduate of Harvard University with a degree in neurobiology, Christine has co-authored two papers while interning at Mass General Hospital and has worked at several startups including Mighty AI (acquired by Uber). Tech Lead Jason Lee, who has software development experience at three e-commerce startups, joins Christine, as does dermatologist Dr. Kyung Hee Chang.

The Apothecary team is working towards a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, focusing their operations on Goal 3 (ensuring healthy lives and wellbeing), Goal 8 (creation of quality jobs), and Goal 10 (reducing inequalities). 

Why Now?

The skincare market is demanding more brand diversity and is constantly looking for what is new. Harvard Business School professor and author of Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry, Geoffry Jones, notes the difficulties in getting new products to market: “Getting the word out to consumers, and getting product through the distribution channels to consumers, provide further major challenges for new ventures. Creative talent, astute marketing skills, and the ability to understand and respond rapidly to consumer fashions and preferences are all needed to succeed.”

Big beauty brands are also incubating their own disruptors and increasing technology acquisitions. The result is a proliferation of brands needing new avenues to reach their target audience. 

Last year, Gen Z made up 32% of the global population. While 64% of Gen Z say Ulta (33%) or Sephora (31%) are their top beauty destinations, these brands have gone stale for this user group. Apothecary can be the marketplace that helps brands go from Instagram sensations to profitable skincare brands by appealing to these younger audiences. 

Future of Apothecary 

Apothecary plans to continue to work with skinfluencers to generate conversation around skincare education and make suggestions on product fit. These skinfluencers are now empowered with their own storefronts that enable them to monetize their influence and become their own entrepreneur.

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You can learn more about Apothecary at:


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Clayton Bryan

Clayton Bryan

Partner at 500 Global

Clayton Bryan is an early stage venture investor and operator. Currently a Partner at 500 Global, Clayton has spent time at some of the most innovative companies in Silicon Valley. He has built expansive online communities, scaled marketplace businesses, and facilitated million dollar deals. At Yahoo he worked on award winning products. Later, at Payvment, he helped a team pioneer a new set of tools that started the social commerce movement. With Diversity as a guiding principle, Clayton has spent the entirety of his career within venture capital focused on supporting underrepresented founders. In 2016, Clayton and four others launched a non-profit organization, Transparent Collective, tasked with coaching and connecting underrepresented founders with investors. Companies to have gone through Transparent Collective's program have raised tens of millions of dollars in early stage financings. Clayton has invested in over 30 companies, including Printify, Public Goods, Silk+Sonder, Blue Wire, Fintor, Neon Financial, Hamama, EcoCart, JusticeText, Pariti, and Kiira. He Received a Bachelors of Arts in Political Economy from The University of California, Berkeley and his Masters of Business Administration from The Stern School of Business at New York University.