Seattle shampoo startup Gemma Labs raises $2.75M to grow custom haircare kit service

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Gemma Labs CEO Allison Harr. (Gemma Labs Photo)

Gemma Labs is raising cash to support increasing demand for its Gemmist custom shampoo service.

The Seattle startup reeled in a $2.75 million round from PSL Ventures and other investors.

Gemma Labs spun out of Pioneer Square Labs’ startup studio more than two years ago and raised $3.5 million in April. The company reached $1.5 million in annualized sales last year.

Gemma Labs uses in-house scientists to concoct special shampoos for individual customers, based on surveys they take that assess individual hair and scalp needs, in addition to seasonal factors.

The company asks customers about their zip code; chemical treatments; thermal styling tool use; and more. Prices per shampoo or conditioner bottle start at $18 for 8 ounces; Gemma Labs also sells a $25 scalp balancing bar.

Gemma Labs will use the fresh cash to roll out new products.

(Gemma Labs Photo)

The startup is led by Allison Harr, previously a marketing director at companies including Vestar Capital’s Sun Products; Unilever; and American Express.

“Gemmist provides a solution for consumers frustrated by the trial-and-error process of finding the right products for their individual hair needs,” Harr said in a statement. “We are focused on creating approachable, science-based products and recommendations for those who want ‘good hair days’ every single day.”

PSL Ventures managing director Mike Galgon said Gemma Labs is benefitting from more people shopping online amid the pandemic.

“In this category, buying online is such a natural step because the consumer can actually get to better product selection with brands like Gemmist by having personal data-driven recommendations,” Galgon said in a statement. “It’s actually a superior solution to buying at a retail location for now and in the future.”

There are other startups with similar business models. Function of Beauty raised $150 million last month; its prices start at $39 for eight ounces. Prose, another New York City-based startup, has also raised venture capital dollars and sells 8-ounce bottles starting at $25.

Seattle is not exactly a hotbed for consumer-focused startups, let alone those selling beauty products. However, it was home to Julep, the once high-flying online cosmetics startup that went from acquisition to bankruptcy in two years.

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