Another OG influencer with a sizable following is entering the beauty brand area.
On Monday, Marie von Behrens-Felipe introduced Sonsie, a skin-care line launching direct-to-consumer with three products: the Basic Balm lip balm ($22); a multi-purpose, creamy mask dubbed the Multi-Moisture Mask ($48); and Sonsie Super Serum ($64).
Now 27, Von Behrens-Felipe — or @mvb, as she is known to her 1.1 million Instagram followers — started creating content as a blogger at age 12. At the time, the influencer market was particularly small in Germany, where she called Hamburg home. Brand deals came quickly, with big names like Chanel, Nike and Levi’s. And, after high school she moved to New York City. To date, she has been selective about her partnerships, saying she doesn’t believe in “making things just to make them” and that the brands she works with have to feel in tune with her personal style. She’s had an ongoing clothing collaboration with the German retailer About You, which first launched in December 2021. And, in December 2022, she released a jewelry collection with Anine Bing.
When the pandemic hit, von Behrens-Felipe said that she found herself exhausted and it was “showing on her skin.” While contemplating what she “really wanted out of life.”
“I was doing a lot of research about skin care. I was cutting out most of the stuff that I had used,” she said. As an influencer, “I was trying too many serums, eye creams, toners and lotions; it was too much for my young skin.”
She began to connect with cosmetic chemists to begin the process of creating her dream products: “effective formulas that would simplify my routine and that I could use in different ways, depending on the season or occasion.” Plus, the time felt right to begin a new project, she said. Over the course of two years, in collaboration with a Brooklyn-based female cosmetic chemist, the Sonsie formulas were created from scratch. Sonsie, a centuries-old Scottish term, refers to a healthy inner and outer appearance.
To build the brand, along with using their savings, von Behrens-Felipe and her husband raised money exclusively from friends and family. They declined to share how much was spent to get the brand off the ground.
The serum was the first product created. “The serum is my hero product. I wanted a simple product that calmed my skin, but also moisturized it at the same time,” she said. The mask, a later addition, is meant to be a multi-tasker. It was conceptualized as a sleeping mask. But, she said, “I use it as a moisturizer, I use it for my hands, I use it on planes. It’s perfect, because no one can tell you have anything on your face.”
She added, “I grew up with my mom never wearing any makeup, and I don’t have the features to wear makeup. I barely have lashes.”
To promote the launch, von Behrens-Felipe is relying on her own platform, as well as her friends. Fellow influencers including Xenia Adonts and Claire Rose Cliteur have posted about the brand.
The brand has not yet done any paid marketing, but it’s invested in photoshoots featuring von Behrens-Felipe’s friends in their own homes, doing their daily routines. “Sonsie is about authenticity and [helping] our community to connect with themselves at a deeper level,” said Roberto A. Felipe, von Behrens-Felipe’s husband and co-founder.
Von Behrens-Felipe teased the brand prior to launch. Her Instagram bio now reads: “Founder: @sonsieskin.” The brand’s account, at press time, has around 1,500 followers.
As for launching direct-to-consumer, von Behrens-Felipe said, “We decided it was the best way to learn about our customers and connect with them. But I would love for people to be able to try them in person one day. We’re not opposed to [retail partnerships].”