Jami Morse Heidegger Prepares to Reenter the Beauty Fray

Jami Morse Heidegger, who built Kiehl's Since 1851 into one of the brightest marquee names of the Nineties' indie boom, is stepping back into the ring.

Jami Morse Heidegger

Jami Morse Heidegger

Photo By John Aquino

Jami Morse Heidegger, who built Kiehl's Since 1851 into one of the brightest marquee names of the Nineties' indie boom, is stepping back into the ring.

Seven years after she sold Kiehl's to L'Oréal, Heidegger is developing a collection of five facial skin care products aimed at women with mature skin and designed with high-octane ingredients and matching lofty price points — perhaps in the neighborhood of $500 a jar.

For an overall corporate identity, she has settled on Morse Laboratories, the original name of the business of her late father, Aaron Morse. "My team felt it was needed to incorporate the Morse heritage," she said in a recent interview in New York. The fledgling squad will operate out of offices on a 25-acre spread in Malibu, Calif., near her home in Chatsworth, where she lives with her husband, Klaus, and their three children.

The launch date has been targeted for this spring, probably April, and Heidegger said her inclination is to launch the line with an exclusive at Apothia at Fred Segal Melrose in Los Angeles. That decision was made as a gesture of thanks, Heidegger said, as an acknowledgement that Apothia founder Ron Robinson was an early supporter of Kiehl's.

While her distribution planning has not taken shape, Heidegger said a logical step beyond Fred Segal would be specialty stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus or Barneys New York.

The impetus for the new line grew out of her semiretirement lifestyle combined with her lingering ties to old days in downtown New York. After selling Kiehl's in April 2000, Heidegger at first felt the loss of the daily rush, but as her five-year non-compete took hold, she learned to appreciate "the joys of manicures and personal trainers," she admitted, while acknowledging that she still had the urge to dabble in product formulation. She found herself scanning trade journals for ingredient news. Moreover, Heidegger kept in touch with her colleague from Kiehl's, the former chief chemist Stephen Musumeci.

He formulated products for her own personal use on her 47-year-old skin. "I wanted the best ingredients," she said, "the highest concentration possible for my skin. And I didn't care what it cost."
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