Entrepreneur

Meet the Mastermind Behind Kendall Jenner's, Shay Mitchell's and Millie Bobby Brown's Brands

Shaun Neff builds hot brands for hot people. How? It's all about the vibe.
Source: Shaun Neff
Shaun Neff

Early in his career, Shaun Neff carried around gold business cards that read Shaun Neff, Boss Man. People weren’t always sure how to interpret this. Was it braggadocio? A joke? They would half smirk and reply, “Oh, a gold card,” Neff says, imitating the reaction many people had. But the gold card wasn’t an ego thing, and critics didn’t necessarily see what was driving the young entrepreneur. “My favorite inspiration ever is Willy Wonka,” Neff explains. The card symbolized fun — it was the golden ticket.

Nearly two decades later, Neff is definitely having fun. He’s an avid surfer, his vibe is casual, and he often sprinkles his language with words like dude, gnarly, and rad. But underneath the relaxed appearance is a shrewd marketing guru, a guy with entrepreneurial hustle and a highly analytical mind working overtime to make sense of complicated trends. His process has ended up making a lot of money for a lot of people, earning him the nickname “the Brand Whisperer.”

One of his latest ventures is Beach House Group in El Segundo, Calif., a company that incubates celebrity-driven brands such as Moon, a line of oral care products created with Kendall Jenner; Florence by Mills, a beauty collection with Millie Bobby Brown; Tracee Ellis Ross’s hair care company; and Shay Mitchell’s Béis travel gear. The company’s full portfolio, before the pandemic hit, was estimated to generate more than $120 million in sales this year, driven almost entirely by products created since Neff joined the company in 2016.

Related: How to Become a Leadership Influencer

But that success isn’t a case of lightning striking for the first time. It’s more like the third or fourth time.

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