Posted by Emeline
What does it actually take to start your own beauty brand? With the growth of beauty social media entrepreneurs, it would be easy to imagine one merely attends an evening course, bank loan in tow and fiercely pushes forth on their social media strategy to become a success. Social media aside, it’s got to take more than that, right?
It was held at Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green and we were joined by Emily Maben – marketing Director for Sleek MakeUP, Liha Okunniwa & Abi Oyepitan – founders of Liha Beauty, Melissa Sinclair – founder of Big Hair Beauty, and Stephanie G-M – founder of Ouli’s Ointment’s.
It felt fitting to compile the breadth of information shared into tips on starting your on beauty brands and on what to look out for.
These go hand in hand. Make sure to back up your passion with market research. Sharmadean – founder of WAH Nails – built up a community and whilst she knew that nail polishes were going to be huge. WGSM (the trend forecaster) backed up the trends and she built a business case to strengthen her product. Research can never be underestimated and passion will keep you going and bring gravitas to your brand.
It’s so important to research the name of your brand and product names – IPO.gov.uk – is a great place to start, and after doing so, to Trademark your name, nationally and internationally. Sharmadean explained that if you plan on taking your product to different territories, you need to know if your product’s name(s) and your brand name is free of use. It could land you in a legal battle and quite frankly “aint nobody got time for that!”
TAKE A COURSE
Try and learn as much as you can about all aspects of the business. Melissa Sinclair – founder of Big Hair Beauty – mentioned that she realised that her product stopped being profitable for the manufacturers to produce when she supplied her own ingredients. (N.B Manufacturers tend to make a profit on the raw ingredients they supply to make the products. It becomes an issue when you bring in your own raw ingredient).
Instead of letting her know their issue with this, they ceased communication and she was left with 25 kilos of raw material for EACH of her products. So Melissa took a course and learnt how to make the products in-house.
When the costs can range anything from £3,000 to £15,500 (in Melissa’s case) it’s important to think strategically. You might decide to continue working for yourself alongside starting your brand, as Liha founders Liha Okunniwa & Abi Oyepitan are doing. Consider crowdfunding too: Kickstarter and Indigogo work well as method for raising finance for products. You may decide to relocate, downgrade your life and work from less expensive parts of the city as Sharmadean did. Starting your own brand can be a huge sacrifice so it’s worth careful planning.
BUILD YOUR NETWORK
Mentors, advisors, consultants. They can make all the difference. Melissa hired a consultant who put her in touch with a chemist. You essentially pay for their contacts but when starting out it can save you a lot of time. Your network is really your most powerful weapon so don’t be afraid to contact people on LinkedIn. Key words such as “cosmetic consultant” can lead you onto a host of other recommendations.
Shockingly, manufacturers often own the brand’s formulas but you can own the Intellectual Property by developing it independently by a coveted chemists (if they have their own lab). Once your product has been sampled, this sample will need to be tested by a chemist and an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) will be needed for each product. If the ingredients have been supplied by yourself, you will need to hold certificates for each of these. Testing can take 3-6 months after sample development and will need to be calculated into your planning. There are can be lots of little complications that can have huge impacts so it’s wise to seek professional advise.
LEGAL LEGAL LEGAL
Make sure a professional looks at the contracts because they might have loopholes, such as only knowing your formulations after producing 100,000 units or being bound to the manufacture for a number of years.
Don’t assume you own the formulation or IP, the manufacture owns these unless it is clarified in your contract that you do.
Those formulations are really important and they are known by name; own them where you can! Interestingly you don’t trademark hair care formulations as ‘spinner chemists’ can replicate the formulation purely from the hair product labels!
PACKAGING & MANUFACTURING
Stephanie G-M – founder of Ouli’s Ointment – recommended speaking to PR companies to find manufacturers, speaking to people you know and attending beauty product Expos. At the Expos, if you get into conversation with manufacturers make sure to negotiate – if you need that one ingredient for your formulation, stand your ground. Manufacturing locally, in your home country can be a lot quicker with short lead times but might be more expensive.
Emily Maben – marketing director for Sleek MakeUP – explained that it is all about getting in front of the right person. Buyers
are always busy so find an inventive way of getting in front of them. Liha and Abi – founders of Liha Beauty – got speaking to the sales assistant at Liberty during their open call for new brands and it was passed on to the beauty buyer.
You can exhibit at expos and tradeshows but once you’re in front of a buyer make it all about YOU. Sell the story of your brand (make sure it is unique), be ready with a pitch line, business card and products to give away. Most importantly make sure everything is spotless; catalogues, marketing, website. If they aren’t interested in stocking you at that moment, do not be disheartened. Don’t be afraid to ask “When will you be able to?”, “What do I need to do?” or “Where do I need to be for you to stock me?”
But in the words of Sharmadean “Don’t beg” if they want you they will come for you.
STICK TO YOUR PRINCIPLES AND BE FIERCE
Afterword by Hayley Mills “We should be comfortable with trusting our own voices and should not be afraid of going for it. Men have no qualms figuring things out after they’ve taken the leap. Women are often overly self-aware which can hinder and create a multiple of doubts before they even start.
We can be too sensitive to the perception of others, it’s important to realize that leveraging on our community and our network isn’t something to be ashamed of, this has been done for centuries in old men’s clubs.
We should lose our self-awareness to minimize doubt and enable to us to achieve our full potential.
The nicest thing about the WAH Power Lunch event was that is wasn’t about men vs women, it was about women empowerment. It was really functional and about practical delivery. It was information that was needed to help us get going, about sharing and knowledge without romanticizing the journey. It was a community of inspiring individuals.
In 2008, WAH Nails founder Sharmadean Reid had an inkling that the nail art she and her friends had been wearing for years was about to hit the mainstream and how right was she.
Ashley Williams is a friend of mine and we’ve done her show nails from the beginning. I love her references and we share a love of 1990s lady-like faux Sloane vibe.
I’ve really been obsessed with 1990s Asia lately so I was happy when I saw this collection.
I’m totally digging the long sleeved T-shirts under dresses and Chinese dress shapes.
She got permission to use the official Coca Cola logo in Chinese on some prints which is so awesome.
The styling on this show was great and her signature pink and red look with skate influenced outfits was right up my street.
I think with the right guidance, Ashley could be a huge star! She totally sums up London cool right now, her work is really exciting and on the money!
I’m a massive fan of the 1970s. I think it was the first period where black people where accepted in pop culture and fashion. Black women were presented to be just as cool and fashionable as white women and the clothes are just so sexy and flattering to the female form. What an exciting time for race rights and female rights! The Louis Vuitton collection was one of my faves. 1970s was a pretty big trend but as I don’t really subscribe to Hedi Slimane/Saint Laurent super-emaciated, up all night, groupie-looking girls, the LV show was the 70s through a future lens. I love velvet and those blue velvet flares were exceptional. Knee-high boots, A-line skirts and a sexy autumnal colour palette. I’m totally into this collection. He went through all kinds of looks from the era – baby doll dresses, mini skirts, flares… I loved the selection of styles and colour. I’m really excited about Louis Vuitton again!
I think that because I’m the same age as him and probably grew up watching the same TV shows, listening to the same music, I get what he’s about. In fact every single season I get what’s he’s about. I absolutely love the sneaker references in the collection and I’m a massive fan of his ability to do a sexy but totally cool ‘dress for going raving to’. The orange and neon yellow dresses jumped out at me straight away! They’re totally perfect!! I love the knitted elements and turning a folksy craft into a techy one. I know he’s a Nike fan and their big Olympic innovation of Flyknit is definitely coming across here. I really feel that Wang has a vibe, and the progression and growth of his label has come quite naturally and organically. I know I’m going to get some block neutrals with splashes of colour. I know I’m going to get sexy city girl garms that will take me anywhere, and I know I’m gonna get super tech fabrics that stand the test of time. We have this phrase at WAH – downtown girls worldwide, and this collection is it.
I have been looking for an excuse to love Marni for years. I think it’s a totally under valued brand among young people and I love love love its unique style. I feel like older arty
I have been looking for an excuse to love Marni for years. I think it’s a totally under valued brand among young people and I love love love its unique style. I feel like older arty women wear it and not since those Marni ponyskin clogs of 1999 have I wanted a collection so much as their SS15 show. Going back to my Asia vibes, I’ve been taking an old kimono belt and belting everything in my wardrobe and this collection completely sums up my mood right now.
The show begins uncharacteristically simply with restrained colours and shapes. But then comes the Marni we love and the giant prints on belted coats and suits that just blow my mind. I’ll definitely be investing in Marni next season and while I’m waiting for it to come into store I’m going to go to a karate supplier and buy a judo belt.
Check out Wah Nails
See Sharmadean’s favourite Lip Colour here
In 2008, WAH Nails founder Sharmadean Reid had an inkling that the nail art she and her friends had been wearing for years was about to hit the mainstream. Then, when a nail salon refused to do the ‘Dior Double French’ she decided to open her own salon where you could have “Whatever you wanted on your fingertips” .
WAH started ‘life’ as a fanzine Sharmadean created with her friends about girls in hip-hop who “loved their Nike sneakers as much as their Prada wedges”. It became a cult East London nailart destination.
Now, WAH Nails is in Top Shop’s flagship London store in Oxford Circus and Dublin’s Harvey Nichols.
You can buy this lip colour here
We say: We love your inner 60’s babe Sharmadean!
Check out Wah Nails
Read how Sharmadean started her business in 2009 here
Read Shardean’s interview on beauty & style on intothegloss