This is a Great Beauty Product, Right?

This is the first post in a 3 part series to help you flush out your new product idea. By the time you finish this series you should have refined your product idea to the point where it is flawless… or you will have determined that you need to go back to the drawing board altogether. But, alas, progress is progress and that’s what I’m all about. Let’s get to it!

It All Starts with an Idea…

So you have this great idea for a beauty product. You’re so excited because you just know it’s never been done before. Are you sure about that? Before you jump head first into product development, branding and marketing for your miracle product you really should do a little digging. Some of you are going to have groundbreaking ideas, others won’t. But don’t let that deter you from moving forward. If you find that a similar product already exists that means there’s a market for it. That’s good news! I mean, you want people to buy it, right? Right. We’ll talk about what to do if the product already exists in the next post. For those that hit the jackpot on a product that doesn’t already exist, let’s get to work! Here’s what you need to do to get the ball rolling.

• First things first…shhhhhhhhhh! Keep your idea to yourself. Don’t tell your best friend, don’t elude to it on Instagram and Facebook and don’t blab about it at your high school reunion to make yourself look successful (but you wouldn’t do that anyway, right?) Give yourself the chance to do all of your research, protect your idea and get the ball rolling before you start telling everyone what you’re working on. Let’s face it, everyone isn’t honest. Many people lack integrity and will steal your idea faster than you can hit Google. So start with zipped lips.

• Find out if there are opportunities to get legal protection for your idea. It’s not everyday that a cosmetic product qualifies for patent protection. But oh when it does! Start seeing green, Glam Girl! Quickly, a cosmetic stands a chance for patent protection if it introduces or requires some new technology (this is usually something to do with the manufacturing process), uses a brand new, novel ingredient (have you been hiking in the rainforest and found a miracle plant?), uses an existing ingredient/process in a completely new, not already patented way, etc. Maybe patent protection is not in your cards, but there’s also trade secret protection which is a bit easier to get. You may not see off hand how you can obtain intellectual property for your idea, but usually when you know it’s possible you start thinking of ideas to make it so.

• Decide what the selling points will be. What is going to make your target customer spend their money with you? I’m willing to bet the idea you have solves some sort of problem. It’s a problem you’ve had personally or one you’ve heard enough people complain about that you had a light bulb moment. Roll with that. Whatever sparked the idea in you will spark your customer to buy…if you sell it to them the way you sold it to yourself.

• Pick a market and set a price point. How much is your idea worth to you? Is this something that the have’s are going to want to have? Can you envision it in a beauty spread in your favorite magazine? When you see your product in your mind what does it look like?

• Do some research to find out how much of this idea you can figure out yourself before you need to call in a professional. The more you know about what it takes to get your idea off the ground, the better position you’ll be in to maintain creative control over it’s development. Some of the best projects I’ve worked on came from clients who did their research before they called me.

• Just do it. This is probably the most important part of this post. Don’t get stuck in your head so much that you talk yourself out of a great idea. Because one day you’ll look up and someone will be making millions off an idea that you had but never put your feet to the ground on. Don’t be that girl. It’s no fun. Ask me how I know.

Here’s to the Glam Life!

My Take on Beauty Brand Competition

Competition is overrated. No, really. Way too much emphasis is placed on beating the competition in a beauty product based business. I can see how it happens. In a crowded marketplace where there aren’t many truly unique ideas, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to “one up” your competitors. Frankly, everybody is fighting for their piece of the pie. I just don’t happen to believe that is the best way for your beauty brand to succeed.

The saying goes— Comparison is the thief of joy. Well, so is competition if you don’t use it in the right way. Let’s try something a little different. What if instead of competing with our fellow beauty business owners we studied them? I mean really study them from a genuine place of understanding, inspiration and motivation. Learn what it is that they do well and figure out what they can do better. Take what you learn and improve, add, edit and remix it to fit your own glam biz. And then… forget they even exist. After all you can’t be your competition and they can’t be you.

Who do you consider to be competition for your glam biz? What have you learned from their brand?

Here’s to the Glam Life!

Your Beauty Brand Personality

At some point in our lives, I think we’ve all been drawn in to a fictional tv show; whether your taste is Scandal, Sex and the City or Glee. Have you ever considered the thought, research and effort that go into the development of your favorite characters? I mean, when you really think about it, those characters are not REAL. They don’t live in the real world, yet they have a personality, a culture, values (or not), careers, friends, taste in food and clothes. Everything that makes you and I human is built into each fictional character so that they feel real to us. We are able to develop a connection to fictional characters because the writer took care in developing a complete character.
*Stay with me, I’m going somewhere with this.*
But they don’t stop there. Once the characters are developed and the scripts are written, the actors get to know the characters. My fiancé happens to be an actor and I was once lucky enough to sit in on a character analysis. It was one of the most intriguing things I’ve ever witnessed. I watched as the writer/director posed questions and scenarios to the actors who responded as if they themselves were really the character. Actors really become their characters on set.
So how does this apply to your beauty brand? Well, your brand needs a personality, it needs values, it needs a culture. Your customers should be able to get to know your brand like they get to know their favorite tv characters. Is your brand classic? Or does she respond to trends? What kind of customer would your brand make friends with? Where does she shop? What does she eat? Does your brand feel connected to the community or is she more drawn to a specific audience? Get to know your brand BEFORE you introduce her to the world. Give the world something to connect and hold on to. That’s the first step to creating a loyal brand following.

What methods have you used in developing a personality for your beauty brand?

Here’s to the Glam Life!

Setting Goals for Your Beauty Brand

Before you dig into this post, take a minute to ponder these three words- Best, Popular, Profitable. What comes to mind when you read each of them? *jot that down*

What is your main goal for your beauty brand? Do you want to be the best to ever do it? Are you seeking popularity? Or would you much rather be profitable? You can have it all, but you should start with what matters most and retrofit the rest.

I believe if I do my best work, it will earn me profitability because of the quality and value I would pour out to the clients I serve. Doing so creates loyalty and word of mouth marketing. When you’re creating something of value for your tribe, you’ll gain popularity. Let’s face it, all of us want to be known for something whether we’re willing to admit it or not. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be popular, especially for something you give your all to.

Consider these elements when you’re sitting at the drawing board planning your beauty brand. Give your best to each point in the process. Select superb formulations, research and implement the most effective marketing strategies for your product type, create a unique and compelling brand culture and match all of your visuals and copy to that culture. Your packaging, logo, website, presentation of product claims and promo materials should all be a reflection of your brand’s best work. If you do, the profitability and popularity will fall in place. It’s quite a glamorous cycle!

Here’s to the Glam Life!

Reading for Your Beauty Brand

There’s just no way around it. If you want to succeed, advance, learn, be a leader; you must read. I’m willing to bet if you interviewed the top beauty brand owners and leaders you’d find they have a list of reading material that played a role in their success. Someone like you that is on a quest for success and advancement in the cosmetic industry has to be intentional about your reading. Not just any book will do. I like to have an arsenal of reading material so that I know or am learning a little bit about everything that applies to my direction in life. I always set business and personal goals for the year. I use those goals to guide my reading. Not only should you select books that matter to you right now, but you have to read with an open, active, critical and investigative mind. It’s not so much about what’s written on the page as it is what those words spark inside of you. Pay careful attention to the sparks.

So what should you be reading?

The key to a successful business is to have a healthy personal life, a productive business life and to be knowledgeable in subjects that affect your beauty business.

I recommend reading self help books and/or blogs that build and maintain your self esteem. This kind of reading will teach you what to say when you talk to yourself and how to protect yourself from negativity. You can also look for blogs written by life coaches and lifestyle brands to help you maintain an inspired, motivated and positive outlook.

I also believe every business owner or aspiring business owner will benefit from reading marketing and branding material. Find books whose title and description speaks to you and where you are right now. Look for bloggers whose voice/style is reflective of yourself or someone you can see yourself being friends with. This will be easy reading for you and these nuggets can be dropped in your inbox daily. I personally like dry humor, a touch of sarcasm, or high energy. Marketing bloggers are really good at that.

Finally, you’ll need to read material that applies directly to your industry. You’re reading this blog so I’m willing to bet cosmetics is your industry of choice. Luckily, our industry has a lot of trade publications to keep you in the know. I’ll list my favorites below. Being apart of this industry means you get to read fun, girly stuff, too. Your favorite fashion/lifestyle magazines will all touch on beauty in every issue. What you do with the information will determine if it is golden or not. Here’s a TGS secret… It’s ALWAYS golden. *wink*

My favorite trade publications:

GCI Magazine
Cosmetics and Toiletries

What are you reading right now? Drop your favorite blogs and book titles in the comments for all of us to enjoy.

Here’s to the Glam Life!

Science and Controversy

Science and Controversy

With all the controversy and bad press looming in the cosmetic industry, I thought it was important to speak as both a consumer and a cosmetic chemist. I have had the privilege of following several forum style discussions regarding the safety of cosmetics and personal care products. In these discussions, both scientists and non-scientists provide their “two cents”. Normally, a sensationalist begins the discussion with wild claims like “Women put 515 chemicals on their bodies everyday!” or “There’s lead in your lipstick and you’re eating 7 lbs of it a year!”. Think I’m being facetious? I couldn’t be more serious. Of course, this is when all the scientists join in with our facts and research, etc because we hate to see the industry being bashed and shown in a negative light.

The Scientist’s Brain

Scientists realize that consumers are often skeptical and that they are being fed a lot of misinformation. What the general public doesn’t realize is that scientists are by far the most skeptical beings… ever. Our minds are wired to question everything and believe nothing until we have seen the research or performed the research ourselves… it’s the scientific method. Once we have the facts, we will fight and argue tirelessly to inform those who don’t believe. In the case of the cosmetic industry, some of these arguments and fights occur publicly. It may appear that the scientists are picking on “the little guy”, as we often must take our stand against individuals like sales reps from MLM companies or “all natural” companies. The problem is, these individuals rarely know the science behind the ingredients that we use– both natural and synthetic.

My Note to the Consumer

Be careful what you believe. It’s perfectly ok to be skeptical, but be fair with your skepticism. I urge you to not only question claims made by the cosmetic industry, but the claims made by radicals and special interest groups as well. Keep in mind, the research and development department of any major cosmetic company is run by various scientists ie chemists, biologists, chemical engineers, etc. With the “natural” cosmetic companies, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, this post is not to bash indie beauty companies in any way. On the contrary, it is meant to bring about awareness and to say “Shame on you.” to those companies whose marketing strategy is to shed a negative light on larger, more established companies.

As with any industry, there are some snakes in the grass. There are plenty of cosmetics on the market that make claims they can’t live up to. Those products belong to both big brand manufacturers and small cosmetic companies alike. Learn to read your ingredients lists and familiarize yourself with which ingredients are natural and which are synthetic. If you want to know if a product is likely to work, feel free to ask me. Keep in mind, product claims are largely made by marketing departments, not R&D.

Final Points

1. Research shows there is no harm in parabens.
2. Water based products NEED preservatives. If you see water and no preservative, be afraid… be very afraid!
3. Preservatives are your friend… they keep your products safe from nasty little bacterial creatures.
4. Lead is not purposely included in your lipstick as a secret ingredient. Lead is a naturally occurring metal and can inadvertently be introduced to not only your cosmetics, but your food and drink as well. Albeit in TRACE amounts, as it is only found in nature in trace amounts.
5. Cosmetic Scientists use the SAME cosmetics that we market to the general public. We put them on our skin and our children’s skin. Sorry to break it to you, but there is no secret society for cosmetic scientists that makes all the “good” products that we keep to ourselves.
6. The nature of any scientist is to research, test, research, test, research some more, test and then share our findings. This is no different for the cosmetic industry.

Knowledge is Hotness, here’s to the Glam Life!