Nudestix co-founder Taylor Frankel shares insider tips on how to launch your own beauty brand.
Hands up how many people have secretly dreamt of launching their own beauty company? Maybe it was reading online stories about how a makeup enthusiast decided to create her own brand online one day and became a multi-millionaire literally overnight. With Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook offering the opportunity to instantly connect with thousands of potential clients, beauty entrepreneurs are jumping at the opportunity to create a signature makeup line. (It doesn’t hurt that companies like Shiseido, Puig, Estee Lauder Companies and Unilever are paying millions to acquire brands like Charlotte Tilbury, Tiffany Masterson’s Drunk Elephant, Victoria Tsai’s Victoria Tsai, Bobbi Brown.) It’s like a beauty Gold Rush these days.
Taylor Frankel, one of a new generation of beauty entrepreneurs, spotted such opportunity early in her working life. Growing up watching her mother co-create and build camouflage makeup brand Cover FX, she had a front row seat to the inner workings of creating a makeup brand from scratch. Her mom, Jenny, a chemical engineer, has spent more than 20 years developing beauty products – first for MAC Cosmetics and later for Cover FX. The latter came about when patients with skin colour irregularities couldn’t find natural-looking foundation and cover up that would hide the discolouration. She immediately saw an opportunity to service a customer who couldn’t find effective camouflage makeup.
“I was so fortunate to have my mom’s experience in the beauty industry to bring my vision to life,” says Taylor. “I was never a makeup artist. I gravitated to nude makeup that was quick and easy to apply.” Her sister, Ally, was the same. Both wanted sleek, modern, natural beauty products – particularly swipe-and-go sticks that allowed them to create a natural look in less than 10 minutes each morning. In the spring of 2014, Jenny, Taylor and Ally launched Nudestix with a selection of makeup crayons. The trio signed an exclusive deal with Sephora in Canada and set about building a new beauty brand.
Tip #1: Listen
“The most important lesson to learn when creating a makeup brand is to LISTEN,” she explains. “We launched Nudestix on social media so we could listen to beauty customers and discover their likes, dislikes, concerns, etc. I read comments, posts and feedback from our community every day listening to what our community wants.” This market research allows her to identify how big a market there could be for a specific product. If enough people say the same thing, she knows she will have a successful launch.
Tip #2: What is missing?
This is the most important piece of advice for anyone looking to launch a beauty brand. Look for what is missing in the market. What product or shade isn’t currently available? What product solves a common problem? “Every product we develop for Nudestix is based on a formula that is missing in our customer’s makeup bag,” says Taylor. She spots these opportunities by listening to her social media community. She finds her best ideas from engaging online. And it allows her to pivot quickly if an opportunity arises.
Tip #3: Stay true to who you are
Having a clear identity and niche is essential in the highly competitive makeup market. “I remember going into meetings with our retail partners and having them tell us that we needed to go into full-coverage makeup. They said that is what was selling in their stores and we needed to be in that category.” But she knew that Nudestix was about natural, minimal makeup. The Nudestix customer didn’t want full-coverage foundation. She learned that she needed to stick to her beliefs no matter what anyone said.
Tip #4: Tell a story
When launching a beauty product today, you need to tell a story. Makeup is about story telling. Customers want to know the inspiration and process that led to the creation of the formula. They want to know why it is special. They want to know how it is different from the competition. So every Nudestix product is launched with a story.
Tip #5: Stay top-of-mind
Working with a global retailer Sephora requires careful planning and attention. “We’re a small Canadian brand that doesn’t have the big marketing budgets of some international brands. So I’ve learned that I need to call our Sephora contacts regularly to stay top-of-mind. We need to be constantly coming up with unique, exciting ideas that we can bring to Sephora.”
The rise of digital retailing has created opportunities for makeup entrepreneurs. In the past, you had to invest massive dollars into retail counters, instore staff, point-of-sale displays and window visuals not to mention minimum orders of the product from factories. It required a large initial investment. But the global pandemic has changed much of this. Factories are willing to produce smaller batches of products. E-commerce platforms like Shopify make it cost-effective to create an online store. And social media can offer cost-effective marketing. It just takes listening, solving a problem and telling a story. Who knows. You could be the next Jo Malone or Bobbi Brown.