How To Start A Cosmetic Line with Karen Young

How To Start A Cosmetic Line with Karen Young

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– Hello everybody! I’m back. Today we’re going to be
talking with Karen Young. Hi Karen! How are you doing? – I’m great, thank you, cause we’re talking about
my favorite subject. – Okay, so we’re going to talk about how to launch a cosmetics line, and I’ve brought to you Karen, who is a cosmetics or beauty pro when it comes to this stuff. – So they tell me. – (laughs) and so she’s
going to talk to us about the landscape, how we
can attempt to launch something and then you’re going to
give us some tips, right? – Its some secret tips, secret sauce yes. – Ooh secret tips! Oh I’m
super excited about this. Okay, so if I wanted to launch a product, how would I go about doing it? – Well, first of all
you’d need thick skin. – Oh no! (laughs) – Believe me I’m sorry. And a really good idea. It is very very competitive, we’re launching in the united states, about 1000 indie brands a year. – 1000 indie brands. – It’s incomprehensible.
And the statistics, I hate to do reality check here, – Are not with me? – The statistics are not good. – Okay what is it. – According to Mckinsey,
80% of the launches, and it’s not just in beauty,
it’s startups in pretty much any industry in the United States, 80% won’t last two years, But, don’t get, don’t get
discouraged, don’t get discouraged my secret sauce is going
to help you out here. There are things that you can do, when you jump into the beauty industry, to at least put, put
the meter on your side, and we’ll talk about those, but it is highly competitive,
you need a great idea that isn’t out there obviously, or a new story to tell or a new technology, and you need- – So you gotta be bringing
something new to the table, don’t expect to do the same old stuff. – No because its a very
mature, saturated market, as I’m sure everybody whose
listening to us knows. And its tough to find that white space, the good news is it is, its simple, it is not easy it is simple to launch a
brand, thanks to the internet – Right – Nobody has to go into Macys anymore, and there are lots of
resources for doing that, there are lots of, an enormous
amount of trade shows, – Great – Where you can find
experts to help you do that, but it is, it’s a journey. – Okay so you need to know, you’re saying, there’s steps. There’s achievable steps, if you know what the steps are, you’re going to have more success, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy, you’re still going to have
to put in a lot of hard work – Hard work. – But that’s why I’ve invited you today, – (laughs) okay, pressure’s on. – Pressure is on! So you’ve been in the beauty
industry for a long time, you have a lot of experience, right? – I do, I do, it’s the
only industry I know, which is pathetic, but it’s so much fun, why wouldn’t you want to do this? – And so you’ve been able to grow with it. What companies have you worked at? – I grew up at Estee Lauder, in marketing and product development. And then I went to the
Lancome brand at L’Oreal, their Prestige division, and I was Vice President of Marketing and Product Development
there, for many years, and that was really when we began to see the scratching at the
surface of small brands. makeup artist brands, physicians
wanting to launch skin care and I said, you know what, I’m done with this corporate thing, I really want to go play on the sidewalk with these young brands,
with all this energy, so I set up my own consulting company many years ago, don’t do the math, and um, I split my business,
I still strangely enough work with Estee Lauder, and L’Oreal, I do projects for them, but my true love is helping young brands get in the market. – That’s fantastic, because
a lot of people that watch me are small, up-and-coming, formulators, people who are making their
own cosmetic products, and a lot want to do their own- – Well kudos for all of you, because the beauty of this
industry, pardon the pun, there’s always room for a great idea, a new concept, somebody with
an authentic story to tell that’s carved out, even
if it’s a niche market, and sometimes that’s better,
that you’re really speaking to someone who has,
perhaps, a specific issue, a specific want, because
as I love to tell people in the beauty industry, as
I love to remind people, we make products people want,
not products that people need. – Ah right. – Right, although I would dispute that because we need our beauty
products, but I’m just saying. We make products that people want, so we have to make them,
we have to be passionate about the products that we’re creating and we have to make sure
that we’re creating love so that people are dying and obsessed to come and play with us. – Nice, I was going to
ask you really quickly what makes the new world
of beauty so competitive, or was it, there wasn’t as
many players as one time, how did things open up? – Internet. Honestly, the
ability for a brand to speak directly to the customer today, because up until, lets say, ten years ago, you were going through the retailer. Whether you were in a department store, or in a mass market store,
and you were relying on the retailer to get
your brand message out. – Okay. – You could do some
television advertising, or some print, old fash-, does anyone know what
print advertising is? Nevermind. Um but today, you have a voice as a brand, it’s your blog it’s your website, – Right. – You are talking
directly to the consumer, getting that instant feedback. So there’s this intimate relationship that didn’t exist before. – So we’re no longer
dependent anymore, right? Like we can create, our
own, our own kind of pathway and bring our product
to people who like it. – And that’s exhilarating! And it just opens up all kinds of doors, and all kinds of opportunities. – Excellent, I want to
pause here for a moment because we have some
people here joining us, Hi Mohammad, it’s nice to see you, thanks for joining us today. Nina Molina, Hola, how you doing? Let us know where you’re from! Danny Mondi, I recognize
you from an earlier video, thank you for joining us
again, I have Karen Young here, – This is so cool. – And, if you’ve ever wanted
to start your own beauty brand I know I’ve fantasized about
it, but if you have too we’re brought you Karen
to talk about some tips, to get you to be able
to navigate the chaos, that’s currently out there
in the beauty industry, right, to help you launch your brand. So you have some tips for us. – Well advice. You know it’s- – Okay – It’s tough to, its a difficult,
challenging as you know, complicated industry,
it is self regulated, there is no guidebook saying, here are the top ten rules to
launching your own product, I continue to say that, number one, you really have to have a great idea. And that can be a concept,
a product, a technology, something that doesn’t exist, a problem, something, whatever it is,
but it has to be amazing. And then you have to do your homework. Because, you really need
at the rate young brands are launching, you really have to know what’s going on out there. You have to be aware of, whose playing in the same
space I want to play in, how are they doing it, how
are they talking about it, and what’s different with my story? And how can I get that consumer
to come and play with me. – So not only a cool idea, but
you need to know your market. So that’s very important,
that’s where the business side- – You need to know your market. You really do, and sometimes I will have in young indie owners, say but
I want to sell to everybody. That’s not really a target market, you really do need to define
whom you’re talking to, it’s like having a conversation. If I’m talking to you, we’re going to have an intimate dialogue I want to learn about you, I
want to speak directly to you That’s very different from
talking to a roomful of people. – True – And as a brand, we really
want have this one on one dialogue, so that’s very important. – When you say market, it would be like, uh would it be like 20 to three to- – I would even go smaller, – Smaller? Okay. – I love to pick a person, as my target market, so that
I really know who she is what kind of music does she listen to, what kind of food does she eat, what does she wear, does she like color, what kind of car does she drive, does she have a pet? Because then I start to know, who she is. Then my brand can really
speak directly to her not like over her head
and to her 14 friends. – So identify- – Does that make sense? – Yeah, identify the
persons lifestyle, maybe – Really intimately, absolutely. – That’s fantastic. – And then you need some
experts in your life, you need some people to
point out the speed bumps, because there are many. – That’s what I was going to ask you, how did you learn? – The hard way. – (laughs) like we all do! – Yeah, exactly. I was at
Estee Lauder a long time ago, and actually then marketing
and product people were trained, companies
don’t do that anymore there’s no time. You hit the ground running
and you figure it out, same is true of indie brands
getting into this industry, they learn by making mistakes, so find somebody who
can help you point out where those mistakes might be, and lets go around them, or over them, not crash into them. – Right! (laughs) There are going to be
mistakes anyway, I imagine – Its inevitable, because our industry is
half science and half art, creating product is an art, so there’s no right or wrong, there’s no rules, as I
said, there’s no handbook. – That’s kind of the
beauty of it in some way. – Isn’t it? Don’t you think? – I think so, yeah – I love that – I mean it’s scary, don’t get me wrong, very scary, but also really beautiful. I want to acknowledge some
people who have joined us, really quickly. We have IG: skinthana, Hi its good to see you! I’m here with Karen, and
she’s giving us some advice on how to launch a beauty brand. I also have midsommar, thank
you so much for joining! Nina Melina, you’re from Argentina! This chat is amazing, thanks for sharing Well thank you Karen, for being here! I really appreciate it. And sharing your expertise with all of us. So remind me again, what companies did you
work for previously, before you launched your own- – Before I launched my own? – Exactly. – I was at Estee Lauder, for many years, on the Estee Lauder brand, and then I was in L’Oreal
working on the Lancome brand. Then I said, time to be an
indie! Let’s join the fun here. – And it sounds like you’re really busy, so there’s plenty of
indie brands to help out. – Its so much fun, the
industry is just great, And despite the fact
that no one seems to know where the economy is going, everybody wants beauty products, I mean, you know, why not? Can’t have too much red lipstick, really I must have 500 of them. – Its very uplifting, right, you know. – It is! – Cosmetics is a play space now, – Truly – Even more so than I
think it was in the past. – Good point, yeah. – Exactly, so save your
questions for Karen, I’m going to let you
continue with the advice, but if you have any questions, save them towards the
end and we’ll make sure to try and get them all answered. All right, what other
advice do you have for us? – Well there’s the question of money, this doesn’t happen for free, – We forget about that don’t we, don’t come with empty pockets. – I know, I have a reality
check tab on my website and one of the reality checks is, it will cost twice as much as you think. – Twice as much as you think. – And people hate hearing this, but the fact is, while you can make a
product in you kitchen, and have a neighbor build
a website and put it up, there’s a lot more to it than that. – Okay – And creating formulas, buying packaging, influencers, you need a marketing strategy to drive people to your website, all of this costs money, and the issue is because of the enormous competition, you need enough money
to stay in the market. So, you launch, but
what are you going to do for the first two years? While you’re building your audience, – You know I didn’t
think of that, it takes- – Nobody does. – Two years? It takes two
years! Like to launch? – Usually it takes four. – Four years? – It usually takes four years on average. – Phew, so be patient, its not impossible, she’s saying not impossible, be patient. – Be patient is excellent advice, it takes twice as long
and costs twice as much, as everybody thinks its going to. Because you have to find
the right ingredients, and find the right formulator,
and find the right packaging and you think you’ve got a website, and tomorrow you change your mind. I want the home page to look… It takes a long time. – So it’s really just like life, where you know, you intend
to do this certain thing, and you kinda like, take this weird- – It is like life, yeah,
it just takes longer. – It just takes longer (laughs) – You just sorta have to love the journey, you have to love doing the homework, you have to love discovering
that you don’t know as much as you thought you knew, – Right. – You have to love the exploration, because that is part of the process, and the more time you
spend doing your homework the better off you will be, once it’s, once it’s your turn to get
that formula in that packaging, and get it on your website. – That’s great, now one
thing you mentioned earlier that I want to bring up, is that you also mentioned, that you have to follow the trends, Is that correct? – Well, yeah, you have
to sort out what’s a fad, and what’s a trend. – Oh That’s a good point, okay. – And there are some enormous trends today that are very consumer driven, and we all know the wonderful
power of today’s consumer, she’s really the one, making decisions certainly about what she’s purchasing, and the old, the old days of
advertising driving something as we used to say, Madison
avenue driving the trends, no, its the consumer today. – Wow, so it’s you! You
guys are more in power. – No, its completely, completely true. And I would say the biggest
category that’s affecting the beauty industry, is this notion of, well, health and wellness, and as you all know, it’s not just beauty, it is nutrition, it is managing stress, it is getting enough sleep, it is exercising, getting fresh air, having a significant other in your life, we know, is excellent for your health. So beauty is only one piece of that. And consumers are very
aware of that today, they don’t think that,
if my skins not great, if I just get the right
cream it’ll fix my skin. Not if you’re not sleeping,
spending hours on an airplane, eating garbage food, and
never getting outside and getting some clean fresh air. – Right – So I think that’s really,
if I had to pick one, that is the biggest consumer driver. She’s looking at all parts of her life, she’s trying to buy more nutritious food, and food and beauty are very linked, so at the same time she’s
reading ingredient labeling on her beauty products, saying hmmm, do I understand what’s in here? – Right. So it’s the wellness trend. – It really is, it’s huge. And you know, that leads us into, wellness for the planet,
which is sustainability, and that whole gigantic
topic of sustainability, and recycling, and clean beauty, is then feeding right off of that very holistic approach to
taking care of ourselves. – That is- – Its a huge driver. – Fantastic. I was going to
ask you one more question. I don’t know if you can share it, – Oh okay. – But maybe some, brands
that you’ve worked with? And areas that you’ve worked with them in. So while you think about that, I’m going to look to you guys, I want to know if you guys
have any questions for Karen, she’s helping us understand what it takes, to launch your own cosmetics line, So if you have any questions,
feel free to ask them now. Let’s see who’s joined us in the meantime, I’ve have um two people who’ve joined, Hi, it’s nice to see you,
thank you for joining us, I’m with Karen, and we
have fairentosh farms, hello thanks for being here,
I really, really appreciate it So do you- – Such fun. – Do you have any examples
to share with us real fast? – Favorite, favorite brands,
favorite indie brands? – Sure, that’ll be great – Some I’ve worked on, some I haven’t, I think just some of my favorites, that come to mind. – Okay – There’s a relatively new brand, from a woman who has a long
history in the industry, but she named the brand BeautyPie, and if you’ve- – BeautyPie! – I know isn’t the name adorable? And she’s working directly
with contract manufactures to keep the pricing down, but because she’s an industry expert, she’s making sure they’re
fabulous high quality products, – Great. – So that’s a current favorite, a company called Body
Stones, which is skincare, she, this is a former pastry
chef, who lives in Brooklyn, and started using, finding
organic shea butter, because she was having some
skin issues of her own, molding the shea butter in pastry molds, and making these wonderful,
what she calls body stones, in beautiful shapes, and she
chose a kind of shea butter that has a very low melting point, so it looks like a bar of
soap, but its quite soft, and you actually rub it
directly on your skin. – Nice, okay. – Beautiful, very simple ingredients, and she packages the stones in bamboo, so it recyclable, reusable material, and she has an amazing story, I love the whole pastry chef coming in, Again, food moving into beauty. – It’s a good example
of, how you were saying, you want to have a trend,
which is the wellness, but then having your own
take on it, having your own. – And that’s why it’s such a good example, because, there’s plenty
of shea butter around, but here she’s combining
her love of food and pastry, using her pastry mold,
and saying you know what, I want something real
clean and pure on my body, because I want to know exactly
what’s going on my skin. – Right, that makes sense! So we have two comments, Vincent says “that’s such a great idea” that is pretty neat, what I’ll do is, I will link to the brands
that you’ve mentioned, so you know, if your aspiring
to launch you own brand, you can- – Take a look, – Look at the brands, yeah,
maybe get some ideas of your own Nina Molina says, “What is
the knowledge I should have, chemistry, biology or
just a thirst to make it?” – Well if you’re not a chemist
or biologist, hire one. Because what you need is
the passion and the energy, because its a long journey, you need the energy, the
passion and the goal. So if you’re really driven
to create something, if you’re not a chemist or biologist, find one of those to be part of your team, and use their know- you know what you can’t be an expert in everything. – That’s a good point. – Right you can’t! – There’s so many things
you have to deal with. – And that’s why one of
those key things you need, is a really good team,
you can’t do it all. In the beginning most founders do, and that’s great, so you
learn a little bit about all of those categories, but at the end of the
day you can’t do sales, and finance, and product
development, and legal, and distribution, I mean, oh my god. -How do people find their teams? – Homework. – Homework. Do your homework. – And join organizations, in the category. So if you, if you want
to launch beauty products come to trade shows – Yes, just like this! We’re
at a trade show right now In-Cosmetics in New York City. – Exactly, join Cosmetic Executive Women, network and start building a resource list of those people you know
you’re going to need. – That’s great, build your community, and we’re going to leave on that note. If you want to continue,
with this discussion, then you can catch us
next on Facebook, okay? Look me up, and this
beautiphile on Facebook, and I will put some information about you and some of your articles
into the description later on, this video, so that
you guys can check them out, okay? All right, see you later, bye!


  1. Interesting to hear that the beauty industry doesn't fluctuate as much as other sectors. Seems like everything else is very dependent on the trajectory of the economy.

  2. Starting my own beauty related business has definitely crossed my mind. Regardless of what I decide to do, this was good to listen to. Thanks. Have you considered doing a podcast or taking audio from some videos and posting that?

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