There are many ways to make a living today. We have social media, eBay and Carousell. And starting your own private label has become a norm now. Everyone is trying to start their own brand – hand-poured candles and hand-crafted jewellery to handmade soap and halal lipsticks– but not many know how-to. So, I would like to share with you NR Cosmetic’s journey, which can help you further understand the beauty industry.
Step One: The Product
You should never create a cosmetic line just because your friends are doing it and are great at it. Like I always say, never try to copy other people’s success because success is not something that can be copied easily. And as you start reading this, the process is going to seem exhaustive and impossible. The good news is that all of the heavy liftings is worth it when your brand takes off.
So, let’s begin with the first and most obvious step to your cosmetic line: finding a product with a unique selling point. While quality is important, you need to have a strong brand focus. For example, when I started NR Cosmetics, I knew that I wanted to create something that caters to the professional makeup artists yet user-friendly for those who are just starting to explore cosmetics. In addition to that, our products are incorporated with beneficial ingredients like Vitamin C and Honey Bee Venom to help give the skin the extra boost of nutrients it needs.
Also, you need to have a clear idea of how you are planning to sell your product. Are you going to sell it in a booth, via an agent or a stockist? You have to plan these before you create your brand. Have a strategy on keeping the hype going. I find having an agent works well in this situation.
Step Two: The Supplier
This step is usually met with the most obstacles for those who are unfamiliar with the industry. While China is the dominant player in contract manufacturing, you can get a good decent manufacturer in Malaysia that will be able to offer you products at a cost you can turn a profit on.
Try to find an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) that is accredited Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). An average person usually is unaware of which and what chemical or natural ingredients are safe or if they will work. With a certified manufacturer, it is more reliable. On top of that, a GMP certified factory would also assist you a lot on the KKM (Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia) registration.
I recommend looking through their reviews to make sure they have experience and are reputable. When you begin contacting them, keep a mental note on their response rate as you communicate with them. Trust your instinct and pick someone you can trust. However, don’t settle for one. Have at least 3 manufacturers so that you can compare the pricing and quality of the product. Some may offer free services while some will charge you for the tiniest inquiry.
Ideally, you should look for a manufacturer that does not sell directly to customers for your cosmetic line. Using ones that only sell through third-party vendors means the market is likely less saturated with those products. At the end of the day, know that most of the quantities and prices are negotiable. You really don’t (and shouldn’t) have to settle for whatever cost they have listed for you. Do a lot of research and make sure you’re starting off with a good product at a decent cost and then see where negotiations can get you from there.
Step Two and a Half:
You have a great product and a few manufacturers you can trust. Next, you need samples. And it is important that you be as specific as possible to all of them. Bring the closest samples (pictures, drawings or written details about the specificities of your product) you can find and hand it over to the researches. What may seem obvious to you may not be as obvious to someone else. Once your product is shipped to you, there’s no going back. Get as many samples as you need. Pay the extra charges for them. Trust me, it is worth it. Nobody wants to be stuck with thousands of useless products.
Another tip: do not rush! It normally takes months for a manufacturer to provide you with one sample. Also, hire someone who is a professional in the industry to test and finalise your product. Never try to thrift on this by asking your colleagues, friends and family to do it for you. A consumer’s standard is far from meeting the standards of a specialist.
When I wanted to start NR Cosmetics, my scientific background acquired from my university days and my current beauty background helped me tremendously in navigating my brand.
Step Three: Your Brand
Since your product is making its progress, you should use this opportunity to create and curate your brand. Consider where you see it five years from now. From name picking to logo designing, make sure you choose a name that has as many social media and domains available as possible.
Next would be determining your target market. Are your consumers from the lower, the middle or the higher income? Once you identify who they are, you can fix the cost and selling price of your product.
Step Four: Create a Killer Listing
So you have the product, the manufacturer and the brand for your cosmetic line. The only thing left to do is create a listing that will show your customers why they should buy from you. Many people expect a product to sell on its own. Well, in reality, it does not.
Of course, it’s a big bonus if you have already established a strong personal branding. Or else, you would need to ensure that your product meets the international standard. Be careful of the way you talk and associate your cosmetic line with. When it looks exclusive, it’s easier to reach your audiences.
Invest in a professional photographer or at least a lightbox to get quality pictures taken with your product. Remember, unprofessional pictures reflect on you as an unprofessional. And why would anyone want to trust a company that isn’t?
Same goes for graphic designers, website (very important) and marketing collaterals. Have a budget for everything and never be frugal about it. However, there is one thing that you shouldn’t splurge on, and that is a launch party event. From experience, it is better to launch and sell your product online first. That way, you can use the money earned from the sales to do the launch. Not many are aware that it can cost more than RM20,000 to do a simple party. It is not worth forking out the extra money for it when you can use it on more important matters to help boost your brand.
Be ready for feedbacks and testimonies when your cosmetic line is out in the market. From there, you may need to slowly fix your products accordingly. Again, never rush on your brand and product. When the brand is more stable, then you can start launching new products faster. I always believe cepat naik, cepat jatuh. The faster you sore, the faster you fall.
Step Five: Have the right attitude
As you can see, creating your own cosmetic line is not a get rich quick scheme you can implement overnight and hope to become an instant success. Like most things worth doing, it takes time, planning, and sometimes a little luck. The most important things to remember is to be patient, vigilant, positive and detail oriented. But ultimately, never be afraid to fail.
The positivity brings in more positive vibes which leads to positive income. Do not go telling the whole world about your problem. Find a mentor who can guide you and a good support team who will always be there for you. Competition is good but never compete with other brands. Your only worthy competitor is yourself. With NR Cosmetics, my vision is to become the brand of choice for professional makeup artists locally and internationally. I only have myself to answer to. Am I heading in that direction? Today, NR Cosmetics’ (available on www.nrcosmetics.com) easy application and professional finish is recognised by many makeup lovers. It is no longer only for the professionals.
When you envy others, you will fail. For all you know, others may be envious of you. A local brand should be inspiring, not fighting with each other. So, attitude is important. Believe me, there are products from NR Cosmetics that failed. Everything was all prepared but we decided not to put it out into the market because it wasn’t up to our expectation. But it’s ok. We need to move forward. Mistake happens. Know your weakness and work from there and you and your label will become stronger.