There are way more job options within the beauty industry than meets the eye. There are product developers, makeup artists, CEOs, bloggers, marketers, and so much more. Whether you’re looking to become the internet’s new favorite makeup brand, build an audience around your beauty blog, or learn the basics of marketing products, odds are you’re consuming advice from all corners of the internet on how to be successful.
At Girlboss, we like to go directly to the source when looking for solid business advice. So, for all of you beauty-preneurs, we asked the experts behind some of the most prolific beauty companies out there the questions you really want answers to when it comes to funding, marketing, networking, and more. And let’s just say, their tips are spot-on.
Read on to hear what seasoned pros like the founders of Glow Recipe and Beautyblender have to say about making it in the beauty industry.
Sarah Lee, Co-Founder of Glow Recipe
How do you approach marketing when you’re strapped for cash?
“When we first started out, we only had two products. It didn’t make sense from a productivity standpoint for us to, say, have a full merchandising unit in Sephora. We couldn’t afford it! So, we had an open dialogue with buyers, and asked them, ‘For an indie brand like us, what are some smart ways for us to gain exposure without spending too much money or resources?’ It’s important to be open when negotiating with buyers. Instead of a merchandising unit, maybe some wall space would work. Tell them you’re willing to get creative.”
If you want to build your network in the beauty industry, but don’t know *anyone*, where should you start?
“There are a lot of industry events that give you the opportunity to meet people. Without really knowing anyone, [Christine Chang and I] both would just go to events and do our best to get to know people. There are a lot of events, even ones like SEPHORiA that you can buy tickets to. But trust me, if your brand has a point of view and is noticeably different, investors and media will start talking toyou.”
Christine Chang, Co-Founder of Glow Recipe
What do you wish you’d known when first looking for funding for your business?
“Bootstrapping is so important at the beginning stages of your business, because it gives you independence to find what you’re really looking for. We’re still boot-strapped to this day, we’re independent. But I think when you do figure out what you want, then you can potentially look for a partner who is a good fit. It’s like a marriage! You need to heavily vet the person that you’re coming to this agreement with. It’s not just about money, that partnership is more than just funds. It’s a strategic move as a business, so it’s definitely not something you should rush into.”
What do you look for in a marketing agency or when hiring for your in-house marketing team?
“You’re as good as the team around you. Hiring is something that we spend a lot of time on, to make sure that it’s a cultural fit. Right now we have a rockstar marketing team, and we do mostly everything in-house. It’s been so gratifying to see their talent, especially those who didn’t have a lot of experience to start, and they really grow with the company. Giving people a chance to blossom is really rewarding.”
Jhené Aiko, Face of La Mer
How do you decide which brands to collaborate with?
“It’s important for me to work with brands that support the same causes that are close to my heart and give me the space to create freely. At the end of the day, it’s my name that’s being associated with a project, so I need to be really involved. I look for people who are open to my ideas, who are truly down to work with me and don’t just want me to take a picture.”
When you feel like you have too many projects going on, how do you refocus?
“I don’t usually let it get to the point of feeling really stressed out over work, but if I do, then I’ll just cancel things. I’ll communicate that I need to just do nothing for a bit and am feeling overwhelmed. I practice mindful breathing all day, every day. I have a daughter, so even when I’m not working…I’m still kind of working. It’s just about taking things one step at a time and not overwhelming yourself. Make sure you take breaks and remember that it’s ok to cancel things! It doesn’t make you flakey.”
What’s one key piece of business advice you’ve learned?
“Never sign ANYTHING during Mercury Retrograde!”
Rea Ann Silva, Founder of Beautyblender
How should you approach designing a product? Should you design with Instagram in mind?
“Sometimes entrepreneurs get so close to their product that it becomes difficult to take cues from the public and what they think. You need to listen. You have to take in the comments, both good and bad, and tweak whatever it is you’re creating accordingly, to give people what they want. You can’t be so married to your product that you aren’t willing to adjust. It’s important to create things that fill a need, are authentic to your vision, and that will take your customers outside of the box a little bit—but ultimately you need to give your audience what they’re willing to buy.”
How do you set yourself apart on social media?
“You have to have truthful, honest content. You have to figure out who your audience is and understand what they’re looking for—and then sometimes, you need to push them out of that comfort zone. We try to think about what’s relevant to our buyer, what the story is behind our products, and why what we’re doing resonates with them. When it comes to working with influencers, we gravitate towards people who already love our brand. It doesn’t matter if they have a million followers, if they aren’t a good fit for us, our consumers will know immediately. They’re so savvy now, and they’ll smell the BS.”
Vicky Tsai, Founder of Tatcha
How do you build trust with potential customers on social media in such a heavily saturated industry like beauty?
“By being authentic and remaining true to who you are as a brand. Tatcha was founded as a values-driven company, and it’s something we strive to communicate every day to our clients through social media—who have and always will be our number one priority. As the beauty industry continues to evolve, consumers are increasingly looking to align themselves with brands whose values resonate with their own, and to gain their trust and loyalty you have to visibly stand for something they also believe in. It’s not enough to just sell them a product, rather you have to be able to connect with them on a personal and emotional level.”