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INDIE INSIGHTS ON STARTING A COSMETIC BUSINESS


Formula Botanica, the UK-based, international award-winning online organic cosmetic formulation school has been providing training for over eight years aimed at teaching its students how to start a skincare line of their own. During this time, the school, which is accredited by the UK’s Open and Distance Learning Quality Council, has gained a vibrant student and graduate community of over 9,000 organic skincare entrepreneurs across 162 countries.

The sheer numbers indicate that there is huge interest in the natural and organic beauty sector. Demand for the school’s growing portfolio of online courses, which range from its popular, entry-level Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation to its advanced diplomas in skincare and haircare, has never been stronger, especially during the Covid-19 lockdown period. The school’s latest enrolment at the end of April saw students enrol for a record 2,400 courses in a week.

Formula Botanica’s priority lies not only in guiding its students to complete their formulation studies, but also in seeing them equipped with the requisite business skills to become beauty entrepreneurs. 

To help its students make the leap into business, Formula Botanica launched in autumn last year its online Diploma in Beauty Brand Business Management. The new course, which saw nearly 500 students enrol in its first intake, is a comprehensive training programme on starting a cosmetic business at home and building a beauty brand from scratch.

School CEO Lorraine Dallmeier, who was awarded the CEW UK Digital Achiever Award, 2018 for her achievements in growing Formula Botanica into a formidable digital learning platform, said that it was not enough for the would-be beauty entrepreneur to have a passion for natural, organic skincare formulation if they wished to launch a successful cosmetic business. 

“New beauty entrepreneurs are entering what is now, a very active indie market.  First, they must understand that they need to differentiate their offering. Being an organic, natural brand is not enough to stand today. They also need to realise that they are running real businesses, with all the commitment, skills, financing and risks involved”, said Dallmeier. 

A glance at the school’s yearbook, which features just some of its alumni’s brands, shows that a good many indie founders this past year have sought out viable niches and demonstrated the sense of purpose and strong business skills needed to succeed. 

In Hong Kong, Formula Botanica graduate and registered nurse Coyran Cheung launched Osco Natural which focuses entirely on anti-pollution skincare. Osco products gained recognition immediately, winning Beauty Shortlist Awards in both the 2019 and 2020 editions. 

In Europe, a similar indie beauty success story is that of Lucia Mencarelli who founded minimalist organic, fragrance-free brand Casa Mencarelli that draws on her Italian family roots in Umbria. From the start, Casa Mencarelli garnered plaudits including those from Beauty Shortlist, Green Parent, Pure Beauty and Free-from Awards. 

Now, almost a year on from launching its beauty business course, the school has run a survey to gauge the mindset of both current and prospective indie entrepreneurs. A key finding was that some 60% of beauty start-up founders responding said they intended to manufacture everything themselves; with only 15% indicating they would outsource all their manufacturing. In addition to the production role, some 53% of respondents said they intended undertaking most other tasks in the business themselves as well.

“What we discovered delighted us,” said Dallmeier. “We know from following up on our students that a great many indie beauty entrepreneurs are managing to create successful businesses by initially starting on a shoestring and minimising their reliance on third parties. 

“They do this not only for financial reasons but also to keep an all-important connection with their formulations. They wish to embed the final, unique ingredients in both brand and products that indie founders always talk about; and that is their passion, intent and love for natural cosmetics.”

The survey also showed strategies at work. Some 74% said they intended to use both online and retail outlets to get their products to market, which indicates their wise decision to minimise reliance on a single channel. Meanwhile, over half said they would outsource part or all of their branding, which shows that the indie sector is aware of the power of a professionally-designed brand in a crowded indie marketplace. 

Lorraine Dallmeier said that the survey demonstrated not only how passionate, but also how resourceful and driven Formula Botanica’s students were about making a difference in the beauty industry.

“I think the main take-out is that it is totally possible to learn the skills - both business and in cosmetic science - required for starting a beauty brand from home. In fact, given the current climate, it is even more important to start small and use your resources wisely, but equip yourself to think big later on as who knows where your brand might take you.” 

Formula Botanica plays an important role taking beauty entrepreneurs each step of the way, training them not only as formulators, but also to think strategically and realise their potential in business. In conclusion, Lorraine Dallmeier said: “We’ve seen former students get funded, go global and diversify. The sky’s the limit for indie beautypreneurs if the right foundations are in place”.

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Formula Botanica is offering a free online training course for anyone wanting to learn how to become an organic skincare formulator. Sign up now and join the hundreds of thousands of people who have benefited from the school’s award-winning online formulation and business training.