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Approaching Manufacturers: Tips for Emerging Beauty Brands

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Approaching Manufacturers

Approaching and partnering with manufacturers is a crucial step for aspiring beauty brand founders, requiring more than just passion for the industry. This blog post delves into the essentials of making a strong first impression, strategizing your approach, and forging a productive partnership with your manufacturer. From the professionalism signaled by using a domain-specific email to understanding and negotiating critical manufacturing terms, each step is pivotal in setting your brand apart. Here, we explore practical advice on effectively communicating your vision, ensuring quality, and managing timelines to not only launch but also sustain and grow your beauty brand in a competitive market.

Don’t underestimate the time it takes

Underestimating the time to launch a beauty brand is a common oversight that can hinder success. The time it takes from start to launch is typically at least two years and it’s not uncommon for things to take even longer. You need time for product development, testing, packaging, regulatory compliance, marketing, and distribution.


Moreover, recognizing the extensive nature of the development process aids in effective resource management and setting clear expectations with stakeholders. During this time, you also have the opportunity to build a unique brand identity, establish an online presence, and engage with your target audience well before launch. Early engagement is key to generating anticipation and cultivating a loyal following. This is a necessary investment in creating a quality product and a compelling brand poised for long-term success.

Not having a business email

In the beauty industry, where the competition is fierce and details are paramount, the email address you use to connect with manufacturers can significantly influence their first impression of your professionalism. A generic email address might inadvertently signal a lack of seriousness about your business. Manufacturers, who receive a myriad of inquiries daily, are quick to differentiate between potential long-term partners and fleeting contacts.


A personalized email address (e.g., yourname@yourbrand.com) is more than just a form of communication; it's a reflection of your commitment to your brand and an indication of your business's professionalism. Such a domain-specific email not only helps in establishing trust but also sets you apart as an entrepreneur who is serious about forging meaningful and lasting partnerships. It’s not the most important thing, but it’s a small detail that can still make a difference.


Crafting a Clear Product Vision for Manufacturers

A clear and detailed product vision is critical when engaging with manufacturers for your beauty brand. From the outset, it’s essential to communicate not only the type of product you’re aiming to create—such as skincare or cosmetics—but also the specific details like ingredients, textures, packaging, and ethical standards. This level of detail shows manufacturers your commitment and helps them understand your needs, potential challenges, and the feasibility of meeting your expectations.


Providing a comprehensive brief early on does more than just outline your product; it establishes a basis for meaningful collaboration, allowing manufacturers to offer tailored insights, alternatives, and innovations. It respects their expertise, reduces the likelihood of miscommunication, and aligns your brand values with the manufacturing process, ensuring the final product resonates with your intended audience.


Ultimately, presenting manufacturers with a well-defined product vision is a testament to your professionalism and strategic planning. It facilitates a smoother development journey and lays the groundwork for a successful partnership, crucial for bringing your beauty brand to life.

graphic of various data visualizations, no actual data, its just illustrative of a business plan.

Making Them Believe in Your Business

Ensuring manufacturers see the value and potential in your brand is more than presenting a business plan; it's about convincing them of your vision's viability and your commitment to long-term success. Effective communication goes beyond product details, encompassing a strategic overview of market entry, growth prospects, and how you intend to capture and expand your target market. This conveys not just your readiness but positions you as a partner poised for mutual growth rather than a one-time client.


Highlighting your understanding of the market, unique selling points, and detailed strategies for sales and distribution underscores your brand's potential. Manufacturers who believe in your vision are more inclined to support your initial phases with flexible terms and dedicated resources, enhancing product quality and contributing valuable insights.


Ultimately, convincing manufacturers of your brand’s potential fosters a partnership based on mutual respect and shared goals. It encourages them to invest in your success, often leading to more supportive collaboration and potentially preferential treatment. Convincing your manufacturing partners of your brand’s promise is foundational for building a lasting, successful relationship that benefits all involved.


Manufacturer Terms

Before choosing a manufacturer for your beauty brand, it’s crucial to clarify several key terms that will guide your partnership. This includes understanding formulation ownership, revision scopes, roles and responsibilities, and minimum order quantities. Establishing these details upfront ensures a smooth development process and aligns both parties’ expectations, laying the groundwork for a successful collaboration.:


Ownership of the Formulation: Fundamental for safeguarding your intellectual property and ensuring you can make independent changes and scale your products without limitations. If you don’t own your formulation you can’t go to another manufacturer to create you product later, which limits your ability to negotiate.


Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs): Understanding the minimum number of units the manufacturer is willing to produce at one time is crucial for planning your inventory and financial projections. Negotiate MOQs that align with your launch strategy and growth expectations.


Quality Assurance Processes: The manufacturer's commitment to quality control, including specific testing and standards, ensures the consistency and safety of your products. This term is non-negotiable for maintaining your brand's reputation.


Production Lead Time: Knowing the timeframe from order to delivery is essential for managing your product launch and restocking schedules. Delays can impact your marketing and sales, so ensure lead times are realistic and aligned with your business needs.


Regulatory Compliance: Confirm that your manufacturer adheres to all relevant regulations and possesses the necessary certifications for your product category. This ensures legal compliance and protects your brand's integrity.


By addressing these comprehensive terms in your negotiations, you create a transparent and strong foundation for your partnership with the manufacturer. This approach not only mitigates risks but also positions your brand for a successful launch and sustainable growth. Remember, these discussions are as much about building a relationship as they are about defining the technicalities of your partnership.


Don’t settle for less

In the development of your beauty brand, the evaluation of prototypes and samples is a pivotal moment where your vision starts to take tangible form. It's at this stage that the importance of not settling for less becomes clear. Initial samples may not always meet your expectations, but this should be viewed not as a setback but as an opportunity to refine and improve the product.


Clear, constructive communication with your manufacturer is key when a sample falls short. Articulating your feedback and exploring alternatives together demonstrates your commitment to quality and the integrity of your product. It’s a process that involves patience, persistence, and a willingness to engage deeply with the manufacturing process to achieve the best possible outcome.


This approach not only helps in perfecting your product according to your vision but also strengthens your partnership with the manufacturer by establishing high standards of quality and collaboration. Ultimately, insisting on excellence and maintaining open, informed dialogue ensures that the final product truly reflects your brand's values and commitment to quality.

an arrow going thru and open arch labeled as shortcut and going out another open arch labeled mediocrity.

Don’t take Shortcuts

Launching a beauty brand is a complex journey, often longer than expected, tempting some to seek shortcuts like white labeling or off-the-shelf formulations for a faster market entry. However, these shortcuts compromise the uniqueness and quality essential for standing out in a competitive market. True brand essence comes from connecting with consumers through unique, high-quality products that embody the brand’s values.


Opting for generic solutions not only dilutes brand identity but also limits control over product quality and the ability to innovate—key factors for growth and adaptability in the beauty industry. In contrast, investing time in developing custom formulations signifies a commitment to excellence and distinctiveness, crucial for long-term success and consumer engagement.


Ultimately, a beauty brand's authenticity and success are built on innovation, quality, and meaningful connections with its audience—goals that shortcuts undermine. Patience and dedication in the product development process are foundational for launching a brand that resonates deeply with consumers and stands the test of time.


Final Thoughts

Launching a beauty brand intertwines innovation with strategic alliances and detailed planning. Central to this process is the dynamic partnership with your manufacturer, which is foundational to your brand's growth and success.


This guide emphasizes the crucial roles of professionalism, detailed communication, and mutual respect with manufacturers. Each step, from your first professional email to in-depth product discussions, is vital in turning your vision into reality. Understanding the nuances of negotiation, the manufacturing landscape, and setting clear milestones are essential components of this journey.


Patience, persistence, and a commitment to excellence are key in differentiating your brand in a competitive market. While the road to launch may be challenging, embracing these values ensures that your brand not only launches but thrives, marked by authenticity and a deep connection with its audience.


Let these insights steer your path forward, nurturing a partnership with your manufacturer that's built on mutual goals and collaborative spirit. The journey of bringing a beauty brand to life is fraught with challenges, yet filled with opportunities for those who proceed with clarity and determination.

Thank you for reading! //Jennifer Carlsson


Portrait photo of Jennifer Carlsson, short neon green hair and rainbow colored eye makeup
Jennifer Carlsson
The Beauty Brand Expert

I'm Jennifer Carlsson, a 30 year old strategy consultant, competitive market researcher, data analyst and designer from Stockholm, Sweden. I know more about more beauty brands than anyone else and I'm an expert in what it takes for beauty brands to succeed.
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