100 Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry

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These beauty moguls and industry influencers offer their experience in the highly sought-after and competitive cosmetics market.

15+ min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The global beauty industry is more than a half a trillion-dollar business. What does one need to do if they want to start a successful beauty business? What does one need to succeed as an executive in a large beauty brand?

Authority Magazine had the pleasure of interviewing close to one hundred leaders who have either started a successful beauty business, or executives in a large beauty brand. We also went out of our way to include the voices of many leaders and executives of color. 

We asked each of them to share their “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry.”

Here are the highlights of their ideas. 

Monica Arnaudo of Ulta Beauty

Image credit: Authority Magazine

1. The customer always comes first. I grew up in beauty retail with a very simple (and very powerful) quote: “If you take care of the customer, the sales will follow.” If every decision is guided by “what’s best for our customer,” we will continue to win affinity and loyalty.

2. Be nimble. The beauty industry is rapidly changing . Trends evolve and consumers seek the next product or service. It’s important to remain flexible and keep guests at the core of decision making. When digitally native brands started gaining traction, we quickly determined a need to offer these brands in our stores. Launching brands such as Morphe, Kylie Cosmetics, and Colourpop are great examples of this and our SPARKED program embraces it fully.

3. Stay educated. With new products, new formulations, new market research, and new social and digital influences and influencers, it’s critical to remain informed and savvy. I think back to when we launched Florence by Millie Bobby Brown as an example. We knew our core audience for this brand consumed media differently  —  specifically, they were very engaged with Tik Tok, a newer platform at the time of launch in late 2019. We created our first Tik Tok campaign to support the brand launch and gained valuable insights about the platform and Gen Z audience that continue to inform our campaigns.

4. Believe in the power of beauty. It’s not only a job, but a privilege, to help people tap into their creativity to express themselves. That’s what makes it so exciting to get up every day and do this work. Because Beauty is a “feel good” industry and everyone wants to feel good, I often say to people “we get to do this!”

5. Trust the endless possibilities: There are so many paths in the beauty industry  —  be open to different avenues and learning new skills. One of my favorite roles was a business development position (somewhat outside of my wheelhouse). I was able to drive several initiatives for the company, adding value to the company and gaining incredible knowledge that I still utilize today.

Lia Dias of Girl Cave LA & Married To Medicine LA

Image credit: Authority Magazine

1. Heavily invest in marketing and promotion. It’s easy to think that because the business is doing well, the marketing budget doesn’t need to be robust. I find that to be quite the opposite, it is when I am doing well that I double down on marketing dollars and it always pays off.

2. Integrity can’t be taught. Once someone demonstrates a lack of integrity, cut ties immediately. I held on to employees, vendors, and contractors for far too long because I didn’t acknowledge that fact. Once you see it and know it… move on. It will cost you more if you don’t.

3. Don’t be afraid of collaboration. As a new business, I was fearful to attach my name to other brands. How foolish! It’s about finding the right collaboration and brands that reflect your company’s values. Some of my best outcomes have come when working with the right brands.

4. Invest in the development of staff. Training courses, personal development, and workshops can be costly. However, key staff needs to be groomed. Once you find the right team, help them grow! It improves not just productivity but the culture of the company.

5. Learn from your mistakes… quickly. A lot of times I lost momentum by “crying over spilled milk.” It’s a waste of energy and mental space. Learn the lesson, don’t get stuck, and bounce back.

Jasmin Manner of The Honest Company

Image credit: Authority Magazine

1. Have speed. The beauty industry is very fast paced and growing faster than any other category. To succeed, you must have your pulse on the latest trends and the agility to execute swiftly. Someone once told me, “diamonds are made under pressure” and this really resonates with me and how I approach the beauty industry. You have to work quickly  —  often under pressure  —  and still need to deliver the best product possible for your consumer.

2. Have your ear on the ground and understand the consumer. Listen to your community and understand the importance of social media when it comes to listening to consumer wants and needs. In today’s community-based environment, listening to the customer is more important than ever.

3. Be design-driven. Delight your consumer. People want to use products that make them feel better and/or look beautiful. Having appealing, well-manufactured packaging and design is a part of this process  —  it’s all about the whole experience.

4. As a leader and a people manager, be humble and authentic, and give your team the opportunity to be heard and inspired. The modern employee (Millennial and Gen Z) has a different view of leadership and does not resonate with old fashioned hierarchies. They have a unique point of view and are also a consumer that deserves to be heard.

5. Trust your gut. This takes years of experience, including success and failures, but once you get to a certain point in your career, sometimes you just need to trust your gut.

Teneya Gholston of Creme of Nature/Revlon

Image credit: Authority Magazine

1. Innovate. Forecast and stay ahead of the trends. If you’ve ever worked on a legacy brand, then you know that it is not easy to keep the brand relevant year after year. It’s easier to hold onto what has made you successful. The “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality will stagnate you. I’ve learned that in the digital age, consumers embrace change now more than ever. Being able to adapt quickly is imperative, and that includes introducing new line extensions and updating the packaging more frequently. Sure, a few loyal consumers will complain, but if the innovation meets their needs, they will adapt. Consumers crave updates in almost every category of their life, and beauty is no different. Today’s beauty consumer craves newness, especially if it improves her regimen or saves her time and money. Remember, you don’t have to be first, but you surely shouldn’t be last.

2. Problem solve. Think outside of the box and always look for ways to solve consumers’ pain points. Our best-selling product is our edge control, Perfect Edges. This product ranks №1 in our category because we provided a better solution than our competitors. Our team identified a gap in performance, and we made a product that exceeded consumers’ expectations.

3. Build relationships vs. networking. Networking can get you a basic introduction but doesn’t guarantee follow-up. Investing in relationships is not a selfish transaction. You are creating value based on common interests and goals. Relationships will certainly drive success and promotion.

4. Be a thought leader and a disruptor. I have always felt that my creativity and entrepreneurial skills are important aspects of my business acumen. Once, during a job interview midway into my career, I was criticized for being too creative and a jack of all trades. I thought about that for a long time and decided I was never going to be a run of the mill corporate brand manager. Beyond my core responsibilities, I’ve always been happy to dive in and work closely with creative teams and our experts, if that’s what it took for the brand to succeed. I’m glad that I followed my instincts because they’ve led me to my biggest wins.

5. Be consistent with your messaging. I extend this practice into my personal brand as well. Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room, and you want to make sure that you are known for two to three reputable strengths that you demonstrate daily.

Celebrity Makeup Artist Jerome Alexander

Image credit: Authority Magazine

1. Number one is you have to always have innovation. I always use the expression “America doesn’t need another cosmetic line.” So, in order to succeed, I believe you have to be creative and innovative.

2. Two is to put together a quality product. I have discovered years and years ago in the cosmetics industry that it doesn’t really cost more to make a quality product or to make one that’s inferior, it’s all in the knowledge of the chemists and the designer, and all the people that are involved in developing the product.

3. Three is to know your market: to choose who the demographic of the customer you’re trying to reach, to be able really to understand what your customer wants and needs.

4. Four is that makeup doesn’t have to be expensive to work. For example, you can make the greatest lipstick in the world for one dollar. And you could make a really terrible one. The difference between the bad lipstick and the magnificent one comes down to the skillset of those who made the product: the people who made the magnificent lipstick knew what they were doing in terms of knowledge, style, and ingredients.

5. Five is to use attractive packaging. Women like their cosmetics to look good. For example, if a woman is out to dinner and if she wants to take out her lipstick or powder, she wants to take out a good-looking product. Use the best packaging available.

Perry Petit-Beau of Wave Glyder

Image credit: Authority Magazine

1. I wish someone told me that entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. It is not lonely in regards to being alone, but lonely in regards to the fact that it is difficult to find like-minded people. There will be times when you have to keep your ideas and thoughts private. People will not always have the same mindset as you when it comes to your dreams.

2. Prepare to not make any profit for the first few years. For the first few years, prepare yourself mentally and financially to invest in your company. We all have this dream that in the first year you’ll make one million dollars in profits, but it’s not a realistic expectation. This means, saying no to dinners with friends and no family vacations. It means sacrificing the things you want to pursue your business goals.

3. Importance of credit. I wish I had known a few years ago, the importance of building and maintaining business credit. Most people only focus on their personal credit score but it is important to establish business credit for the future expansion of your business.

4. Don’t be cheap! It is important to keep in mind the costs associated with your business; however, it is also important to make sure that you never compromise quality.

5. Be a master of one. Being a jack of all trades and master of none is the norm today. When I first started my company I didn’t know that I would face mental challenges that would tempt me to become a “jack of all trades.” I learned that building a business requires 100 percent attention and trying to divide that attention into other gigs makes my business suffer.

Yegi Saryan of Yegi Beauty

Image credit: Authority Magazine

1. Determination is crucial. You have to put in the hard work to make your vision come to life.

2. Keep on going! Your hard work will pay off in ways you would never have imagined.

3. You can have a successful business without being physically present 100 percent of the time. If there are correct systems put in place, then it will be successful.

4. Help. Helping others is one of the most important aspects of success.

5. You need a social media following! Our YouTube channel was one of the biggest things that made my business what it is today. It’s so important to get your name out there.

Nikia Londy of Intriguing Hair

Image credit: Authority Magazine

1. Invest in a quality hairpiece for those days when you just have a bad hair day. It’s as simple as putting it on and walking out the door. Don’t forget the wig head and stand. It makes styling extremely effortless. I recently had a customer who had thinning in the front of her hair. It became difficult for her to camouflage the thinness with her hair. I suggested one of our hair toppers. She just sent me an email thanking me for saving her 30 minutes from her daily routine in the morning.

2. For Hollywood glam curls. After curling each piece. Hold your hair together in the palm of your hand. Use either a hair clip or bobby pin. To hold the curl together. Allowing the hair to cool down and set will produce more volume and longer-lasting curls. For fabulous curls without heat put a minimum of four Flexi rods in at night. You can also use more. It requires minimum effort. When you wake up it will only require less than five minutes to remove.

3. Kenra Platinum Silkening gloss is my absolute favorite hair product. It works on all hair textures and types. It eliminates frizz and is lightweight. You don’t have to worry about product build-up. It doesn’t weigh your hair down. The scent is alluring. I also adore their brand packaging.

4. My favorite tip if you need to control flyaway hairs. Spray spritz and hairspray on your comb. Then comb the top of your head it eliminates them. It was a tip I learned years ago on a photoshoot for a hair company. We kept cutting the flyaways off and it seemed the more we cut the individual strands the more they came back. The lead hairstylist gave me that tip and has helped so many individuals since.

5. Everyone should have a satin pillowcase. The main benefit is less friction, which prevents breakage and causes less static on your hair strands. Additionally, maximizing the longevity of any hairstyle, you had during the day. Moisture is retained because satin does not absorb whereas cotton does the exact opposite. When I do events such as hair shows or fashion week and it requires extravagant hairstyles, I prep the models a day beforehand and make sure to give them satin pillowcases. It makes my job so much easier.

Summer Latino of Chi Works

Image credit: Authority Magazine

1. Connect with your intention. When you start don’t get overwhelmed with everything you need to do. Map out a timeline of every project you need to get done. That way you can see where you are lagging behind and put energy there. …remember you don’t eat an apple in one bite.

2. Find your formulas and ingredients. Get a heat plate/stirrer, scale, measuring equipment, beakers, and a commercial mixer. Commercial mixers go from $700-$250,000. I learned about them and found a new one on eBay for 80 percent cheaper than the mixer salesman quoted.

3. Branding is a MEGA huge deal. You can’t do a one size fits all. Get super clear on your target market. 99designs has incredible freelancers for logo, labels, style guides, and websites. Look at different profiles, see which ones connect with you and your vision, and reach out to them for a quote. Negotiate.

4. Packaging is a whole crazy ride. Most places are 20,000 per SKU. I googled “best cosmetic packaging.” I found the one who won first place internationally for their air pumps. Since mine is natural, that sounds like it would keep it fresh and happy! Here’s what I learned- my customers want glass, the process takes at least six months and it’s super easy to screw up (I left out the very first ingredient of aloe on the ingredient list). I do have new branding so working on new packaging that is made from glass using windmills in Italy to power their production.

5. Don’t give up. Keep going. It’s crazy, it’s hard, it’s fulfilling. Whatever is your heart’s calling, there’s always a way to make your dreams come true. Work smart. Work hard. When you want to give up, let yourself feel however you feel, pick yourself up and write a list.

Maryam Ghafarinia of The Modern Beauty Industry

Image credit: Authority Magazine

1. Success doesn’t happen overnight. It requires commitment, hard work, and consistency. Put in the work and it will pay off.

2. Provide value. Whether you are an influencer or a beauty brand, in order to be successful, you have to provide value to your audience/customers. Your end goal should be making their lives easier by providing value.

3. Be authentic and use your own voice. Because the market is very congested, sometimes it’s easier to fall in the path of copying others. I personally disagree with this. Being authentic has allowed me to build a strong bond with my audience and their loyalty to me and my brand is undeniable.

4. Outsource. It’s important to designate tasks to others and have a team to help you grow. Focus on what you do best, and let others help you grow your business. If you end up doing everything yourself, it will be very hard to be successful because your attention gets spread out too thin and it’s easy to get wrapped up with everyday tasks and lose sight of your main goal.

5. Don’t ever stop learning. The beauty industry is very fast speed and in order to be successful, you need to learn how to keep up with it and how to adapt to changes.

Anthara Patrice of MyBeautyFill

Image credit: Authority Magazine

To succeed in the Modern Beauty Industry, you need to know:

1. Why beauty is important to you: Since the age of eight, beauty has been important to me because it’s a way to escape and indulge in all the things that make me feel beautiful from freshly washed hair to perfectly manicured nails.

2. What you bring to the industry: My mentee, Kayli always communicates she is a full-service cosmetologist meaning she can save you head to toe. That is important due to her knowing what she brings and how she can market and position herself in a constantly evolving industry.

3. Who your audience is: Many brands know who their audience is and may market and advertise to them very well but do not always include them in campaigns and partnership opportunities.

4. How your products and or services are different for new consumers to returning consumers: When I first began working on MyBeautyFill, I understood my client’s life cycle very well but had not considered how my current clients could be a conduit for product innovation to scale differentiation.

5. Identify where modern beauty best serves you. In a constantly demanding world, many times we can be inundated with how or what we should do from a brand or s

Source: Entrepreneur.com

Read more here:
100 Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry

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