Despite Challenges, Brand Founders Are Largely Optimistic About What 2023 Holds For Beauty And Their Businesses

As we were strolling the floor at Adit Live, the trade show held two weeks ago by Beauty Independent parent company Indie Beauty Media Group at The Reef’s Magic Box that gathered together about 60 brands, we wanted to take the temperature of the founders who displayed their products.

So, for the latest edition of our ongoing series asking questions relevant to indie beauty, while we were at the show, we asked 13 beauty entrepreneurs and executives the following question: Do you feel optimistic, pessimistic or neutral about where beauty and your business will be in 2023?

Regan Schneider Founder and CEO, Aremes Fermentis

I would say in between optimism and pessimism, honestly. There are some ways that the industry is going that I really like. I like that there's more inclusion with indie brands.

But, within that space itself, we're kind of cannibalizing off each other, and I think there's a lot of bullshit that people in the indie space like to portray. I feel it would be nicer for everybody if we are just a little bit more real about what it is to be an indie brand because we're not only trying to fight the big guys that totally have all the footing, they have the backing, they have everything, but now we're having to do it with each other, which kind of sucks.

So, I'm hoping that people are just a little bit more open about the process and honest about how hard it is to do this and to have that be OK. We're all in the same space, we should all be working together to rise up together.

Niamh Hogan Founder, Holos Skincare

I think now it's even more important to have that direct connection with the consumers, so e-commerce allows that, social media allows that. By being able to put content out there, people are consuming and learning.

I think, because of that, I'm quite optimistic. Our messages are getting out there. Often messages get a little bit lost when you go onto a shelf somewhere and you're depending on someone else to sell your product for you, whereas online you can put your exact message out there and people have direct contact with you as a brand as well.

I think, to survive the madness in the moment, it's important to have that and to put resources into being able to communicate with the end user. So, yes, it's worrying, but I think, if you keep the customer in mind and keep looking after them as your top priority, we can get through it.

Minara El-Rahman Co-Founder and CEO, Mora Cosmetics

I would say optimistic hands down because, now more than ever, people are willing to try new brands. We have really great platforms like TikTok that are able to connect us with people who are beauty lovers and people who would love our brand. We can talk to them in a way that's authentic and real, and they find us and then they love us.

I truly feel that there's room for all of us to grow in the beauty industry. It's all about finding your community and fostering that sense of community.

Emilio Smeke CEO, Daily Concepts

I feel optimistic. I think the opportunities that exist right now are really big. It's a matter of the market adjusting to them. Today, we can take a product anywhere in the world. A couple of years ago, people weren't launching anything, and then there were all of these launches.

For me as a manufacturer in North America and the fact that we manufacture the products ourselves in our plants brings us a lot of possibilities as people are moving away from overseas manufacturing.

Megan Douglas Founder, The Organic Skin Co.

I think COVID and economy at the moment have definitely been a challenge, but you need to pivot and to be able to move quickly and adapt to what the environment wants.

So, for us, we could see that price was a real issue for people. They couldn't afford as expensive products, and we wanted to be able to deliver something that was actually affordable for most people. That was key.

We've done a lot pivoting in the last two years because of the situation, but, coming out of it now, we are in a very strong position because we've balanced ourselves to meet the new demands.

I think the other thing is you really do have to have a strong USP [unique selling proposition] in this market because the bigger companies that have more financial stability are able to ride the waves, do the quantities and make the deals that, when you’re still a smaller company, it’s hard to compete with that.

You really have to position yourself in a way that they can’t and that’s unique. So, what are you doing in order to stand out from the crowd? What's your reason for being? Authentically, what are you going to do for the customer and their skin? What are you going to do for the environment? That’s more important now more than ever.

Erin Johnston Founder, Silex Skincare

You're going to get to a point no matter where the economy goes where things get hard, and beauty has seemed to sustain throughout the ebbs and flows.

However, it’s crucial for small brands who are trying to go into the space to think about maybe positioning themselves a little bit differently than maybe they would in a growing economy. So, it's tough, but this is a part of the cycle and the nature of business, so I think I’m cautiously optimistic is the best way to put it.

Staci Morris Founder, Liberation Nails

Personally, I am optimistic particularly for my brand because it is an affordable luxury. I don't think that a lot of customers are going to go out and buy a new bag or buy a beautiful new coat because the economy is down trending. People are getting scared and they're tightening up their purse strings.

I feel like I have the type of product that's very impulsive. It's an impulse buy, and it's something that you can put on and feel great without having to spend a ton of money. It gives you just enough lift and self-care. I’m trying to lean into every problem, look at it as an opportunity and see how I can figure out how to make it work for me.

Megan Rein Co-Founder and CBO, Siia Cosmetics

We are feeling incredibly optimistic about business in 2023. About a year ago we just kept hearing, "We're not really looking for that right now. We only want higher priced items. We only want this or that."

But I feel like trends are now in our favor, the accessibility of price, the inclusivity, the Korean beauty, the skincare-infused makeup, that's what people are looking for. We've had more success in the last three to four months talking to both retailers and e-tailers.

People are excited about new things and makeup is doing well coming out of COVID. Also, you get smarter as you go further. You learn more and things get easier. We have a better team now in place, too.

We've launched on two or three different e-comm platforms in the past month. We get such positive feedback every time we talk to people now. With inflation being so high, people love the idea of something being the same quality as X, Y, Z, but only 30% of the price.

But it's challenging out there, especially if your costs are super high. We've always worked in a more B2B model though, so our margins tend to be lower than a lot of the direct-to-consumer businesses are used to.

We’re bootstrapped for the most part. Many companies that start by raising capital often cannot continue once that capital dries up.

Vishal Patel Production Manager, Kusum Cosmetics

I think we are in a very unique position in that our luxury price range gets most of the competition out. There are not many U.S. brands that are luxury and offering quality products at this price, and we have several unique manufacturing points that we hope that the customers are more and more aware of. So, we're quite optimistic.

Alisa Duclos Founder, Sweetums Wipes

I feel optimistic just because in sexual wellness in particular, even five years ago versus today, it feels like people are really embracing it more, and there's no other wipe that has flavor, so that makes me optimistic.

But I do think with that there are other challenges: The cost and the time it takes to get product make it more difficult. I still feel super optimistic. I think you have to be, right?

Kari Asselin Founder, Om

I’m very optimistic. We have only just begun digital marketing, and the level of growth we have seen is exponential, between 200% and 300% in some channels. We have an excellent customer retention rate that bounces between 60% and 70%. I feel like 2023 is going to be a big year for us.

We do our own manufacturing, and I love having full quality control without needing to depend on outside parties. Right now, we are at max capacity and are moving to a larger facility so we can continue doing it.

Lindsey McCoy Co-Founder and CEO, Plaine Products

I'm optimistic because, at least for us, I think sustainability and transparency are becoming more and more important–and that's what we're all about.

So, if people are making choices, the fact that we are very honest about what we do, thoughtful about what we do, and are providing a solution as well as great products, I think that's going to only become more important.

Hopefully, as people get more concerned about the planet and what's going on, that's the choice they're going make. That seems to be the trend currently. This type of packaging and clean beauty is growing.

Surbhee Grover Founder, Love, Indus

I think it's hard to be an entrepreneur without being optimistic. I think that optimism runs in your blood. But I do think you have to take a really hard look at what you need to do differently.

As people pull back and really think about where they allocate their money and their budget, it becomes even more important to provide customers with real value. They want something that they truly feel good about, where if they spend their money they feel like they’re getting their money's worth.

Brands and products need to do everything they can to provide them with benefits, the joy, the luxury, the sensorial experiences, the well-being aspects that everyone has started to associate with skincare.

I think they'll always be a place for beauty. Just like you have to eat, you have to drink, you have to breathe, and you have to look good. It's just intrinsic to human nature as much as loving is and eating is. I don’t think that will ever go away, but the form it takes will continue to evolve.

I feel like innovation is going to be super important. You can’t keep doing things the way you did. The supply chain no longer allows for it, the consumers no longer allow for it, the economic environment is not going to allow for it. So, you have to innovate to enhance what consumers already have today because giving them something that they can get from 10 other places is not going to cut it.

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