Indie Beauty Brand Founders Share Some Of Their Biggest Business Challenges

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 11 brand founders and executives: Other than dealing with the pandemic, what’s the most challenging part of running an indie beauty business?

ROSE-ANN REYNOLDS Founder, Faraç Beauty

The most challenging part of being an indie brand is the lack of bandwidth. There are limitations when starting up, and the lack of manpower to execute my visions for the brand as well as I could if I had an investor. For me, this forces me to be more creative in the way I think and execute my plans for the business. The hardest part about running my business is making tough decisions: decisions about contracts, freelancers, product development, branding, and all the other day-to-day decision-making that comes with running a business on your own.

Nisha Dearborn Founder and CEO, Fresh Chemistry

I am a team-oriented person. I get energy from bouncing ideas off of others, facing challenges and overcoming them with coworkers. It's hard to sustain that energy on my own. I choose to work in a coworking space with other entrepreneurs, which helps.

Leila Aalam Founder, Beuti Skincare

Most small business owners can relate. The struggle is real when it comes to wearing so many different hats and trying to be successful at all of them. The reality is no one can do everything and, at some point, you need to delegate tasks to enable growth. I struggled with not doing every single aspect of the business myself, but I have learned through the years that building a fantastic team and bringing all their unique skills together is what makes a beautiful brand.

Annie Tevelin Founder, SkinOwl

For me, it is always a tug of war between moving in the direction of my passions and being able to afford them. I am always coming up with new ideas and unique ways to market SkinOwl, some of which are huge undertakings, mentally and financially. For me, growing has been a learning discipline. Even though it is a skincare line with a podcast and dinner series, it could have been more than that. Luckily, I was able to exercise self-control and just keep it to the things I knew I would stay hungry for.

Kristen Heaton Founder, Crave Naturals

I've found it challenging to know what path and process you should take when there is so much information being thrown at you. When you are starting out and funds are limited, it's difficult to know where to put your time and money to grow your business. I've made some poor decisions and lost money on services and processes that we were not ready for. Some of these include SEO, different types of advertising, and hiring a coach or consultant. I'm not saying that these will not improve your business, but you need to evaluate what will have the biggest impact in your business.

Helena Zaludova Founder and CEO, Hyascent

Literally, everything in creating and launching the business has been a first and, with that, comes a steep learning curve. Finding manufacturers who would be willing to work with an unknown, unproven one- woman-show startup was probably the hardest part.

LISSETTE MONZON Founder, Lilly Be

The most challenging part of being an indie brand and running my own business is what I refer to as the 3 Bs: balance, budget, and branching out. Balance is number one. Ironically, I started my business to be a stay-at-home mom. Being there for my children is my most important job, which sometimes puts business on the back burner. This meant moving at a slower pace than desired when I first launched. 

After the challenge of balancing family and business came budgeting and branching out. These two go hand in hand. As an entrepreneur, I have had to learn an overwhelming amount of skill sets I did not already have. I also had to recognize that there are just some skills that, no matter how hard I tried, were not my forte. Therefore, I had to branch out and grow a team, which, in turn, required a budget. 

Each of these areas and more have challenged me in the pursuit of my passion, but also made me stronger as a business woman and indie brand. Challenges prepare me for growth. They are opportunities to learn. At the end of the day, great passion and resilience are two required skills of an entrepreneur. My challenges may not be the same as other founders, but challenges are an inevitable part of running your own business. How we respond to the challenge is the key.

MARCELLA CACCI CEO and Founder, One Ocean Beauty

Running any business is about balance. As a new business, there are so many areas of business that need to be addressed (legal, financial, distribution, product development, marketing, etc.). Without a large corporate structure and funding, most of these areas have to be managed by a limited team. It takes multitasking to a completely new level.

Shivonie Tirbhawandat Founder, Sahasra

Social media has been one of the most challenging parts of running my business. As a brand, it’s important to adapt a few social channels so that you can build an audience. It’s a game I am still trying to figure out. Sometimes our engagement will be at an all time high and sometimes it’s so low. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, the engagement rate on your social channel is what matters most.

NIKITA MONTGOMERY Owner and Founder, Hazel O. Salon

The most challenging part of being an indie brand is not having a blueprint or corporate manual like larger corporations/franchises. This, however, allows us to create our own vision, standards, and operational procedures. When you have a specific idea of what you want your business to look like, not having a blueprint is great because we're literally able to write our own story and create our own model of what we want the brand to look like. 

PAAYAL MAHAJAN Founder, Essential Body

The term "indie" brand is fairly new in the marketing lexicon. Back in the early '90s and '00s, there were just small businesses and mom-and-pop stores. I love that more entrepreneurs are entering this space. There is so much room for everyone to coexist and thrive. There isn’t one aspect of my business that I don’t enjoy, even the shittiest, most difficult days, and there are plenty! If you have purpose, have clarity, are willing to trust your instincts and tune out the noise of what the world expects from you, I believe you will find your tribe and find success, whatever that looks like for you.

I have never been a conformist, and I’m not about to start conforming now. If you want your business to succeed, you have to align it with your passion and purpose. You have to be willing to deliver real value to the people who believe in you enough to buy your product. For me, not caring about competition or trends is a really effective way to stay true to my mission, ethos and create longevity for what I am building.

If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs, please send it to [email protected].