Indie Beauty Entrepreneurs Advise Retailers On Driving Their Brands’ Sales At Stores

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 12 brand founders and executives: What does your most successful retail partner do that you wish became an industry standard?

Mariska Nicholson Founder, Olive + M

Events and workshops. Our most successful retailers, including spas and beauty boutiques, are keeping their calendars full with elevated and interactive experiences for customers beyond purchasing product at the register. We’ve seen an increase in requests for special pop-up events, master classes and founder talks from all of our tier-one wholesale accounts.

Supporting your accounts with these special requests may not always show an instant ROI, but the trickle-down effect we see after providing their customers with face-to-face interaction with Olive + M continues to show an upward sales pattern over time.

Once these offerings become an industry standard and more retailers understand the importance of giving the customer multiple reasons to walk into a retail space, we feel there is strong potential for a brick-and mortar-comeback, at least in the beauty category.

Margot Helm Msc., Founder, Andmetics

We would love to see that retailers are open to display actions to give startup companies a chance to position themselves apart from traditional brands. Furthermore, the retailer also signals with displays to their customers that they are on the pulse of new trendy brands.

Our displays are high quality and visually appealing, and the customer finds everything they need for perfect eyebrows. Placements are not only very helpful for a fresh new brand to gain a foothold in the market, they also help retailers implement a trendy presentation in their stores.

Dominique Nemery Founder, Amatera Cosmetics

Partnerships and shared values are important. Unfortunately, some retailers are more motivated by margin than by the products they are selling, but some new retail partners have entered the market with a more ethical business approach. Let’s continue this eco-responsible trend.  

Our retail partners are as exigent as we are when they select the brands they distribute. For them, the terms natural, organic, clean, transparency and independent are key. Each retail partner who tested our products was positively surprised by our formula. Having carefully selected their brands, they are also the best brand ambassador as their customers trust them and their choices.

Lisa Pineiro Founder and CEO, Glotrition

I’m so glad you’re asking this question! Training and access. I have to give props to Nordstrom on this one. They make it so easy for their brands to come into the stores to train staff and engage with customers. You’d be surprised at how many retailers don’t allow this sort of access. They also have numerous opportunities throughout the year to get your brand in front of large groups of people via their Beauty Trend Shows and other events.

Gitte Dalberg-Larsen Co-Owner and Commercial Director, OrganiCup

We can only speak for ourselves, but, as with any other relationship, we believe developing successful relationships with retail partners requires open and honest dialogue. Be communicative, treat them fairly, and be loyal.

In-store ambassadors are crucial to us. Sometimes, you need a bit of advice and reassurance to make the switch to a new product and, as we can’t be present, we rely heavily on the staff to provide customers with honest and credible counselling about our products. Therefore, we always offer and encourage the staff to try the OrganiCup. A dedicated and motivated staff is invaluable!

Meryl Marshall President and Chief Product Officer, Hynt Beauty

We had tremendous success participating in The Detox Box with The Detox Market. I think their focus on one brand at a time is a game changer. It introduces the brand to their customers in a deeper, more meaningful way, and the immersive experience of trying multiple, full-size products are effective. We also had a very positive experience when The Detox Market Canada arranged for me to do desksides with their PR agency. Laura Townsend, the marketing director, went with me to each one, and we obtained substantial press there.

I also participate in several meet the founder series with various retail and distribution partners, and find the interaction with both the store staff and their customers to be beneficial across the board.

It’s also helpful that many of our retail partners either pay all or part of the cost of samples with each order, although many times we include them at no cost. The power of sampling is key to growing a cosmetics business.

Natasha Jay Founder, Pump Haircare

Our most successful stockists are the ones that invest time on social media posting tutorials and other UGC [user generated content] featuring our products. We wish they all had the resources to do that and get the payback from those efforts. It can be fun and good business at the same time.

Teodora Saguna Co-Founder, Sarya Couture Makeup

We recently started working with Love Lula. We love how professional and supportive they are with new brands they bring in their portfolio. What we liked most about them are the marketing and PR opportunities (from product offers to subscription boxes) they offer to each brand in order to help them build exposure and easily reach the consumer.

They offer the opportunity to work with their base of influencers and press relations for no fee and to reach their entire base of subscribers with product samples. That's free marketing for us, and we all know that being an indie brand does not come with a seven figure marketing budget. We strive to do all of our communication in-house with limited budgets. That's why we rely on our strong retail partners also for marketing and PR support.

Laura Stearn CEO and Founder, Just Pure Essentials

Our most successful retail partnermeaning the company is very successful, and they are also very successful selling our product lineis the Erewhon stores in L.A. Their success is not only attributed to attracting a A-list celebrities into their stores, and everyone else who hopes to see someone famous, but mainly to two strong principles: 1) The products they carry have to be the purest and the cleanest. They have highly elevated standards that customers trust without hesitation. 2) They make sure their staff is extremely well-educated on the products they carry and health and nutrition in general.

They require vendors to perform regular staff trainings. A knowledgeable and friendly staff not only helps sell the products they carry, but also builds relationships, trust and encourages loyalty at the customer level.

Tess Taylor Founder, Taylor + Tess

I wish the collaborative aspect of working with local retailers became an industry standard for retailers of all sizes. We are self-distributing through our e-commerce site and have plans to look at bigger online sales platforms. As an indie brand, we are drawn to local and ethical retailers in the cities where our brand was founded, Dallas and Los Angeles.

Sebastien Tardif CEO, Veil Cosmetics

A knack for discovering indie brands like ours and giving them the credibility and exposure they deserve. Unfortunately, brick-and-mortar retail stores are very conservative in their cosmetic brand choices, and you can find the usual suspects everywhere. [There's] no real diversity or sense of discovery.

Patti Pao Founder and CEO, Restorsea

Our brand is currently sold through physicians. This is a great channel because we are dealing with fellow entrepreneurs. As a result, our physician channel is very open to partnerships and executing new ideas.

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