When And Why Brands Decide To Add Products

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 15 founders and executives: How have you gone about building your product portfolio from launch onward?

Heather Urquhart CEO and Founder, HUNA NATURAL APOTHECARY

We took a different strategy when we launched in order to test the market and find our right product-market fit. We launched with a large product portfolio, which included facial, body and nail care. We have since removed our body care line to focus exclusively on facial care, although we have kept our nail care SKUs alive as they are top sellers.

We have actually reduced our portfolio since launching, which was both a reaction to the competitive landscape – because our body care just wasn’t selling as well – and a business decision of rationalizing our portfolio into something more manageable for an early stage start-up.

For us, it was about recognizing our strengths more than anything. We are truly dermal and botanical science experts. As the CEO and founder, I am also a botanist and herbalist, so our focus will always be creating scientifically-demonstrated healthy, natural and organic botanical-based beauty products.

Now, we focus on what we know and do best, which is facial care. A natural next step for us is into color cosmetics. We’re formulating a 100% natural color cosmetic line, which is plant-pigmented – not an easy feat! – and contains our proprietary botanical active complexes to keep skin healthy, nourishing and happy, even while wearing cosmetics.

Lauren Craig Founder, Humble hive Homemade

My initial launch collection included only the toxin-free product replacements for items that families use on a daily basis. These daily essentials formed the framework of my brand and included the following: Natural deodorant, lotion bars, lip quench, lip gloss, tooth powder, bug repellent, sun cream, bummy cream and baby dust.

Once I had gained a more loyal customer base and steady revenue, I was able to expand into the more indulgent, audience specific offerings. These were the items I found tickled my need for creative expression, and included Lip & Cheek Stain, Solid Perfume Jars and Solid Perfume Locket Necklaces.

Once I had gained the trust of my customers, I was able to offer the non-essentials that were wants as opposed to needs. Each time a customer returns to my store to reorder daily essentials, they're able to browse the latest additions. If they're pleased with the quality of my natural deodorant, for example, they're likely to trust the quality of the solid perfume jars.

Dana Jackson Founder, Beneath Your Mask

Originally, I was going to launch with six products, but, as the launch date got closer, I felt like that would be too much. Not only would it have cost much more money to launch, but I didn’t want to introduce customers to my brand plus six products all at once. I decided to launch with the four multitasking products from my collection that could be used on face, body and hair.

I originally wanted to launch with my full collection because I wanted to make a big statement when entering the market. If I had to do it all over again, I’d launch with one product, and spend the money on marketing and hiring key consultants for my business. I’d let that one product and buzz drive the revenue it would take to launch my other products. Plus, once customers love your brand and products, they get really excited for new releases. It really is okay to start small in this instance.

Sima Mostafavi Founder and CEO, Pistache Skincare

I started my skincare line with a single SKU. This was a tough decision, and there are good arguments to be made for both a complete line versus starting with one SKU. Ultimately, I made the decision to start with a single SKU for three reasons. First and foremost, starting with a single SKU reduced my risk of making deadly mistakes that could potentially encompass my entire product line.

There are a lot of pieces that go into each SKU: formula, packaging, product copy, etc. Starting with a single SKU allowed me to test these pieces. In short, this allowed me the opportunity to limit any mistakes to a single SKU and make corrections for future products. Second, it’s costly to launch multiple products at the same time, so if you have limited resources, consider launching a single product because that gives you a chance to generate some revenue before producing your other products.

Please note, however, that since you only have one SKU, you are unlikely to gain any retail partners and expect modest revenues. Lastly, starting with a single product allowed me to build infrastructure at a reasonable pace and get ready for the launch of my other products. For instance, I was able to create a high performing Amazon store with a single SKU and, by the time my other products launched, I was well versed on the logistics and administration of being an Amazon seller. In summary, I do not believe there is one right answer to this question; instead, each founder needs to evaluate his/her situation, and make the right decisions for herself.

Willie Tsang Founder, Way Of Will

When we first launched, we started with products in the athletic category. We had natural deodorant, post training massage oil, yoga mat spray, etc. Then, we expanded into the home category with products like pure essential oils and gift sets. We wanted to make sure to have wide range of giftable products for the holiday season. Our essential oils are premium-grade, and we thought our customers would enjoy sharing them with their friends and family.

Jeroen Wilmink Founder, Oolaboo

We are a Dutch cosmetic brand established in 2011 by my husband and brother-in-law. After many years of being a distributor, also in cosmetics, we had a dream of creating our own skin and hair care brand. So, in 2012, we did it, and the first products were available at salons.

We started with skincare, which featured a complete range for every skin type. One year later, we added hair care. We were able to do this because we already had an established network and experience in both worlds. Now, five years later, we are available in nine countries. We also sell our products directly to the consumer through our online shop, but without passing our resellers.

For us, expanding into hair care was a natural transition and made sense from a business perspective since our nutrients-based philosophy connects the two with an emphasis on nourishing skin and hair from within.

Nadine Cormier Founder, Nu Evolution Cosmetics

Prior to launching, we were frustrated with the lack of aesthetics, functionality, and color palettes in the Green Beauty industry in terms of color. Coming from the Fashion Industry and moonlighting as a makeup artist, we noticed a major disconnect in the "Green" space compared to the top conventional Beauty brands that we knew and loved before making the switch.

Equipped with business backgrounds in addition to being creative, there was a white space in the market that didn't offer options for women like us. We wanted to bridge the gap between the two worlds and offer a solution for ingredient conscious women who didn't want to settle. Our brand positioning was benched against NARS and Bobbi Brown to name a few, but the differentiating angle is our ingredients. With our initial collection, we curated a product range with color palettes reflective of what women need and covet. Since launching, we have layered additional colors in our liquid foundations, lipgloss', lipsticks and eyeshadows. We later added a bronzer and a color corrector.

Our affiliation with New York Fashion Week and makeup artists behind the scenes is what drives our inspiration and makes NU EVOLUTION the go-to for Designers looking for a natural makeup artistry brand. It's a work in progress, but we look forward to evolving NU EVOLUTION to the next level one day at a time.

Tanna Kelley Founder, tanna

We have recently expanded into body care. Our new products are a body polish and a body balm. We get so fixed on our facial care that we forget how important a good body scrub and moisturizer is. I want customers to get the most out of our products, so I formulated the Body Balm to be cocktailed with our Beauty Oil for extra hydration and nutrients if they need it. We have also been working on our aromatherapy products. We are a line focused on overall wellness, so we want to provide as much as possible to make you feel good from skin care, body care and wellness products.

Erin Williams Founder, Erin’s Faces

When I started Erin’s Faces, the clean beauty movement wasn’t full swing and that hadn’t been my background. I had worked for lines that were traditional beauty brands — Dior, Urban Decay, Philosophy — so green beauty wasn’t really on my radar. I put my line together with beautiful, functional products and felt great. That is, until I did more research and learned about petrochemicals in lip gloss. Then, a family member got skin cancer and I threw out all of our chemical SPFs, took six months to reformulate a physical one, and came out with that.

We didn’t start as a clean brand, but we’ve definitely transitioned to one because, once I started down the rabbit hole of ingredient decks, I felt irresponsible and guilty not making a change. I couldn’t take people’s hard-earned money and give them something that I knew could potentially hurt them. We’re constantly striving to be better and do better.

Andrea Barone Sazwan Founder, Crystal Hills

After our initial launch, we added a travel/trial size to make it easier for people to try our products without the full-size prices. My next plan was to launch our herbal salves. However, we ended up receiving requests from spas and salons to provide massage oils to use with their luxury manicures and pedicures, and not just for clients who were booking for full massage sessions.

Trenna Edwards-Quevreaux Founder, Esther & Mila

Esther & Mila has actually gone through a couple of incarnations since its founding. What originally started as a side project and fun hobby of making scented candles and kitchen hand-soap has morphed into a serious passion project and business encompassing a full line of skin and body care products.

After making the conscious decision to ban synthetic fragrances from my products and use only essential plant based oils, I felt comfortable moving into skincare knowing I was only ever using the purest natural ingredients. An additional benefit of using these essential oils is that I am able to formulate my products with specific aromatic blends for mood enhancing benefits for my customers’ mood, all while addressing their skincare needs.

The initial skincare line was the beginning of Esther & Mila in its current form. After the initial launch and success of the skincare collection, I began thinking about how to grow our offerings. I kept coming back to things I had always enjoyed using like bubble bath, and I wanted to recreate these fundamental offerings with an all-natural slant. Today, our online offerings have our customers covered from head-to-toe and strive to benefit our customers’ whole selves. I love what Esther & Mila has become, and I’m excited to continue to expand and evolve with this brand and with our customers.

Cassy Burnside Founder and CEO, FATCO

Soon after our launch in April 2014, we had a lot of moms emailing us asking if it was safe to use our Body Butta on their babies with eczema or psoriasis. Since we use therapeutic-grade essential oils in our products, our Body Butta really isn't safe for children under two to use. So, we removed the essential oils and simplified the ingredients list, and launched our Baby Butta in early 2015.

Now, two years later, we have tons of before-and-after photos that moms have shared with us showing the amazing results of their babies finding relief from these awful skin conditions. Many moms are extremely happy to have found a non-toxic eczema relief cream to use on their little ones.

Jill Sung Co-Founder, JUARA  

We started our line with two products, the Candlenut Body Creme and Candlenut Body Polish, because the fragrance elicited that soft warm memory of Bali and the products road-tested so well on fragrance and texture. But, we always intended our line to be a body and face line, or beauty from head-to-toe, which is how we envisioned the treatment of skin. In Bali, the spa treatments are often body and facial treatments because of the belief in wellness and the body as a whole, so even though we were spanning two categories of personal care, it was what we believed.

Within a year of launching the body products, we launched with our Rice Facial Cleanser, Sweet Black Tea & Rice Moisturizer and our Milk and Red Sandalwood Mask. Masks are integral to the Indonesian spa experience, and we wanted to launch with a full treatment as one would receive in a spa, but at home. All three were envisioned as for all skin types with that do-it-yourself home spa experience. So, with the launch of the five products in total, we felt that we could offer the whole face and body in-home Bali spa experience.

Azra Hajdarevic Co-Founder, Terra & Co.

At the beginning of Terra & Co., our activated charcoal toothpaste came with the black plastic toothbrush. As an eco- and health-conscious brand, we knew what kind of negative impact plastic toothbrushes make on our environment and made a decision to switch to the bamboo 100% biodegradable toothbrushes. This not only made us happy and excited, but also our consumers were thrilled to have both products they love in a biodegradable and non-toxic option.

Kari Gran Founder, Kari Gran

We launched our small, yet mighty skincare line with a treatment lip balm, Cleansing Oil, Hydrating Tonic and Essential Serum. Fast forward three years, and we added a daily facial sunscreen to answer our customers request for an anti-aging product. According to a survey we conducted, 84% of women aren’t doing one of the easiest things to prevent photoaging, wearing sunscreen, despite the fact ever-present UVA rays have been linked to skin aging.

Another customer request was a thicker moisturizer and an eye cream. So, I reformulated our ever-popular Essential Serum – one of the original products we launched with – into a balm for those who want more of a cream-like experience. Like the rest of the skin care line, it is free from any added water or fillers, so you get a highly-contracted product. We also expanded our treatment line of Lip Whip to include color. We like to think of it as the perfect lipstick meets lip balm hybrid.

I suppose what comes with age is a bit of wisdom. My skin loves hydration and protection with a simple skin care ritual. We believe that other women share in our belief and approach to skincare, and hope to spread the word to be kind to your skin.

If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs, please send it to editor@beautyindependent.com.