I wrote this months ago on the eve of launching my indie makeup company: Squash Beauty, but decided to share it today with you lovely blog readers.
Every step of starting my own indie makeup company has been challenging- sourcing ingredients, creating amazing makeup, photographing said makeup, figuring out labeling, creating a website, marketing the business, pricing items so that I don't go bankrupt, figuring out shipping, selecting a soft launch date etc..
For those of you reading this and are also entrepreneurs, Hello and oh my gosh what have we gotten ourselves into? This is a lot of work! Despite the torturous existence that is the life of an entrepreneur, I wouldn't trade the long nights, early mornings, failed projects, and disappointing setbacks for anything. The last year of researching and developing the starting line of Squash Beauty has been an absolute blast and I'm so excited to be able to share that with the world on September 16th.
If you're wondering what a year leading up to launching a cosmetics line looks like, I've documented my journey for you.
Every entrepreneur has a Big It moment (a phrase I'm coining now). In the course of my life, I've considered starting at least 30 different businesses but none of the ideas stuck. My Big It for creating Squash Beauty came about as a consumer of makeup products. There is a gross lack of representation of people like me in the makeup industry/community. Instead of being upset at brands that don't make products for deeper skin tones, I decided to create a beauty brand that caters to people of color.
Creating a makeup line has always been a dream of mine, I just never thought it was feasible. Instead of thinking of all the barriers to success, I decided to follow through with this idea, because I think there is a huge need for quality highly cosmetics for light to deep skin tones.
I felt like I was in college again! Everyday after work I read for hours and hours about formulating cosmetics, comedogenicity, emulsions, solubility, stability testing, preservatives, packaging... Basically every topic imaginable. I crafted so many formulas (most of them terrible tbh) and learned more about chemistry in the past year than I did in all my years of schooling.
Maybe the most exciting part of this whole process. Shopping is fun! And daunting! But mostly fun. After learning about esters, emollients, emulsifiers, solvents, micas, iron oxides, fillers, and other sciencey sounding things I was finally able to order supplies and ingredients. It adds up. So quickly.
Maybe the second most exciting part of the whole process. Where all the shopping and research comes together! I felt so legit the first time I crafted a semi-usable cosmetic item.
True sadness. Sometimes emulsions separate. Sometimes a color which seems perfect in theory looks like crap in person. I put a little piece in my heart into every batch of cosmetics I create, so it is definitely a disappointment whenever products I expect to be great end up being terrible.
Ordering More Supplies
Probably the least exciting step in the entire process. Once you know how ingredients work, its a little less fun shelling out big bucks to create more product. I must admit, its nice to be certain of what you need and what you don't. But at a certain point, ordering supplies (and ingredients) with no money coming in is just a reminder that you're kinda going broke until you launch.
Creating the Perfect Formula
True joy. I've never had kids, but the first time I created makeup that worked, and worked really well, I saw a glimpse of the pride a parent must feel for their child. I invested time and money into this venture and I finally had something to show for it! I marveled and cooed at my little creations because for the time being this business is my baby.
There are at least a thousand decisions that must be made when launching an online store. I'm pretty sure that's a low estimate. Although most of these decisions are mundane, they all add up and can have HUGE effects on the business. How will this typeface combined with that color affect my branding? Labels? Packaging? Shipping? Pricing? Future releases? Website host? Swatches on arms vs swatches on faces? Product descriptions? Honestly I could keep doing this all day so I will spare you the rest of the questions that kept me up all night.
Creating a Marketing Plan
How do you get your brand name out there? For me its been through hoping and praying. Since I am starting with a soft launch ( a two week trial from September 16th-October 1st where I'll have a limited supply of items available to purchase) I haven't concerned myself too much with marketing, which may be a detriment to me... Idk yet. But getting the word out on a brand is difficult with a tiny budget and a one woman show who works full-time by day while chasing her dream at night.
Happening tomorrow and I'm freaking out! This is scary. I feel vulnerable. What will others think of my products? Will I get only terrible reviews and have to close before I have my official launch? Will I get any reviews at all? Will anyone even buy my stuff? I have seven million questions mulling about in my head and yet again, I'll spare you the deets. I am excited for this journey, and I hope you are too!