Starting a beauty brand is definitely not for the faint of heart. It can be rough out there, especially considering that there are hundreds of the same or similar products already on the market, and many more individuals with a great idea just like yours who are getting ready to launch as well. And if that wasn’t enough to give you pause, according to some studies, anywhere from nearly 50%-90% of all consumer products fail worldwide.

Despite so many reasons not to journey down this path, now may actually be the perfect time to launch a new beauty brand. Customers are tired of the generic, one-size-fits-all concept. They are looking for new brands that better reflect who they are as individuals — not only from an aesthetic perspective, but also in ways that are reflective of their lifestyles, opinions, and values.

That said, there are many things to consider carefully before developing and launching a new indie nail polish line. Preparation is the key! These are five points to keep in mind:


1. Clarify your brand’s purpose and point of view.

The most important step is articulating why your beauty brand needs to exist in the world. This is what will truly set your brand apart. Your story is unique because it comes from you — the experiences and choices that led you to want to create this line. For example, perhaps you were frustrated about not finding a polish that would survive your swimming workouts, so you decided to create your own. Or, you’d like to create a line that revolves around a particular cultural tradition that means a lot to you. Another example is tying a brand to a philanthropic mission or cause. The people who share in this frustration, appreciation for that culture, or dedication to the cause — they are your tribe. These are the people for whom your brand will be more than just another nail polish.


2. Show proof that your polish is special.

Customers need a reason to believe your story, and the easiest way to provide that is either in the form of pictures or documentation. Sometimes, just showing your face in the “about” section of your website will give customers a feeling that you’re sincere. The professional quality of the website itself will also go a long way in reassuring customers that you yourself believe in your own brand and are investing in it. Most often, all it takes is popularity to show that a polish is worth their while. This can be shown via social media follower counts, customer posts and tags, and retail ratings. Another way to prove a new polish is just for them is to provide details about the ingredients and/or technology — both what is in it and what is not.


3. Identify your ideal customer in detail.

Traditionally, beauty brands hoped to capture as much of the population as possible with their product offerings. We’re now seeing a shift toward niche brands that serve the unique needs and desires of a more targeted group of people. The trick is to be as specific as possible in describing this person — likes, dislikes, fashion, career, lifestyle. The more clearly you can visualize this person, the easier it will be to speak to her and to understand which products will work best for her. It’s important to note that while beauty brands may focus more on certain people, the intent should never be to explicitly exclude anyone. For example, Sweat Cosmetics is focused on active women who want long-lasting cosmetics. That’s not to say this line wouldn’t be perfect for a male TV reporter whose makeup needs to survive strong studio lighting. The targeting is more about the voice of the brand and with whom you’re having a conversation. Anyone who resonates or sees value in that conversation is still welcome.


4. Learn where to sell your new line.

This question is answered by your ideal customer, once you know where this person would be most comfortable purchasing your special line of polish. One of the biggest deciding factors is knowing if your ideal customer is a professional nail technician or an everyday Jane. Each has very different purchasing requirements. Professionals will generally purchase higher quantities from distributors, whereas a retail customer may just buy one or two items. Your pricing will also affect where your product should/could be sold; customers who shop at Walmart expect to spend less than those who frequent Sephora.


5. Budget for up-front development costs and future marketing investments.

Lastly, it’s critical to have an idea of where your dollars will likely be spent before beginning development of a new line. It doesn’t hurt to create a rough spreadsheet to outline costs for formulation, packaging, production, shipping, website, inventory software, staff, advertising, etc. Listing everything out will also help you prioritize what is possible to do now versus what can be done later. So many brands fail due to poor control of cashflow. You don’t want to get over-extended, especially in the beginning. Slow and steady is usually a good way to go. And don’t forget that a lot can be done for free or very little cost.


 Go Pro on Your Packaging

Little else can damage your brand more than an amateur-looking logo or label design. Regardless of whether you feel good about the graphic standards of your brand, it’s your potential customer who will be judging your brand next to others. Your logo and label are the first impression people will have of your brand, and that’s before they even start reading. It’s always worth taking more time and spending a little more money to hire a professional designer who specializes in the cosmetics industry. There are many nuances and regulatory requirements that general and amateur designers may not be familiar with, e.g., where to place the product weight and what font size it should be.

Patricia Valera

Patricia Valera


Patricia Valera is the founder of Beautybrandr (, an indie beauty brand development agency providing brand strategy, cosmetic product ideation and development, launch planning, and beauty marketing services. You can reach her at


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