From Etsy to Elsewhere
When Hues first launched her decals three years ago, she used Etsy as a platform. Interest was so great (thanks in part to custom orders) that her product is now carried by retailers such as www.fab.com and boutiques in Manhattan and elsewhere.
When asked about what she could have done differently, Hues mentions her website that’s currently in development. “I think my followers would have appreciated it if I had simultaneously launched a website during my rollout. This would have allowed them to grow on the journey with me,” she says.
On Keeping it Interesting
Hues is a social media regular. “ I frequently post on Instagram and social media to show followers how they can use the decals, what new product has launched, events I’m working on, showcasing and reposting clients’ work, and where they can buy the decals.”
Do Something You Love
When it comes to launching a product make sure your heart is in it, Hues advises. “Make it something that you love, because when you’re passionate about what you do, it doesn’t feel like work!”
How to Launch on Instagram
For Nguyen, it all started on Instagram. He did a set of nails using the Mr. Nail Art LED lights on the social media platform. “From there I created a YouTube video on how to use the LED lights. People would ask about the LED lights and in turn be guided to the website where they were able to purchase the product,” he says. Afterward, it was all major industry trade shows.
Mr. Nail Art LED lights came out when nail art was booming and Nguyen saw that professionals were “hungry” for something new and cool. Although LEDs have been big in Japan, they were new for the U.S. market, which made them an instant hit.
What Could Have Been Done Differently
“I wish we were more prepared prior to launching. People wanted to be distributors and we had nothing ready. We had no in-store displays, order forms, pictures of all our products etc. So when distributors wanted to place an order, it was very difficult,” says Nguyen.
On Keeping People Interested
Nguyen now has over 500 SKU, a far cry from the single lights he started with. He credits growing with nail art trends to staying on top of his product line. “When gems and clusters were popular we had every color imaginable. When shattered glass was happening we were already prepared. We are also constantly posting through social media to grow and maintain the brand,” he says.
“When you are launching a product, I suggest you put yourself in the buyers’ shoes and ask yourself what questions may arise. I also recommend promoting your product through social media, trade shows, and professional trade magazines.”
Nail Academy and Shop
Just What Goes Into a Product Launch?
A launch is about more than the actual product. Wireman reminds us that in addition to the actual product, “You need to do all of the photography for marketing, design graphics, check safety issues if it’s a cosmetic, create an MSDS, create packaging and labels for the product, have the product available for purchase online or however you are going to launch, and of course provide education and support for those using your product.” Wireman opts to do her own graphic design to get a cohesive look.
Wildflowers initially launched with NailSpex and it taught Wireman a great deal. “I think having better videos on the website and other behind-the-scenes stuff would have been a little more helpful.” Another thing Wireman realized is just how important packaging is. “Most people tear it out of the package and throw the package away, so I couldn’t justify spending lots of money on it, but I am learning that the packaging influences the decision to buy. Now we are coming up with super-cute packaging, like clear paint cans for the full set of our Art Paints. We know the product is good, but in the beauty industry, it has to look good too!”
Product: Patricia Nail Lacquer
Yankee launched her polish line just as Dashing Diva was discontinuing theirs. “Since I was doing runway shows under Dashing Diva for years, the designers naturally contacted me to do the next series of fashion shows. Dashing Diva no longer participated since they no longer had their polish line, so I went in with my line. The first season, one month after I got my product in hand, I did 30 runway shows under my line. I also met the founder of Ricky’s NYC backstage and he agreed to carry my line in his locations,” the NYFW veteran recalls.
“I have to say it’s tough with nail lacquers,” admits Yankee. However, the response she gets from the people who use it and celebrity clients have made for a huge boost in endorsement. “I also have a distributor in the Philippines through a contact I made working with Dashing Diva. My Inspire Nails are my best sellers. The quality is the best and word of mouth from editorial techs and designers at Fashion Week have really helped push this product. I also have international clients who work runway shows that order from me as well.”
Yankee admits she would have liked to have perfected her launch a bit better. But because she was thrown into the launch with the timing, she didn’t have much of a choice. “With nail lacquer there is tons of competition and the packaging needs to make a statement. No matter how great your product is, if it doesn’t have the cool factor then it is difficult to move,” she advises.
“I feel it’s necessary to have an outlet or distribution channel prior to investing; otherwise you have product that you spent money on that sits and doesn’t produce a profit,” she says. As for the rest, it all comes down to patience. “Make sure you have time to wait on a return of your investment. I personally spent my life savings on my line and it had me financially tight for a couple years after. I also say slow and steady. Don’t try to launch a bunch of products at the same time. I believe in starting small and building a good foundation first.”
Product: Cordoza Nail Supply Nail Box
Cordoza’s newest launch is a monthly subscription box. Because it’s subscription based, there were several logistics to work out. “I had to create a subscription platform and integrate that into our web design,” Cordoza says. “That was the most crucial part of the launch as that is how the Nail Box is sold. The next step was figuring out what Nail Boxes would be sold.” She chose to go with a Glitter Box, Nail Bling Box, and an Acrylic Box. Then came branding. Cordoza went with a hot pink mailer. “Pink is my favorite color and I felt like it was a color that you could spot easily and would stand out when the mail was coming!” Because of her relationship with Elegant Glass Nails, Cordoza was able to get Elegant Glass’s backing on filling the boxes. “So far I have used social media for all of my advertising and word of mouth! I offer a free glitter in the next box to anyone who refers a friend,” she says.
A Fun Surprise
Reception for the Nail Box has been warm, due to the popularity of several other beauty subscription boxes. “Nail techs are loving that they can have their nail art shipped to them directly every month without having to shop online or in person. It’s a fun surprise in the mail because they don’t know what will be in their Nail Box,” says Cordoza, who will be including pink mini lollipops in future boxes.
Cordoza holds the interest of her subscribers by sticking to social media, but in addition to that, she says she also tries to base the boxes around a theme. “I try to theme the boxes around what is trending in the nail industry. Occasionally we put items in the boxes that are exclusive to the Nail Box. Some subscribers have loved it so much they have signed up for a 6 month subscription!”
Mary Lennon & Leah Yari
Product: Côte Polish & Treatments
Côte’s product launch (over 100 colors and treatments) was carefully timed to coincide with its shop launch, as Côte polish is the only brand used in the shop for services. “We showcased our entire product line in our gorgeous new location in Los Angeles upon opening. We of course supported all of this with PR efforts and a really fun launch party event where we offered ‘quick côte’ mini-manis,” says Côte’s co-owner, Mary Lennon.
Lennon and Yari saw a need in the market, and used their polish and nail shop to fill it. “We wanted to create the ultimate in clean, safe, and chic nail care, and that started with the polish products and continued all the way through to the services,” Lennon says.
Listening Is Key
For most polish lines, they key to keeping people interested is a new color launch. Côte takes it up a notch. They do color launches several times a year in addition to new product launches and service components, which Lennon and Yari credit to listening to their clients. “Our celebrity and blogger fan base continues to expand, which definitely adds a fun ‘in the spotlight’ component, and our editorial press creates great exposure,” adds Lennon.
Research, Research, Research
When it comes to advice, Lennon and Yari have one word for everyone: “Research.” “Research not only the ingredients and methods that will be going into your own product, but also research existing products and analyze them for their successes or failures. The most rewarding part of this whole process has been seeing our dream develop from scribbles on a notepad to that beautiful bottle of Côte nail color sitting on the shelf.”
On Launching a Product
“It’s hard to launch a product. You can’t expect this to be easy,” says Watson, who has an extensive background working with distributors while she was VP of marketing and sales for Star Nail International. “You have to know your markets, both U.S. and international and there’s a lot of politics,” she cautions. Watson decided on pursuing the international market first to get product moving, then hit the U.S. second.
How Social Media Plays a Role
Watson relied on social networks Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter when it came to making Nailebrity happen. “I took online business classes on network marketing on social media. I learned that even if you don’t have a lot of Facebook friends, you can market to someone who does,” she says. Watson learned from Michelle Williams of Pavé, who was honest in her examination of social media.”Quiet days on social media can eat at your psyche. But the biggest mistake people make is not to stay the course. Push through the beginning when those thoughts eat away at you. Success doesn’t happen overnight,” she says.
Have a Marketing Plan
Watson advises you create your own marketing plan. “Nail professionals know nails, not salespeople,” she says. This is why she makes her educators “sellebrities” who promote her product plus earn a commission from sales. Watson does all the packing and shipping then gives an automatic commission to her sellebrity. Her educators also gain access to a secret Facebook group where they get 100% access to Watson so they can ask questions, view demos, and learn even more about the product and business in general. This type of peer-to-peer (P2P) network marketing is a unique plan that Watson fully invests her own time in.
On Keeping People Interested
“Perception is everything!” says Watson, who likens social media to a pet. “You have to keep feeding your pet. Everything and anything PR-worthy you have to do. Stay quiet, and sales go quiet.” Watson makes it a point to contact press and post out on social media for anything related to Nailebrity in order to remind people that the product is still going strong.
Advice to Other Techs Looking to Launch a Product
“Find someone you can trust,” advises Watson. She recommends using a standard non-disclosure agreement (these can be found online) as an initial first step. Ultimately, it’s ideal to have someone else who knows the industry around to hear you out. “A very low percentage of people are successful. This isn’t something everyone can do. Get a nail friend, someone who has done it before. I want to see people succeed but ultimately it’s up to them. Be willing to be at it 24/7,” she says.
A PR Pro’s Tips for Techs
Nicole Martinez (www.116media.com) has worked with several big players in the nail industry. Here are her tips for launching a product using her public relations expertise.
Social Media vs. PR
“Social media is all about instant gratification, and while one person may ‘like’ your post one day, they may not again for weeks at a time. Your audience on social media fluctuates on any given day. Publicists, on the other hand, have an established network of editors they work with regularly in an effort to establish your brand name among your target audience and garner placement for your products in the press on a continual basis,” says Martinez.
How to Find the Right PR Person for Your Product
First and foremost, choose a publicist who knows the beauty industry. “That’s important because their knowledge and editorial relationships will help drive their pitches for your product,” says Martinez. She also recommends you find the right person who is a fit for you. “If for any reason you don’t click on the initial phone call or meet, move on to the next choice. Make sure the person pitching you a PR plan is the same person who will be pitching editors. It’s often disappointing when you buy into what they are selling only to be passed off to an account team whom you have never met, and who doesn’t know your market or product.” Martinez also cautions against assuming a big NYC firm is best. Smaller agencies can still get the job done if they get the right amount of face time with their clients and travel often. Lastly, she recommends asking for references.
Strategy Is Everything
“Don’t break the bank!” says Martinez. In place of a costly, splashy event, she recommends finding a PR professional who will think outside of the box and offer something more personable to an editor or influencer.
“You have one chance to make a first impression. Make sure your packaging is on-point, that your message is consistent across all platforms, and that your products are available for purchase.”