In the early ’80s, Rosie Herman began work as a nail tech, then as a salon owner. But in 1987, she left the salon world behind to stay at home to care for twin girls. In need of extra spending money, Herman combined her manicure expertise with her love of cooking and created a unique scrub recipe, originally called “Mommy’s Magic.” Today called One Minute Manicure, the Houston-based endeavor has grown into a multi-million dollar business. Her product line now includes skin and body scrubs, exfoliating body sponges, cuticle oil and balm, bath salts, and lip balm.
NAILS asked Herman to give us a glimpse into the nitty-gritty details of growing a beauty business from scratch.
When you made the leap from blending a homemade scrub in your kitchen to large-scale production, what changes did you have to make in terms of your thinking and in terms of product formulation?
Herman: Honest and realistic thinking on what we could afford was our number-one issue. We needed to capitalize on our growth and took out “micro loans” with family and close friends. This gave us the ability to purchase raw materials with volume discounts based on our projections. The key was not to overbuy. We simply went realistically month by month. As the orders began to grow, we were then able to balance cash flow and make purchases including used equipment. (Who needs brand new?)
Product formulation was easy. I love to cook! In my mind now instead of cooking a recipe for just my family, I simply started to convert my recipe (the formula) to accommodate cooking for an army. I tried incrementally larger and larger batches until I was certain that my formula was correct
What are a few key things you’ve learned about product formulation as you’ve expanded your line?
Herman: You must put your product through a testing stage and make sure it is something that will sell. I used craft shows and other local shows to see if it would sell first. I also took proceeds from these shows to help purchase more inventory. The key is not to spend it on things you don’t really need. Non-essentials can come later after the business grows.
How do you come up with new product ideas and new scents? What is your biggest seller?
Herman: I look for fragrances that will appeal to everyone. I use family and friends to sample new ideas because I can trust their honesty and opinions. Our biggest seller is the One Minute Manicure Hand Foot and Body Scrub because it works instantly and you see results immediately.
You were lucky enough to be featured in a 2004 story in O The Oprah Magazine about beauty entrepreneurs. Since we can’t all expect to come to Oprah’s attention, what do you think is the most effective marketing strategy?
Herman: We used our guerilla tactics. With no advertising budget, we used small but effective techniques to create awareness of our products including word of mouth and random sample giveaways to local women’s groups. Networking always works if done respectfully.
Do you have any other advice for would-be beauty entrepreneurs?
Herman: Go into business knowing that there will be ups and downs, failures and successes. Have your vision etched into your mind and never take no for an answer. Above all, have something to sell that you know works and that people have a need for. You won’t have to force your goods on people if they can see that your products work.
If you were just starting a similar business today, do you think it would be easier or harder to do?
Herman: I think similar challenges exist, but perhaps with greater opportunities for growth if done correctly. On the flip side there is greater competition. Today there are almost endless sources and resources with the Internet.
Do you ever miss doing nails or owning a salon?
Herman: I still do nails in my conference room. I have a customer whose nails I’ve been doing for 25 years. She has problem nails and there is no one I can trust. Plus it keeps me in the practice!
For more information, go to www.oneminutemanicure.com.