How to Start a Makeup Line and Build a Cosmetics Business

Did you know that 43% of U.S. consumers with a household income of up to $99,999 use makeup every day? In fact, women in America spend around $3,000 on cosmetics annually. It’s no wonder why the beauty and personal care market had an expected value of more than $93 billion in 2020.

This means there’s a huge opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs to create unique makeup and cosmetic lines that’ll earn a profit. By following our 8 steps, you can create an eCommerce website that’ll let you sell makeup from home and reach customers all over the world.

How to start your own makeup line in 8 simple steps:

  1. Create your online store

  2. Figure out your business structure

  3. Know the laws around selling cosmetics

  4. Get funding

  5. Understand your target audience

  6. Build a brand for your makeup line

  7. Choose a retail strategy

  8. Think of a marketing plan

01. Create your online store

The first step in starting a makeup business is to start your online store. This will be the virtual home for everything related to your new cosmetics company. It’ll be the first point of contact for anyone wanting to buy your makeup.

Choose a website template that’s already configured to boost sales. There are many available inside the Wix template library that can be customized for your own makeup business. Then, pick a domain name that matches your brand name.

Create a product gallery for visitors to scan through your catalog. If you sell a wide variety of products, split them up into categories for each product, such as concealers, mascaras, eyeshadows, etc. You can also add the option for customers to sort and filter your gallery by product, price and style.

Make sure to take high-quality product photos of your own cosmetics and add them to your product pages. Check out how Colour Me Bootiful’s product pages incorporate professional photography, detailed product descriptions and let customers know exactly what they’ll be receiving with their purchase:

Some 60% of US digital shoppers said they needed to see an average of three or four images when shopping online. Clear product shots, alongside images of what your makeup looks like on real people, will encourage visitors to buy your makeup products.

02. Figure out your business structure

Next, think about the structure you want your makeup business to take. You have a couple of options to choose from.

Do you want to create the makeup yourself, or private label another manufacturer's product with your own brand? Creating your own products from scratch means you'd need to find a cosmetologist to work with you on formulating products. You’d be in complete control of your makeup line. This may mean your initial costs will be higher.

Private labeling, however, has a lower barrier to entry and is much cheaper to start. You can find cosmetics already ready to sell, add your own branding and packaging, and sell it as though you made it yourself. Most manufacturers ask you to buy stock in bulk.

You can also integrate your online store with a dropshipping supplier. This will let you add products to your catalog without needing to invest in inventory and storage. Instead, you’ll pass on all orders to the supplier who will fulfill your orders and ship the products to your customers. This method allows you to avoid a lot of the initial costs of setting up a business.

03. Know the laws around selling cosmetics

The beauty industry is regulated by the US Food and Drug Association (FDA). There are restrictions around selling makeup products because of the allergens and fragrances used in them.

Before selling cosmetics on your online store, make sure you’re meeting the FDA’s guidelines on selling and labeling cosmetics, especially if you’re selling in the United States.

04. Get funding

To create quality products from scratch, you need to invest in your makeup company. Securing funding will give you a headstart—be that a loan from family and friends or a line of credit from your bank.

Draft a business plan to show potential investors how you plan to spend the money you raise. This can be anything from product development and customer research to marketing or branding. Not only does it make for a more convincing pitch, but knowing where your dollars will be spent—and the result you’re expecting from that investment—will help make sure it's spent in the most efficient way possible.

05. Understand your target audience

The foundation of any successful makeup business is a deep understanding of your customers. Once you know who your customers are, you can work backwards and craft products, marketing campaigns, and a website that speaks to them.

Take Glossier, for example. Their cosmetics company started after the founder made a beauty blog. She chatted with her audience to find a gap in the market while also building an audience. They’re now a beauty brand worth $1 billion.

Do customer research to figure out your target demographic, and why they would buy a new product like yours. What type of person would want to buy your makeup? What problem are you solving for them?

06. Build a brand around your cosmetics line

The most successful beauty companies have strong branding behind them. You don't need a fanbase as big as Kylie Jenner's to build your own makeup brand. Start by thinking of a business name that means something to you. Tie that into your target audience and the issue you’re solving for them.

One popular naming method is to translate makeup terminology into another language. Stila, who’s first product was an eyeliner pencil, derived their brand name from “stilare”, which means “to pen” in Italian. REN, a skincare company, translates to “clean” in Swedish.

You should also create a logo to help with brand recognition. Upload that logo to your website, social media channels, and to your cosmetics packaging. The more people are exposed to your logo, the more likely they are to remember (and recognize) it.

07. Choose a retail strategy

Where will you sell your first makeup product line? Big-name retailers like Sephora and Morphe are stocked with popular makeup brands. It's not always possible to pitch your products to their buying managers and secure an order.

It's smart to build an eCommerce website and use that to generate orders. You could fulfill them yourself, or find a distributor to fulfill and ship orders made through your online store. They’ll take a cut of your sales as their fee, but having a distributor takes the stress out of fulfilling orders alongside other plates you’re spinning (including sourcing products, marketing, and customer service). You don’t have to have all of your stock taking up a spare bedroom. You could also use marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon to sell cosmetic products.

Get to grips with SEO basics, like optimizing product descriptions for your listings, to boost your chances of reaching the millions of potential customers using those platforms to buy makeup.

08. Think of a marketing plan

Once you get your website up and running, how will people find out about your makeup line?

YouTube is a great option for cosmetics companies. In 2018, beauty-related content generated more than 169 billion views on the platform. Among the most popular formats are reviews, tutorials, and DIY videos.

Social media platforms like Instagram also have tons of influencers promoting beauty products. Think about how you can use them to promote your own makeup line. Some examples include:

  • Commenting on posts shared by makeup artists

  • Sending your products to influencers in return for a shoutout

  • Using hashtags like #makeup to reach people who don’t already follow your account, or creating your own like #lataucosmetics:

Finally, think about special flash sales and promotions you could run to get social media followers buying your makeup products. Natalie Unn Cosmetics does this by promoting flash Valentines Day deals on Instagram:

The most successful makeup marketing strategies are tailored to the ideal customer. So, go back to your customer research and discover which platforms your target customers are using. Create profiles on those networks, and use these strategies to position your makeup products in front of them.

Ready to start your own business? Create your eCommerce website today.

Elise Dopson

eCommerce Blogger

Elise Dopson is a writer for B2B SaaS companies. Find her on Twitter @elisedopson.

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