Essence Beauty joined the beauty talk with panelists Melissa Butler and Beatrice Dixon, moderated by Dorian Morris, to discuss building a beauty brand on the BeautyCon™ stage. We sat down with leading women in beauty and wellness for a real conversation on business challenges, standing out in a saturated market, and building a beauty community that lasts. Entrepreneurs in the audience could learn about the ins and outs of retail, hiring a team, and all the difficulty—and success—in between.
Founder of The Lip Bar and Thread Beauty, Butler formulated her first beauty brand in the kitchen. She built her business from the ground up, with The Lip Bar as the largest Black owned makeup brand in Target. For Dixon, Founder of Honey Pot, her wellness brand for vaginal care started to treat a Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) infections. The brands signature tagline, “made by humans with vaginas for humans with vaginas,” Honey Pot is the first plant-derived vaginal care system on the market. While building a beauty brand isn’t easy, The New Voices Family had a open discussion on building a beauty business—here’s what they said.
“Retail can kill a business,” said Morris. As the Founder of Undefined Beauty, Morris asked for tips on how to prepare your business for retail. “You should have at least made half a million to a million dollars before you go into retail,” Dixon said. “Retail continues to get harder and harder.”
Retail is extremely important, however it is increasingly difficult to be successful on the shelves. For Dixon, she was uninformed about the market when her vaginal products went into retail. “You need to understand how to manage a supply chain,” she said. “You could have a million dollar purchase and only get paid $100,000 if the order was late, not on time, or in full.”
Butler recommended not allowing contracts to be intimidating, as they can be resolved through familiarity with legal terminology. “You have power to negotiate on your own terms,” she said. “You have the responsibility for yourself, customer, and team to make the right decisions for your business.” According to Butler, placing your business on the shelf is only half the battle; the real challenge lies in consistently moving products.
The conversation shifted into other business needs such as ads and other needs in a saturated market. Butler shared she has never had a marketing budget, but used social media as the fastest and easiest method to make people care about her business. “We were just educating the public on why we exist and why they should care,” she said. “PR has been huge for The Lip Bar’s success to tell a connected service to the right community.”
On social media, a business’s success lies in cultivating an organic following. Rather than solely relying on purchased ads, the panelists recommended fostering a customer base that doesn’t need to be acquired. This can be achieved through events such as Essence Fest and trade shows, where staying connected to the community and targeting your customer as a fellow individual, not just a consumer, can bring success. “Creating innovation that tells a story and makes sense makes it easy for humans to use your products,” Dixon said. “You are the human being that you’re serving.”
Visit BeautyCon™ the Essence Fest edition at essence.com for more on the latest Black beauty panel.