It’s time you brought your ideas to life! If you have been daydreaming about starting your own collection or even if you have already begun and you’re feeling a little stuck, don’t worry, you’ve got this—and we’ve got you. We teamed up with Jenna Westerlund, Vice President of Merchandising at Ulta Beauty Private Label to give you a few tips and tricks to help you start your own beauty line.
Jenna is an expert when it comes to taking a great idea from concept to formulation and then to what we as shoppers see on the shelves in the store. Her and her team are responsible for products and programs for Ulta Beauty Collection, their private label brand that spans multiple categories including Cosmetics, Bath, Skin, Sun and Nail.
Looking for more inspiration? You just have to see Season 2 of Girls United: Beautiful Possibilities. This series features six young Black women creating their own beauty collection that will launch in Ulta Beauty stores. Click here to check it out and get some more tips to help you with your own beauty business!
How does it work?
Before we dive into her advice for beauty entrepreneurs, we first asked how the whole process works. “We are always keeping a pulse of trends, guest insights and industry innovations to develop product concepts,” Jenna explains. “From there, we move into the development cycle where we work with our lab partners to get formulations, shades and scents just right.” Her team then develops packaging, design and finishing product details in tandem. And finally, while the products are in production, they work on in-store and online launch components including visuals, consumer education, advertising and marketing support across print, digital and social channels.
Collaboration is the key.
“Each and every step in the process is critical to us,” Jenna says. “We believe the collaborative effort is what’s most critical to bringing a new product to market that not only works within the brand but also speaks to our guests’ needs.” She goes on to say that it is an exciting process and that it’s her passion for beauty and the Ulta Beauty guests that continue to drive her forward. When a product is successful, “they are the ones that have heart built into them along the journey,” says Jenna.
Meet a few mentors.
When you are first starting out, Jenna says you have to “find mentors and I mean that in plural!” Often times we gravitate towards mentors who are similar to us, which is not necessarily a bad thing as they can help share in struggles or shed perspective in ways that feel more in your comfort zone. But mentors who have strengths in areas we don’t can help you develop your skills or round out areas that are underdeveloped. “Always learning from those around you is a key to success and acknowledging where you are limited in knowledge or experience can really help break through to the next level,” she says.
Be true to you.
Jenna also places importance on being true to your brand. When your passion is authentic, others can sense it—they can feel your excitement and your determination. “How you represent yourself in each interaction is extremely important,” says Jenna. So, for example, if you are creating an organic, sustainable beauty brand, you also need to walk the walk—that doesn’t mean you literally walk around in Birkenstocks (even though they are cute) but it does mean you may want to swap your leather jacket for a faux alternative.
Nurture your relationships.
“People say relationships are everything, and they can be, but how you show up in them is the part that makes or breaks things,” says Jenna. Don’t think you need to act a certain way, just let your kindness show to everyone along the way. “Build relationships,” advises Jenna. “Industries can be small and you never know when paths will cross again with someone who you may want or need in your corner.”