The global cosmetics market is expected to reach a value of over $805 billion by 2023. With potential consumers in all age groups – teens to women in their 40s and beyond – the opportunities for startups to make an impact in the beauty industry are endless, but competition is fierce. In order to stand out among a litany of startups and well-established legacy brands alike, cosmetic companies must offer a unique product to entice consumers. These four female founders are making waves in the beauty industry for their innovative take on classic products.
1. Vertly Balm by Claudia Mata
Lip balm has been a purse staple for women since its invention in the 1880s. Over 100 years later in 2017, Claudia Mata decided to give lip balm a facelift. Mata, a former fashion editor, founded Vertly Balm to give consumers high-end lip balm and skin care options with a twist: CBD-infusion. CBD oil, known for its calming properties, helps to soothe and reduce tension in the body – making Vertly Balm a very 21st-century solution to an age-old problem.
After moving from NYC to Northern California, Mata become interested in learning more about cannabis and its healing benefits. Her editor friends back in New York agreed that the concept for a clean beauty CBD line sounded interesting. She went to work creating formulas, and her lab operations are now double the size – but Mata takes pride that the company still handcrafts its products.
2. Beautiac by Drea Gunness Groeschel
Dirty makeup brushes can wreak havoc on the skin but are time-consuming to clean. Even when cleaned properly, bacteria can still remain. Drea Gunness Groeschel, a serial entrepreneur with a knack for optimization, founded Beautiac to help women ditch dirty makeup brushes without the hassle of cleaning them. Her subscription-based model sends new brush heads monthly, earning Beautiac the nickname “Dollar Shave Club of Beauty.” Furthermore, Gunness Groeschel’s brush heads are also fully recyclable, meaning Beautiac is not only good for the skin but good for the planet, too.
Gunness Groeschel is based in Nashville, TN, where the startup scene is growing quickly. Her ties in the community include partnering with organizations like the 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival and taking part in city-wide activations like the CMA Festival, one of the largest country music festivals, where her company hosted songwriters events.
3. Mented Cosmetics by KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson
Legacy makeup brands have often come under fire for lack of diversity and inclusivity, both in models and product shades. The founders of Mented Cosmetics, KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson, were frustrated that it was so hard to find the perfect nude lipstick – so they did something to make a difference. The cosmetics brand caters to women of color and offers a wide variety of shades. Miller and Johnson took a crash course to understand the science behind makeup in order to launch the innovative formulas, offering the perfect pigments and shades to previously underrepresented shoppers.
Miller and Johnson had purchase supplies like molds, dyes, colorings, and waxes, and then had to teach themselves the manufacturing process in order to create the first test round of lipsticks. Before starting Mented Cosmetics, Miller was a Harvard Business School graduate and retail consultant, and Johnson, also a Harvard Business School grad, worked at Goldman Sachs and Time Inc.
4. Beauty Pie by Marcia Kilgore
Luxury beauty products are expensive, but not necessarily because the ingredients or manufacturing process costs more. When Marcia Kilgore, the founder of Beauty Pie, saw that prestige brands were selling their products for ten times more than what it cost to make them, she knew she needed to advocate for consumers. She created the company as a membership club to give average consumers access to products made in the same labs as expensive brands – but without the inflated mark-up. By doing so, Beauty Pie makes cosmetics more affordable without sacrificing quality.
In addition to Beauty Pie, Kilgore has launched five companies total in the past two decades. In 1999, LVMH bought a reported $30 million stake in her spa line Bliss, and she sold Soap & Glory to British retailer Boots for a rumored $50 million in 2014.
These trailblazers are leading the way in the beauty industry – who’s next to join them?
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