Indie Beauty Profile

Deborah Hernan, Ottilie & Lulu

By …as told to Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Indie Beauty Profile Deborah Hernan Ottilie & Lulu
In her Indie Beauty Profile, Deborah Hernan, president of Ottilie & Lulu, talks about finding opportunity in the challenges of a shifting retail market and reflects on just how rewarding entrepreneurship can be.

Today there are countless natural skin care brands on the market, but natural skin care brands for tween and teen girls are few and far between. This is curious given that much of the research on the endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonly used in conventional product formulations shows these ingredients affect young people more adversely than adults. This is the market niche that indie skin care brand Ottilie & Lulu fills.

Here, beauty entrepreneur Deborah Hernan shares a profile of herself and the brand.

Name:​ Deborah Hernan, President and Owner                

Indie Beauty Company:​ 714Essentials LTD, dba Ottilie & Lulu

Launched:​ February 2008

Headquarters:​ New York, New York

Cash flow: ​under $1m revenue. And it’s worth noting that after losing our major distribution outlets (FAO Schwartz in 2014, and Toys R Us, 2015), we revised our distribution strategy and remain a viable and profitable skin care company catering to a niche in the marketplace.

Team work: ​1 full-time employee, and Ottilie & Lulu uses contract fulfillment and consultants as needed

Distribution: ​Ottilie & Lulu products are distributed via our company web site: ottilieandlulu.com. We also have select distribution in small apothecaries and some independent drug stores in the Northeast and California.

Years in beauty: ​19

Years at Ottilie & Lulu: ​8

Entrepreneurial experience: ​Ottilie & Lulu is my first company. While at times it was very difficult, it has been an amazing experience. I have met some really wonderful, smart people, and, yes, I would do it again.

The business:​ Ottilie & Lulu is a natural skin care company. We focus on skin care, not color. Our short line of products was created for girls to help build their beauty hygiene habits and to provide them with safe, effective products. Our goal was not to provide girls with a lot of beauty products; instead, we provide girls with the products they need for good, clean, healthy, and therefore, beautiful skin, naturally.

The wow-factor:​ Ottilie & Lulu products are made with natural ingredients. No parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfates, petrochemicals, PEGs or dyes. No synthetic fragrances. Ottilie & Lulu products are non-comedogenic, nut free, and dermatologist and allergy tested.

The customer: ​Our target is girls, ages 7-15; too old for baby products, with skin too sensitive for harsh teen products, and too young for the heavy moisturizing and exfoliating-type ingredients found in adult (their moms’) products.

Milestone moment:​ I’ll share two:60% of our online customers are repeat customers; 50% of our repeat customers have purchased from us more than twice. And, we are the #1 product for tween skin care on google. (We are also #1 in 14 other skin care search terms).

Advice for fellow indie beauty entrepreneurs:​ Build your brand the way you want it to be and know what is important to your customer. Traditional retail models are not the only way to build a business. The beauty business is vast, and you can carve a niche if you give your customers great quality and demonstrate your relevance.

Just one: ​Ottilie & Lulu Clean Skin Face Wipes are our go-to product. They are all natural, gentle and can be used multiple times a day to keep skin oil and dirt free. Our product is alcohol free and the wipe is 100% cotton. Drop in a backpack, your purse, gym bag, locker, anywhere you like to be able to refresh.

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