Indie Beauty Profile

Michelle Houp, Prep U

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Indie Beauty Profile Michelle Houp Prep U

Related tags Personal care Entrepreneurship

In her Indie Beauty Profile, Michelle Houp, founder of Prep U (personal care brand for “stinky boys”), describes how she has democratized the onus of hygiene and refinement that befalls adolescents; and, she shares a few smart, simple tips for founders.

It’s common enough to see personal care and beauty brands formulated and marketed for preteens, tweens, and teens that are made for girls, that are meant to introduce younger consumers to the basics of beauty and the importance of daily skin care.

By contrast, Prep U was developed, formulated, and packaged for boys. So, besides being a straightforward personal care line for teens, Prep U may also serve as a consumer education tool and eventually help nudge the men’s skin care category forward.

Here the entrepreneur behind the brand shares a profile of herself and of Prep U.

Name: ​Michelle Houp, Founder and CEO

Indie Beauty Company: ​Prep U

Launched: ​March 2017

Headquarters: ​Austin, Texas

Brand building: ​It has been a year of firsts, as would be expected. First sale, first big order, first national media placement, first promotional success. Every milestone reached pushes the bar higher.

Team work: ​1 full-time employee, and 1 part-time

Distribution: ​Currently, consumers buy Prep U through our own ecommerce website – We are also working on launching on 

Years in beauty / personal care: ​<1

Years at Prep U: ​<1

Entrepreneurial experience: ​Prep U is the second company I’ve founded. In addition to Prep, I am also the CEO of Creative Tonic, a brand innovation firm in Austin, Texas, that I founded in 2009.

The business: ​The idea for Prep U came from my struggles as a mother of two smelly sons (aren’t they all) trying to find an age appropriate answer for how to get them clean. Surely if I was frustrated by the lack of personal care options for my sons, other parents of young boys were facing a similar predicament.

Created specifically to solve this challenge of stinky boys, our products are designed not only to offer a natural, effective way to deal with the stinks and sweats of boyhood, but also to foster independence and confidence as boys begin to develop their personal care routines and rituals.

The wow-factor: ​We are taking on the all-day stinks and big-league sweats of the active boy and empowering boys with age-appropriate products and messaging to guide them through the transitional years between toddler and teen.

The customer: ​Parents, predominantly moms, are the primary purchaser in households. They’re looking for safe products and are willing to pay a premium. These are the parents that built the organic baby brands and now looking to buy similar products for their growing boys. 

Boys ages 8-15 will be the primary influencer. Because in order for mom or dad to buy it again, they have to use it. This means that the packaging has to speak to these boys and be something they feel confident using or talking about in front of their friends.

Milestone moment: ​The response from people to the brand and product has been phenomenal. We were recently featured on​, which was a great moment for us as we start pushing toward a national presence. Every day I am energized by what we accomplish from an awareness standpoint. 

That said, the moments I am most proud of are the notes and feedback we see from parents who have given the product to their boys. Hearing things like ‘I don’t have to tell him to use that product, he just does’ or ‘My son loves that there is something for him’ lets us know that we are on the right track and adding something valuable to the market. 

Advice for fellow indie beauty entrepreneurs: ​Start small. Stay simple. Fail fast, fail cheap. Be passionate about what you are building. In today’s age folks are acutely aware of your brand’s authenticity.

Just one: ​Asked about her desert-island beauty must-haves, Houp says it’s her AmorePacific skin care regimen.



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

Related topics Brand Innovation Skin Care Packaging

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