Many an indie beauty brand has launched based on nothing more than personal experience and intuition. Michelle Tu’s intuition is decidedly different; it is backed by academic research and sets her skin care brand in good stead when it comes to comes to competing in the modern beauty marketplace where legacy brands are doubling down on content and messaging about safety and the relevancy of science.
Here, the beauty entrepreneur shares a profile of herself and her brand.
Name: Michelle Tu, Founder and CEO
Indie Beauty Company: CURA Skincare
Launched: September 2015
Headquarters: San Mateo, California
Cash flow: Sales have grown modestly each year, however, there’s been a substantial increase in sales and retail partnerships since I’ve started working on the company fulltime in the Summer of 2017.
Team work: 1 full-time employee
Distribution: CURA Skincare products are sold through our own ecommerce site curaskincare.com and other online retail partners, including Amazon, AskDerm, Musely, and Beni Beauty.
Years in beauty: 0 – before starting CURA
Years at CURA Skincare: less than 3
Entrepreneurial experience: CURA Skincare is my first venture as an entrepreneur. Before that, I was a grad student studying how calcium jumpstarts regeneration; and I knew that I wanted to use my research for something greater. I ultimately decided that I was going to start a skincare company and develop calcium-based products that everyone can benefit from.
The business: CURA is based on my PhD research and is a results-driven, science-backed skincare line that focuses on the key skin benefits of [the] miracle mineral calcium: renewal, hydration, and protection.
The wow-factor: CURA is the only skincare company to specifically focus on calcium and its essential role in skin health. Calcium is necessary for virtually every function of the body, including skin [function]. It enables skin cells to regenerate, helps keep the skin barrier hydrated, and also protects from sun damage.
The customer: Our target consumer is a woman between the ages of 25-40 who makes $100K or more and cares deeply about beauty and wellness. Skincare is her greatest concern and supersedes other aspects of her beauty routine. She wants to look beautiful with or without makeup on and recognizes that begins with great skin.
Milestone moment: Being able to develop and successfully launch two products while bootstrapping my company has been a remarkable milestone for me.
The recent recognition and interest we’ve been receiving from retailers, press, and influencers without having to hire a PR agency, have been extremely gratifying. CURA is a one-woman operated indie brand, so any amount of recognition and positive feedback feels like a huge achievement.
Advice for fellow indie beauty entrepreneurs: Use, build, and leverage your network as much as you possibly can! It’s a small world and the opportunities to meet people who can help you grow your brand are limitless.
Just one: Asked about her go-to product, Tu says, I’m pretty obsessed with CURA’s Bright & Balanced Facial Cleanser. I wear makeup fairly often and I love how clean, soft, and supple my face feels after using it!
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com 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.