Bee Beauty occupies a popular niche in the beauty and personal care marketplace. As more bee conservation initiatives get underway worldwide, more bee-sourced ingredients and bee beauty products are showing up in the industry. Waxing Kara isn’t the first indie brand to champion bee beauty, but it’s a business that takes bee conservation at the grassroots level quite seriously.
Here, entrepreneur Kara Brook Brown shares a profile of herself and the Waxing Kara brand.
Name: Kara Brook Brown, Creative Director
Indie Beauty Company: Waxing Kara
Launched: November 2012
Headquarters: Owings Mills, Maryland
Cash flow: Waxing Kara is 100% funded by me. For the first few years we doubled billings each year. This happened organically. In the last couple of years, the growth has been slower. I knew when I started out this was going to be more about passion than profit.
Indie how? To me a beauty brand is independent if it is born out of a passion for a cause. In my case, my cause is bees.
Team work: 3 full-time employees, 2 part-time, and 3 contractors (beekeeping help, technology help, marketing help)
Distribution: At Waxing Kara, we sell within the United States through our web site (waxingkara.com). We offer consumer direct and wholesale sales. And, we have been sold in over 400 stores including spas and resorts across the US over the years.
Years in beauty: just about 7
Years at Waxing Kara: just about 7
Entrepreneurial experience: When I was in college (Maryland Institute College of Art), I started an ad agency and pitched retail stores where I wanted to shop as a means to fund my education. When I graduated, I saw growing the business as an opportunity to be responsible for myself. It took many years, and I changed what I did, how I did it and who I did it for ten times before I landed the first substantial client that would change my future and enable me to build a multi-million-dollar business. Over a 20-year period, that company became Brook Group and we designed interfaces for web sites and software. We created web content management software and we did internet marketing projects. We worked for AOL in their heyday and for the federal government, including the Justice Department, Energy Department, and the White House.
The business: Waxing Kara is a Bee Inspired brand. We are beekeepers and we create products from the hive. The beauty line contains ingredients that would not be available if it weren’t for the honeybee. Ingredients like honey, beeswax, coffee, berries, tea, walnuts, coconut, and so much more. The goal is simple: keep beauty as close to nature as possible.
The wow-factor: At our core, we are a cause-based business with a mission to help the honeybee. We are different than most honey brands and may be the only apiary to have devoted 40 acres of land to grow bee food. We do not grow a crop that can be harvested and sold. Instead, we’ve created a wonderland for all winged creatures. When our customers support us, they are supporting bees and they are helping us tell our story. That’s what makes us different and adds value to our customer.
The consumer: Mindful moms and their daughters.
Milestone moment: My first foray into wholesale was with Anthropologie. I didn’t have a line sheet. I hadn’t put any thought into wholesale at that time. I didn’t have employees. I had assumed that I would just sell direct to the consumer. It was a very good experience for me, a lot of very important lessons were learned.
Advice for fellow beauty entrepreneurs: Spend time understanding compliance before you jump into this business. In order to be compliant, there are a great many systems that have to be put into place and if you are not system-oriented, it may not be the right fit for you. As much as you enjoy making (makers gotta make) the maker also has to be compliant—and it’s important to know what that means.
Just yesterday, an old friend called me to share all good news about his candle business and asked me to take a look at his catalog. I did and the first thing that stood out to me was a citronella candle he was selling into a big brand name. I asked him if the label had the appropriate required wording…
Just one: Asked about her go-to product, Brown say, I really love our Waxing Kara facial oil. I miss it if I forget to bring it with me in my travels. And I really love Chantecaille tinted sunscreen and use it every day winter or summer.
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.