How To: a collection of advice for indie beauty brand leaders

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

©  Getty Images \ (jacoblund)
© Getty Images \ (jacoblund)

Related tags Indie beauty Entrepreneurship start-ups Leadership

Over the years, Cosmetics Design has covered numerous events on the independent beauty movement. Here is a selection of guidance for startups from insiders and experts who have spoken at those events as well as a few notes from the Cosmetics Design editorial team too.

How consumers discover a brand, what the brand says to them and how it's said should be particular to that brand. At a 2015 event hosted by CEW, indie brand leaders from Nudestix, Skin Inc., and Tula spoke about their distinctive consumer awareness, education, and communication strategies.

Tula​, one of the first brands to bring probiotic topical skin care to the US market, focused on consumer education with placement on video commerce platform QVC. Skin Inc.​ built Apple-style genius bars where shoppers could discover the brand’s customized serums. While the millennial makeup brand Nudestix​ focused heavily on social media for both internal and external communications. Read more about how Tula, Skin Inc., and Nudestix get in front of the customer, here on

Strategic growth

In January 2016, CEW brought together a panel of experts—a brand leader, an investment banker, and a trend forecaster—to discuss when and how indie beauty brands attract the attention of investors and strategics.

Elana Drell Szyfer, then CEO of Laura Geller New York, spoke about how that brand set its business up “to make the leap from being an indie innovator to being a prime acquisition target,” ​as reported. Indeed, in late 2017 Glanasol acquired the Laura Geller brand​.

Maxwell Luthy of Trend Watching shared insight into how consumer expectations and behaviors move from one industry segment into the mainstream. And Kelly Mc Philliamy (now with Harris Williams) covered how product innovation, technology, and founder creativity all drive indie beauty. Read more about how independent beauty brands attract investors here on

Standing out

This summer Anne-Marie Kline, former CMO of Living Proof, spoke at ICMAD’s Indie Beauty Innovators Awards event in Las Vegas, Nevada. What she told the room of winning and nominated brand founders were her top 5 tips for building a business that can compete in the very crowded cosmetics and personal care marketplace.  

She highlighted the leadership and communication strategies of Vicky Tsai of Tatcha and Tiffany Masterson of Drunk Elephant, emphasizing that “authentic communication and community management” ​is very much “an advantage for founder-led brands.” Read more indie brand building advice from Anne-Marie Kline here on

Entrepreneurs insights

Just last month here in New York City, the entrepreneurship community Stacklist hosted a panel for aspiring and current indie brand founders. Mariya Nurislamova of Scentbird, Pricilla Tsai of Cocokind, Paul Michaux of Prose, and Meghan Maupin of Atolla all spoke on the panel and shared their insights on retail and D2C strategy, finding the right product formulation partner, consumer acquisition and retention, building a data-driven beauty brand, and more. Read 10 top tips for building a beauty startup here on

An editor’s notes

Late this summer The Eco Well podcast​ (which focuses on green beauty and cosmetic chemistry) kicked off season 3 with an episode all about indie beauty and how startup brands “can find the path to success in today’s crowded and competitive cosmetics and personal care industry,” ​as reported.

In the episode, Jen Novakovich, host of The Eco Well podcast speaks with Cosmetics Design editor Deanna Utroske about the importance of networks, communication, product differentiation and more. Read more about the indie beauty episode of The Eco Well podcast here on​ and listen to the full episode here​.



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.

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