Skincare products come and go. To survive in a competitive marketplace, a beauty and skincare business needs to offer unique products to consumers willing to pay for good looks. That task falls squarely on the shoulders of Ye-Vetta Wilson-Worst, president and CEO of Jesprit Corp. (www.jesprit.com; 877-588-6457).
Wilson-Worst’s Chesapeake, Virginia-based firm, which she started in 2002, makes Oui Jesprit Shower Oil, a vitamin-rich body oil that includes ceramide, which replenishes the skin. After working for years in pharmaceutical and biotech sales, Wilson-Worst had an epiphany one day while reading a health-oriented magazine. She came up with the idea of creating an oil that people with dry skin could use in the shower.
Wilson-Worst consulted with her father, who is a chemist, about possible product formulations. Going to Thomas Register online, she looked up the names of cosmetic chemists and called a few. “They wanted anywhere from $500 to $30,000 to formulate my product,” recalls Wilson-Worst, who eventually found a manufacturer that worked with startups.
“We set up a meeting, and I brought my ingredient ‘wish list’ — the fragrances, consistency of the oil, and coloration,” says Wilson-Worst. “They wound up helping me through the steps of creating the product from formulation to packaging.”
Since cosmetics are not subject to Federal Drug Administration premarket approval, mandatory establishment registration, or ingredient reporting, Wilson-Worst was ready to introduce her products to the world in 2006. However, most of this year’s focus is on raising $5 million to finance the nationwide launch of her products. Currently, the shower oil sells for $45 per 4-ounce bottle and $60 per 8-ounce bottle. It is sold at upscale spas, resorts, and retail stores.
By 2007, Wilson-Worst anticipates sales of about $3 million for the company, which will soon introduce a men’s line and a new oil-based product to be distributed through dermatologists. She is approaching retailers such as Nordstrom Inc. and Federated Department Stores Inc., as well as catalogers like Soft Surroundings, to carry the products.
Having shepherded many cosmetics businesses through the startup phase, Marva Kalish, a consultant with Marketing Press Consultants in New York and vice chairman of the Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers & Distributors’ board of directors, offers these key
steps to launching a cosmetics business:
Check out the competition: Look around at what’s already available, what customers are buying, and what gaps need to be filled. Know what makes your product different than what’s already on the market.
Develop a marketing angle: Use brochures, the Web, and other vehicles to get the word out. Be sure these materials reflect your product to present a unified brand.
Get your manufacturing in place: Check with groups such as ICMAD (www.icmad.org) and Cosmetic Executive Women (www.cew.org) to find a manufacturer that meets your budget and manufactures a quality product.
Have cash on hand: You’ll need cash flow to support the various stages of production and launch, the latter of which Kalish calls “the most expensive part of starting a cosmetics company.”
wilson-worst is ready to introduce her unique shower oil to the marketplace.