Skincare for beginners – Birthing a Brand
After being in the business of cosmetic formulating, brand building and product development for just shy of 20 years I do know a thing or two about how it all works. I can tell you know that it isn’t all about sexy packaging, Insta-magic and miracle cures, this industry is bloody hard work, relentless and to be taken seriously.
I’ve been focusing on the new end of town over the last month (hence no blog posts) as I re-wrote and delivered the first of a new range of workshops on the subject. Deciding what to put in and what to leave out has been the hardest challenge for me as I also teach the advanced courses and as a consequence knowing where to draw the (information) line has been my biggest problem, not least because these days people do think they know a lot more than they actually do because of our good old friend Google.
Google-Goggles Give you Confidence.
What I have found, especially over the last five years or so is a rise in the number of people who come to a workshop already feeling like they know how this industry thing works. This is not surprising given the number of industry insiders (me included) visible and approachable on the internet. Plus now you can get qualified online, talk detail with people in cosmetic interest groups and generally turn up to your first hands-on play time fully briefed and qualified as a cosmetic chemist – qualified before you’ve ever set foot in a cosmetic factory or even met someone (face-to-face) that does this for a living.
But it isn’t until theory meets practice that things start to get real.
My instincts tell me that the people turning up with dreams of being the next big brand need to know the nitty-gritty and need to know it FAST. The instant gratification of an uncomplicated answer is not my job to give. This shit is about to get serious – especially if you are about to plough a significant chunk of your life savings, time and energy into it.
The doom merchant.
So I’m sitting here contemplating whether my workshop participants should be introduced to me as ‘Amanda, Mistress of DOOM’…….. Sure I’ll give them some handy tips and hints of how to customise a base formula, select actives and develop a good story but I’m also going to tell them that natural ingredients can still be irritating, yes you all need to use preservatives and no there are none that sound wonderfully natural that work in all situations and cost less than an arm and a leg. And while we are at it I’ll make sure that everyone knows who is responsible for the safety of their product (them) and that a safe product doesn’t just begin and end with unpronounceable ingredients. I’ll tell them that they need to keep a close eye on their budget and that some product ideas and ingredient philosophies haven’t been done before because they are either illegal or un-viable.
Yes I’ll tell them all of that.
But I’ll also tell them that cosmetic science isn’t just about science, numbers, scalability, responsibility and detail. It is also about creative expression, people and art.
A silver lining?
While I know that for some people this approach will be too much, what I hope is that for those that are serious it will be inspiring. We are all grown ups here and as fancy and glamorous as the cosmetic industry looks from the outside, on the inside it is still a business and business has rules and responsibility.
But we still have to play.
And that’s why I’ve made sure these beginners workshops are still jam-packed with lovely recipes to try to enjoy! That we have some space during the day to talk to each other, share ideas, think up questions and get some answers.
Giving birth to a brand is no different to giving birth to a baby. There’s pain, discomfort, realisation, stress and confusion but there is also immense joy, love and pride – hopefully that will last my students a lifetime.
So let’s do this thing.