On 17th September, Enterprise Nation hosts the Beauty Exchange, a one-day event connecting small beauty businesses with buyers from large retailers, high-street name entrepreneurs, and beauty press plus bloggers. 

Ahead of time, we ask two of the speakers for their top tips on success in the cosmetics sector.

Karl Thomas 

Karl Thomas was head of Beauty at Boots before going out to do his own thing. He’s now on the look-out for the next big thing.

Q: Have you seen and do you see a growing role for small businesses in the beauty sector? 

A: Yes. Increasingly retailers and consumers want to personalize or tailor their beauty repertoire. Consumers are looking for a more specific solution because their expectations are higher and retailers need the point of difference in their range to keep customers coming back. This point of difference can come from small business suppliers.

Q: What would be your top pitching tip for any small business looking to sell to a large retailer?

A: Remember these buyers are seeing hundreds of brand propositions per year. To be successful you need the full support of the buyer/retailer and to fit the longer term needs and strategy of the retailer. If you don’t know what this is, ask them!

Q: Can you tell us a little about what you're up to at the moment? 

A: Having spent 12 years leading beauty retail & brand strategies I’m doing a number of consulting projects and also on the look out for the right next opportunity ….that business or brand concept that really excites me.

Attend the Beauty Exchange as this brand to excite could be you!

Natalie Clue 

Natalie Clue runs the blog beautypulseLONDON and represents the contemporary, cosmopolitan British Woman of Colour. With an ardent passion for all things beauty, Natalie has garnered many years of experience working within the sector across several functions, for companies such as Estée Lauder, Dermalogica and John Frieda/Kao Brands. She has, in the process, attracted a worldwide following.

We asked for her top tips to succeeding as a beauty business.

  • Understand the consumer and identify new markets - the marketplace is becoming more competitive and the ability to identify niche consumer groups that are underserved will create a competitive advantage for you.
  • Get commercial - the beauty industry is attractive as it perceived as glamorous...and certain aspects of the industry are but success requires commercial acumen. Decisions need to be driven by the head and not solely by the heart. Is the venture financially sustainable? Where will you distribute? Is the market large enough? These are the questions to be asking yourself.
  • Embrace social media - social media is an amazing way to grow and connect with your target market. Create the conversation, communicate with purpose and try to manage your accounts in house as nobody knows your business better than you!

When it comes to Natalie’s own business plan, she replies:

‘I am working on a plan to develop a business to meet the needs of the growing ethnic beauty market! Watch this space!’

To meet Karl and Natalie, register for your place at The Beauty Exchange

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