Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How To Start Your Own Cosmetics Business

Maureen Kelly Story


Projected 2006 Sales: $15 million

Maureen Kelly was working toward a Ph.D. in psychology when one of her pet peeves inspired an entrepreneurial endeavor. Each time she visited makeup counters in search of the right products, the makeup artists selling the makeup would leave Kelly looking beautiful, but also poorer and entirely incapable of recreating the look.

Feeling that the beauty industry was in need of a reality check, she set out to launch a line of simple and easy-to-use cosmetics in equally stylish and portable packaging for real women, who lack the time and expertise to spend hours primping.

The end result? Kelly dropped out of the Ph.D. program and launched Tarte Cosmetics in 1999 from her one-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment in New York City.

Entering an industry with no experience proved to be just the edge she needed. “If you come into an industry when you don’t have a lot of experience, you have more of a fresh perspective and you can think a little bit more outside the box,” says Kelly, who wraps Tarte compacts in leathers and fabrics. “You’re not bound by the typical tenets of what you can and cannot do.”

She scouted out laboratories and chemists to work with, relied on previous interior design experience for packaging ideas, and learned through trial and error how to market and sell her line.

She didn’t advertise, but after countless phone calls and careful selection of the right exposure, Tarte Cosmetics soon graced the pages of numerous fashion and women’s magazines and landed on the shelves of retailers such as Henri Bendel, Nordstrom and Sephora. In 2005, popular shopping network QVC offered Kelly the opportunity to officially launch her line in homes across America. The first hour-long segment resulted in the sale of more than 13,600 items and translated into an 8.5 percent increase in the company’s annual sales from 2004 to 2005.

Tarte Cosmetics has turned heads in the U.S. and Canada and will be hitting Europe next year, but Kelly believes slow and strategic growth is key. “You see companies that grow so quickly, and they’re here today and gone tomorrow,” she says. “I wanted to make sure I did the opposite of that.”

Natural Beauty Basics : Create Your Own Cosmetics and Body Care Products