The survey found that the majority of entrepreneurs who are successful today started with little financial resources and experience. In fact, 44% of retail business owners said they started their companies with less than $5,000. Even more surprising, nearly all (94%) started their company with less than $50,000. Forty-one percent of respondents also started a business in an industry that was new to them and 42% of business owners started or took over their company before the age of 35, according to Kabbage.
A successful indie beauty brand is able to bring true innovation to market. According to Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors (ICMAD) President Dr. Ken Marenus, the industry is oversaturated with personal care brands, many falling into the category of “me too.”
“With the huge volume of companies launching new products all the time, it becomes a sea of sameness and they all start blending together,” Marenus told Happi in an interview. “Indie beauty brands that are focused on disruptive innovation with efficacious products that deliver for the consumer are the most equipped to succeed in the future. It’s about doing something different or better than what’s been done before.”
He suggested taking a successful technology, putting it in a new form and presenting it with quality and elegance so that it stands above the fray. Additionally, successful indie brands must have a vision for sustainable innovation and avoid falling into the category of “one hit wonders,” added Marenus.
“Tossing CBD into a product doesn’t make it innovative. A new box is not innovative. Something off the shelf of a third-party manufacturer is not innovative,” he insisted. “However, a new use form could be innovative. Disruptive innovation is focused on something that represents a real advance and also includes the novel approach of how you story tell and market that new innovation.”
Here’s a look at some of the rising indie beauty brands.
Petite ’n Pretty
Year Founded: 2018
Petite ‘n Pretty is a beauty brand on a mission to empower young creatives to explore, express and embrace individuality with products developed just for them. With high-quality ingredients, age-appropriate shades and tools designed for growing features, the brand sparks imagination and encourages the next generation to redefine pretty.
Names to Know: Samantha Cutler, founder
Major Products: My Stellar Micellar Make Up remover, Cloud Mine Rollerball, Glo$$ Balm Glossy Lip Balm
Hero Products: Petite ’n Pretty Eye and Cheek Palettes, 9021-Glow
New Product: Fully Feathered Volumizing Mascara
Find It: Ulta Beauty
Backstory: Samantha Cutler is the founder of Petite ‘n Pretty, a Beverly Hills-based prestige beauty brand for young creatives. With 15 years of experience developing prestige beauty products, Cutler is no stranger to innovating and launching new concepts, having formulated some of the industry’s favorite cult products for brands including MAC, Smashbox and Stila. However, it wasn’t until she became a mother that her journey into creating a new, essential category in beauty began.
Why We’re Watching: Petite ’n Pretty seeks to inspire Gen Alpha and Gen Z to embrace creative play through beauty. Since Day 1, Cutler has been heavily involved in communicating with young creatives across all of the brand’s social media platforms and in office focus groups, to best understand what products to build into the pipeline.
Personally responding to every inbound message received, the founder has cultivated a community where young creatives have a voice and are empowered to explore their creativity.
“Whether it’s a 9-year-old Instagram influencer who is already expertly cutting creases or a 13-year-old who has never used an eyeshadow before, our consumer knows they can come to us wherever they are in their beauty journey and we will support them,” Cutler told Happi. “Beyond beauty for the next generation, we aim to empower, encourage and embrace creativity in everyone.”
What’s Next: According to Cutler, the company’s goal is to partner with premier retailers, continue to grow with Ulta and take the brand national for an “in person experience.”
“We are slated to expand our category offerings within beauty,” she said. “Ultimately, we would like to expand the brand to global distribution, as we have a very engaged community of Sparkle Squad young creatives all over the world.”
Year Founded: 2017
Touchland is a fashion-forward hand sanitizer brand with skin care benefits. The company is set up to shake up the world of personal hygiene with a comfortable, vegan and cruelty-free formula. Playfully and practically packaged, the hand sanitizers are nourishing and come in a colorful spectrum of scents.
Names to Know: Andrea Lisbona, CEO and founder
Major Products: Touchland Power Mist hydrating hand sanitizer mist, Touchland Kub Smart Hand Sanitizer Dispenser
Hero Product: Touchland Power Mist
New Product: Power Mist Shield, a soft, rubber-silicone case helps protect your Power Mist from wear and tear and is available in eight different colors.
Find It: Urban Outfitters, Revolve, Riley Rose, Amazon, Liberty London, Sephora Mexico and more are coming soon.
Backstory: Hand sanitizers are critical for consumers on the go who want to stay healthy, but this commoditized industry didn’t innovate for 20 years, offering harsh formulas that dry skin, are very sticky and smell strongly of alcohol, noted company Founder Andrea Lisbona of Miami.
“We wanted to disrupt that and create solutions that make people’s lives happier and healthier,” she said. “I am from Barcelona, and hand sanitizers are not as big of an industry in Europe as they are here in the US. It wasn’t until I came to the US for a semester at USC that I got familiar with the hand sanitizer industry.”
Lisbona quickly realized two things: hand sanitizers were everywhere and with one brand controlling the lion’s share of the market, there was a huge opportunity to disrupt the hand sanitizer industry. She moved quickly to make that happen.
“When I returned to Barcelona, after studying for a business degree and taking design courses, I decided I wanted to start an entrepreneurial adventure: to reinvent hand sanitizers, similar to how Apple, Nespresso or Dyson disrupted their own industries,” she explained.
In 2016, contract manufacturer Zobele reached out to Lisbona to participate in its accelerator program. She worked with Zobele for more than 18 months to develop her first product line to debut in the US, the Touchland Power Mist. She then moved from Barcelona to Miami in 2018 to launch Touchland as the US represents 30% of the global hand sanitizer market.
“I launched Touchland with a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign. It was fully funded within 24 hours and ended up being 450% funded, which gave us wings to launch on our e-commerce site in late 2018,” said Lisbona.
The end result is the hero product, Touchland Power Mist. The dermatologist-tested formula is packed with ingredients like aloe vera and a blend of essential oils to leave hands soft and healthy. Each mist contains over 500 spritzes to evenly eliminate 99.9% of harmful germs. It’s also TSA friendly.
Why We’re Watching: Touchland is bringing beauty to a “stale and outdated” category, said Lisbona. The team spent years developing products that are not only truly revolutionary, but Instagram-friendly and fun to use. Since its introduction earlier this year, Touchland has been featured in several publications and websites including Forbes, Business Insider, BuzzFeed, Refinery 29 and People. The brand debuts this year in Ulta.
What’s Next: New scents, new skin care benefits and new solutions that make life happier and healthier, said Lisbona.
Year Founded: 2018
Developed by an Elle Beauty Genius Award winner and certified crystal healer, Mazz Hanna offers crystal-infused luxury skin care, crystal beauty tools and crystal accessories that are said to elevate the beauty and wellness routine.
Names to Know: Mazz Hanna, founder and CEO
Major Products: Amethyst-Infused Cuticle Oil, Magnifier Quartz-Infused CBD Essential Oil Blend, Smoky Quartz-Infused CBD Foot Spray, Carnelian-Infused CBD Skin Salve, Citrine-Infused CBD Bath Tonic
Hero Product: Amethyst-Infused Cuticle Oil, Magnifier Quartz-Infused CBD Essential Oil Blend
New Product: Rose Quartz Facial and Body Massager singles
Find It: Mazzhanna.com
Backstory: After spending more than a decade as a creative director at top advertising agencies in New York City and Los Angeles, Mazz Hanna decided to turn her passion for crystals and nail art into a full-time career. Her innovative and conceptual approach of pairing crystal healing with nail styling led her to create Crystal Healing Manicure. As a certified crystal healer and aromatherapist, Hanna created custom crystal elixirs based on her celebrity client’s energetic needs.
After the initial formulations were well received by clients, Hanna decided to make these “high-vibration” skin care products available to everyone, and the Mazz Hanna brand was born. Her luxurious and customized treatments have attracted celebrity clients like Julia Roberts, Emma Roberts and Selma Blair, and have won her a coveted Elle Beauty Genius Award.
Why We’re Watching: According to Hanna herself, “The Mazz Hanna brand is committed to leaving the world a better place than when we found it, both environmentally and spiritually.”
Every small batch is said to be handcrafted and based on organic and cruelty-free ingredients and formulas are lab-tested to ensure proper CBD dosing.
“Our crystal infusions are not a gimmick,” insists Hanna.
As a certified crystal healer, Hanna thoughtfully selects each crystal for its healing properties that are synergized with each product with which they are paired.
“Our crystals are ethically sourced from vendors and miners with whom we have longstanding relationships.”
What’s Next: “We have exciting plans for retail partnerships in 2020 and are launching several new SKUs,” she told Happi.
Year Founded: 2018
Alpyn Beauty is a luxury skin care brand that sustainably harvests “wildcrafted” ingredients straight from the mountains of Jackson Hole, WY.
“We call them Fresh Mountain Actives,” said Founder Kendra Kolb Butler. “The plants we harvest are some of the hardest-working and most resilient: botanicals that are conditioned to survive in an unforgiving climate—think high altitude, low humidity, little oxygen, intense sun, harsh wind and heavy snowfall.”
When applied to skin, these plants perform just like they do in the wild—preserving, protecting and strengthening your skin for increased resiliency, which results in skin that looks, feels and behaves more youthfully.
Names To Know: Kendra Kolb Butler, founder of Alpyn Beauty
Major Products: PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer, PlantGenius Line Filling Eye Balm, Calming Midnight Mask with Melatonin & Wild Dandelion, PlantGenius Creamy Bubbling Cleanser and PlantGenius
Hero Product: PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer
New Product: Calming Midnight Mask with Melatonin & Wild Dandelion
Find It: AlpynBeauty.com; Bluemercury, Goop.com; Credo Beauty, QVC, Saks Fifth Avenue, Shen Beauty, Aiilea.
Backstory: A former Manhattanite and 20-year beauty industry veteran, Kendra Kolb Butler created Alpyn Beauty for clients at her Jackson Hole apothecary, Alpyn Beauty Bar. Prior to that, she’s led sales, marketing and public relations initiatives at leading luxury beauty companies from Givenchy and Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare to Clarins and Coty. However, her proudest achievement to date has been finding the courage to trade her high-power NYC lifestyle for (quite literally) greener pastures.
In 2015, Kolb Butler swapped her high-heels for hiking shoes, moving west to Wyoming in search of open spaces, fresh mountain air, and serenity—husband, son, and German shepherd in tow. She became instantly enchanted with the wild forests of arnica and chamomile, and the fields of lavender and sage which make up her new backyard, and became the basis for Alpyn Beauty.
“My husband and I got to a point where we just knew that we needed a drastic life change. I remember the day we made the decision. That morning I was driving, and I heard somebody say on the radio ‘sometimes you have to jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.’ I took that as a signal from the universe,” Kolb Butler told Happi. “We both quit our jobs the next day, despite our friends and family telling us that we were crazy. But it was a ‘life-is-too-short’ kind of moment—how were we ever going to know if we didn’t try? And it felt so temporary at first, like a reset. We wanted to just get away from the stress of the city and live in nature and breathe fresh air for a bit. Three years later, here we are, still in Jackson Hole! It just felt right.”
Immediately taken by the naturally-occurring flora of Jackson Hole, Butler found the inspiration for Alpyn Beauty in the resilient and thriving wild plant life. If the dandelions, lavender, and chamomile in her backyard were strong enough to survive winter snowstorms, could they benefit the skin?
It’s all about the wildcrafting. Also known as foraging, this practice of harvesting plants from their natural, or “wild” habitat applies to uncultivated plants wherever they may be found. Alpyn wildcrafts the botanicals that thrive in the mountain environment of Jackson. Then, Butler formulates with them to make the ingredient complex PlantGenius. The end product is a skin care line packed with anti-inflammatory, nourishing and strengthening components. Fruits, flowers and branches are carefully removed, leaving the plants healthy and intact. Alpyn Beauty is packaged in 100% recycled glass and all paper cartons are FSC-certified.
Why We’re Watching: According to Kolb Butler, “We sustainably harvest our PlantGenius fresh mountain actives from Jackson Hole. These wild plants are hard-working and resilient botanicals that are conditioned to survive in a harsh climate. When applied, they perform just like they do in the wild: preserving, protecting and strengthening skin.”
What’s Next: Alpyn Beauty is planning to continue its rapid growth in 2020, having tripled its sales forecast in its first year. Kolb Butler told Happi, “We’re making key hires to the team, have a few new, innovative wildcrafted skin care SKUs coming, launching 360 digitally-based marketing campaigns and adding to our impressive list of retail and brand partners!”
Year Founded: 2019
Kana Vita is trying to rise above a “cluttered, inconsistent” CBD market. The founders, with a background in medical cannabis, seek to educate consumers and earn their trust with products that are created using high-quality organic hemp together with other natural ingredients.
Names to Know: Asel and Darren Hofgartner, founders
Major Products: Kana Vita Lotion
Hero Product: Kana Vita Balm
Find It: KanaVita.net
Backstory: These days, you can hardly walk two steps without seeing CBD-infused products. According to Kana Vita’s co-founder Asel Hofgartner, with the consumer demand for CBD on the rise, the category is rapidly becoming saturated with inconsistent quality products.
“There are many manufacturers taking advantage of the inherent confusion that exists surrounding an ingredient that is best known for its relation to a drug that is sometimes legal, sometimes not. Consumer confusion opens the door to questionable formulations and claims,” she told Happi.
Both Asel and Darren Hofgartner are former cannabis growers. After experiencing the pain-relieving benefits of cannabis that Darren (who suffers from a degenerative back condition) was experiencing, Asel set out to disrupt the typically “male-dominated” medical marijuana space in 2014. While she perfected the quality of her product, she learned everything she could about this fast-growing category.
With success under their belts, Asel and Darren Hofgartner decided to move away from medical marijuana and created a lifestyle brand.
Kana Vita Lotion, a broad-spectrum CBD formula, can be used on the face and body to help preserve the natural balance of the skin, while combating temporary and occasional discomfort. The CBD is extracted using CO2, the purest and most efficient method currently available. Other key ingredients include edelweiss flower, vitamin B-12, therapeutic essential oils and Swiss mountain water.
Kana Vita Balm, ideal for spot treatment, is perfect for alleviating problem areas and soothing dry skin. Infused with the maximum beneficial strength of CBD—more than double the amount found in most other formulas available, Kana Vita Balm is a CBD heavy-hitter. Other key ingredients include edelweiss flower, vitamin B-12, essential oils and Swiss mountain water. All Kana Vita formulas adhere to EU regulations.
Why We’re Watching: There are new players in the CBD category seemingly every week. According to Asel, “What makes Kana Vita different is founders whose background is not in beauty, but in medical cannabis. Cannabidiol is a unique, natural element in Sativa L plants that can provide anti-inflammatory benefits and more.”
But as demand grows for CBD, Asel wants the industry to pay attention to exactly how hemp plants were produced, and what methods are being used to extract the CBD.
“The cannabis plant is very temperamental. It requires attention and time to produce the highest quality extract,” she explained. “All too often, companies are sourcing their Cannabidiol without understanding the actual plant and the differences in quality. There is still a lot of confusion associated with CBD, and as a former grower, I’m looking for an opportunity to clear through it.”
What’s Next: Lavender CBD bath bombs are on the way.
Year Founded: 2018
Bevara Skin offers calming solutions for youthful skin. Formulated with botanical ingredients that are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, collagen promoters, vitamins and broad spectrum CBD, the company is dedicated to the ongoing development of innovative skin care. Bevara Skin is forever evolving through R&D and collaborating with its customers.
Names to Know: Christian Ferm, founder and CEO
Major Products: Exfoliating cleanser, moisturizer, clay mask and eye serum
Hero Product: The Clay Mask
Find It: www.bevaraskin.com
Backstory: Bevara Skin Care is named for the Swedish word for “preserve.” Company Founder Christian Ferm of Dallas, TX is fascinated by conceptual design and has a burning passion for creation. With Bevara Skin, Ferm wanted to create a brand that not only resonates with the consumer at a product level, but from a lifestyle perspective.
Building upon the foundation of his family’s manufacturing business, Ferm double-majored and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting and Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with an emphasis in finance from Chapman University. After graduating, he found his niche in retail consumer goods at Ernst & Young and became a CPA.
After much research, he realized that CBD was a commonly raised topic and while there were many brands entering the space offering health, wellness and ingestible products, nothing represented a true luxury, progressive CBD skin care line that the market craved. It was then that he recognized the potential for a well-branded, quality, continuously-evolving product line in the luxury skin care market. And soon, Bevara Skin was born.
Why We Are Watching: According to Ferm, “We specialize in ingredient research, education and customer collaboration. This is the foundation of our innovative approach to ensure we develop and formulate the products our customers want.”
He added, “I am very proud of our unique development process as it empowers our customers to truly be a part of our product and brand development.”
What’s Next: According to Ferm, “My goals for Bevara are to grow our collaborative audience and to continue to develop strong and effective ways to engage and involve them in our development process. Additionally, I plan to grow to grow our customer base and spread our message through our PR, marketing and social media efforts. We are continuing to work on our brand partnerships with retailers as well as partnering with other brands who share similar values. And, we are always listening to our customers for their input and researching new ingredients to incorporate in our evolving product line.”
Year Founded: 2019
Folly Fire is a new color cosmetics brand that is billed as brash and modern. All Folly Fire products are vegan, gluten free, cruelty free, fragrance free and made in Italy.
Names to Know: Lukas Ion and Pete Muller
Major Products: Matte Manipulation lipstick
Hero Product: Syncope Palette
Find It: FollyFire.com
Backstory: Folly Fire girls (or guys!) love bold colors as much as bold statements. They are always full of ideas and energy. They are extremely ingredient-conscious and expect high-quality and transparency when it comes to the products they put on their bodies. The brand encourages its 18–30-year-old target audience to “Be bold, be folly and free your #innerfire.”
The co-founders met during their university years and ended up working for small, independent, beauty companies in the UK. Ion was dealing with logistics, warehouse management and accounting while Muller was handling digital marketing, copy writing and business development.
Muller began working as a copy writer for beauty companies, with a robust catalogue of material across marketing, social and various consumer facing roles for several indie brands in the UK. Finding a knack for the budding social media industry, he soon pivoted his career to start a social media marketing company.
Ion supported himself during those university years through a management role at a warehouse that hosted a variety of indie beauty brands. While taking care of delivery services and stock, he quickly fell in love with the backend business and shifted his career aspirations to logistics, accounting and product management within the beauty industry. Eventually, Ion climbed through the ranks to become the CEO of a private label beauty brand supplying products to Europe and the US.
It was during this time the guys met and became business and life partners. During their four years of working together they had seen a one-dimensional, minimalistic approach to clean beauty: safe colors, simple “black & white” designs, lack of product storytelling. They wanted to break away from this idea of conventional, clean beauty and create a fun, vibrant and sassy brand with a story that speaks and understands the language of Generation Z.
Both Muller and Ion left their jobs and co-founded Folly Fire to pursue their dreams and change the narrative of clean, color cosmetics. Folly Fire launched in the US with Matte Manipulation, a collection of high-dose, long-lasting, confidence-inducing lip colors. The luxurious, buildable formula transforms lips into a pout-perfect art show, “ready-to-slay any occasion,” according to the company.
Its latest launch is the Syncope Palette, a collaboration between Folly Fire and Silvija Gorcha (@gorchart), a tattoo artist and illustrator working in Spain. Gorcha’s work is interpreted into one extremely colorful palette. Syncope offers nine unique shades including three mattes—Swoon, Ether and Blackout and six shimmer—Trance, Nirvana, Sentient, Amnesia, Mirage and Abyss. All are mind-bending looks that are stylish and flattering to all skin tones, said the company.
Why We’re Watching: According to Muller, Folly Fire is “extremely ingredient-conscious.”
What’s Next: Traditional retail in 2020 and more new launches.
Year Founded: 2015
After traveling and living in 70 countries, the globetrotting founders of Nomad Cosmetics discovered that unique beauty is everywhere. Inspired, they settled in Dallas, TX and created a makeup line to bring to life unique destinations through cosmetics. By designing on location, each product has its own authentic story to tell through every detail.
Names To Know: Antti Rintanen and Felicia Rintanen, co-founders
Major Products: Stockholm Midnight Sun Highlighter; Marrakesh Medina Eyeshadow Palette; Berlin Underground Eyeshadow Palette, Antilles Eyeshadow Palette
Hero Product: Tokyo Harajuku Palette
New Product: Italy Collection—Lake Como Eyeshadow Palette; Tuscany Eyeshadow Palette
Find It: https://nomadcosmetics.com/; Amazon and Ipsy Shopper
Backstory: According Felicia Rintanen, as industry veterans and Procter & Gamble alumni, the Nomad co-founders truly believe in the importance of connecting with the consumer and the power of brands.
Both worked in brand management. Felicia worked there for almost eight years becoming senior brand manager working in beauty and across geographies, while Antti was there for nearly five years becoming brand manager within beauty and mainly in Western Europe. This was the time when AG Lafley led P&G and his mantra was “The consumer is boss” and the focus was growing powerful global brands such as Olay and CoverGirl.
“For us, a brand is like a human. It is something that needs to grow and develop on a journey. It has a personality, life stages and hopefully can bring positive feelings to consumers,” she told Happi. “With this in mind, Nomad is a brand focused on exploring, discovering and telling stories of unique destinations with each launch. The brand’s foundation is that the makeup has to be some of the best out there. We have been testing and playing with makeup for 20-plus years so we know good makeup. We also keep our ingredients clean, cruelty-free and they are 90% vegan.”
Why We’re Watching: “What makes us unique is the passion of exploration and authenticity for each launch,” said Felicia. “Along with tons of research on each destination, we design at each location so we can absorb and capture the vibe enabling us to create the inspirational theme, color scheme, shade names, special ingredients and design elements. This authentic development and attention to detail helps create Nomads uniqueness. Our brand and launches are meant to be an experience for the ‘Beauty Nomads’ of this world.”
Nomad understands the consumer and is evolving to meet their needs. For example, in October 2018 it launched its Berlin Underground palette and received feedback from consumers who wanted more mattes in the set. Since that launch, Nomad balances mattes and other finishes and consumers are loving it.
“It is a little thing but it shows we are listening and staying in touch,” said Felicia. “Every day we receive consumer emails and DMs thanking us for connecting with them and how much they love our product, our brand or our story. When they love all three, that is magic!”
What’s Next: Nomad’s future plans are very broad. Felicia notes, “First is to continue to grow and get the word out about Nomad. We are still very small and the cosmetics market is very cluttered so. day-by-day, we keep working toward getting a few more people to know us.”
Longer-term plans include getting into other cosmetics and eventually beauty categories that make sense for the Nomad brand. And, of course, exploring destinations that continue to be off the beaten path and to showcase unique locations around the globe.
Year Founded: 2017
Savor Beauty + Spa is a natural skin care and spa brand inspired by K-beauty rituals and made in New York by women. Its award-winning facial spas use the products in facials and offer them as retail for daily self-care rituals. They partner with women-owned spas and esthetician entrepreneurs to offer the cleanest facials and products on the market.
Names to Know: Angela Jia Kim, CEO
Major Products: Pumpkin, Carrot Rose, Raspberry Serums; Yuzu Lemonade, Pumpkin Enzyme, Cherry Collagen Peels; Truffle, Caviar Creams
Hero Product: Pumpkin Serum
New Product: Cherry Collagen Peel
Find It: Savor Beauty, select spas nationwide, Nordstrom
Backstory: According to Founder Angela Jia Kim, New York, “Savor Beauty’s mission is to simplify Korean beauty rituals and offer holistic organic skin care that works. Our promise is products made with certified organic, natural or plant-based ingredients; locally handcrafted in New York in small batches; Leaping Bunny-certified, cruelty-free and full of the good stuff, none of the toxins.” Savor Beauty is also woman led and operated.
“I wanted to incorporate the Korean beauty rituals that I grew up with,” said Kim. “But as a busy mom and wife living the gorgeous chaos of New York City, I needed flawless skin in a New York minute. And it must be organic and it must work.”
Why We’re Watching: The Savor Spas offer holistic facials, massages, and treatments using its in-house collection.
“Our estheticians and therapists are trained extensively to meet the Savor Beauty Standard of unparalleled five-star care for beautiful mul-gwang [water glowing] skin,” Kim told Happi. “We empower women by teaching them self-care rituals.”
What’s Next: Savor Beauty is partnering with women-owned spas and esthetician-entrepreneurs to offer clean facials, backbar and retail products to clean up beauty around the world, one face at a time.
Year Founded: 2003
As the creators of one of the first organic lip balms, this indie company has expanded over time to encompass lifestyle and beauty products. All Eco Lips products are made with solar energy and wind power offsets and feature sustainably-sourced ingredients that are USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free and cruelty-free. Eco Lips is a certified B Corporation focused on the triple bottom line—people, planet and profit. “We’re passionate about creating the best lip care products for the world and being true innovators in the market,” said Jane Merten, vice president-marketing, Eco Lips, St. Marion, IA.
Names to Know: Steve Shriver, co-founder and CEO; Jim King, co-founder; Glen Jasper, president and CSO; Rob Shriver, COO; and Jennifer Johnson, director of innovation
Major Products: Mongo Kiss, Hemp, Lip+Cheek Tints, Lip Food, Lip Scrubs, Bee Free and Ecolixer
Hero Product: Mongo Kiss Vanilla Honey with Vanilla Mint Hemp is on a fast growth trajectory.
New Product: Lip+Cheek Tints, a multi-tasking beauty balm that complements every skin tone. The line, which comes in red, pink and nude, contains organic jojoba, coconut oil, Fair Trade Certified cocoa butter and sunflower seed wax.
Find It: Wal-Mart, Amazon, Sprouts, Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Wegman’s, Lucky’s Market and hundreds of natural food stores and co-ops.
Backstory: Eco Lips is the original organic lip balm, according to Merten.
“Our 36,000-square foot manufacturing facility is powered with 100% renewable energy—75% from 5,900 square feet of solar panels installed on our roof and 25% from Iowa wind energy offsets,” she told Happi. Merten continued, “We were founded because of love, we sell our products because of love, and we innovate because of love. It’s the core tenet of our entire story. We use our products to compel our ideals: healthy lifestyle and a respect for the earth. We produce organic lip balms, lip scrubs, sun protection lip balm, tinted beauty balms and facial oils…there are no shortcuts in creating great products. Our purchasers strive to find the purest and highest quality raw materials available. Because of the nature of our products, we support organic farming and sustainable business practices.”
Why We’re Watching: Eco Lips has been first to market with several innovative organic lip care products and packages. It launched the first organic lip balm, the first hemp lip balm in 2005, the first energy lip balm, the first Create-Your-Own lip balm, the first brand to use organic Mongongo Oil in the US, the first FSC Certified 100% biodegradable & compostable paper tube, the first certified organic lip scrub, and the first refillable lip balm, noted Merten.
“We are the actual manufacturers of our products and serve private label and contract customers from our facility in Marion, Iowa,” she added. Eco Lips is also a Certified B Corp and are the 2019 Best For The World honoree recognized as a Changemaker within the industry.
“We pay a minimum $15 per hour to our employees which is above the state of Iowa’s minimum wage requirement. We offer full health benefits, 401K matching, flexible work schedules and 20 hours of paid time off for community service,” explained Merten.
What’s Next: Merten is excited about 2020. She told Happi, “We have always been one step ahead of the game when it comes to product and package innovation. Our future plans revolve around our goal of becoming a zero-waste facility with packaging that is eco-conscious and recyclable.”
Merten added, “Expect exciting product and innovative packaging launches in 2020.”
• There is a lot of excitement ahead for the beauty category. According to ICMAD President Dr. Ken Marenus, here are a few noteworthy trends to watch within indie beauty:
CBD + (Plus)
• As the cannabis trend continues to grow, the next generation of CBD skin care products will make more focused product claims and feature better delivery systems. For example, combining anti-inflammatories with active anti-aging ingredients (CBD + retinol, CBD + peptides, CBD + AHAs).
3D Printed Beauty
• The next generation of 3D printed makeup. If executed well and affordable, could be an interesting proposition for a segment of the population. There is a similar opportunity to extend 3D to categories outside of current color cosmetics, like nails.
Minimalist or “Survivalist” Skin Care
• Busy consumers are searching for a more streamlined and targeted approach to beauty. The “skip care” trend is emerging as the antithesis of the 10-step Korean skin care regimen. We are in the midst of a course correction and brands that focus on simplicity and convenience in a modern way have an opportunity to stand out to consumers.
Genderless Beauty and the Rise of Inclusive Beauty
• The democratization of beauty, driven by consumer demand, will challenge traditional gender stereotypes, and task brands to develop better products that are more accessible to more diverse populations spanning all different races, ethnicities, genders and income levels.
• Also known as single-dose beauty, while not “new,” this concept is starting to make a comeback
• While there has been a recent focus on sustainable packaging and the reduction of plastic waste (footprint), it’s now “table stakes” for brands to embed sustainability into their supply chain, taking a more responsible community sourcing approach (handprint) to their businesses. These brands focus on making a positive impact on the local communities from which they source their ingredients.