Article Written for The Red Tree, a leading international beauty brand consultancy.
December is often a time for reflecting on the past 12 months and planning for the year ahead. I have to say, 2014 has been the most varied year I have ever experienced. At the beginning of 2014 I was still officially a paid up member of the finance industry, enjoying all the stress and trappings that go with it. But outside of work I was feverishly working with my business partner, Ramin, to finalise a new skincare brand that we proudly launched in the middle of 2014.
We are not your everyday brand owners, and we serendipitously stumbled into the skincare industry when looking for a way to help a loved one with agonising varicose vein symptoms. We do however have an interesting take on the industry as unlike most of the people that we have met along the way, we do not have decades of experience working in beauty and skincare. What we initially thought would be an obstacle to our growth, has in fact become quite a useful asset as we have tried to analyse and enter this competitive market as outsiders and often this has provided an interesting insight into our customers, competitors and the fast-moving and ever-changing online environment that we find ourselves in.
After less than a year in the industry I am still learning something new every day, but I thought it would be interesting to summarise my key learnings from our launch year, which may be of some use to others who are working on a brand launch in 2015.
My top take outs from my learning curve year that was 2014:
- Be clear on your brand and your point of difference
- Know you customer
- Competition is fierce! There are lots of brilliant beauty brands out there, so it takes dogged determination and focus to see your launch through
- Network as much as possible and stay connected. The most important thing you can do is build your network of industry contacts. It really is a very open and welcoming sector. I have spent the past year talking to as many people as possible to garner valuable insight, which I can then in course apply to my business. As we come from a business background, we’re very aware that it makes sense to learn from other people’s mistakes and in conversations so far, I have found other beauty brand owners to be really frank and honest, which is enlightening
- Seek out events and opportunities to meet as many industry participants, particularly successful ones, as you can. Attend networking events, subscribe to and comment on blogs, tweet and retweet industry information of interest, and contribute your take and opinion to the discussion
- Embrace social media. It allows you to speak directly to your current and potential customers. Content is hugely important when engaging via social platforms. Take the time to ensure your messaging is meaningful to your followers
- Create a system that gets results for you by repeating what works well and not repeating what doesn’t. There will be an element of trial and error, while you find your feet socially, but you have to be in it to win it. Connect with industry friends to discover what works best for others. Engage people who care about the same things you care about, align with like-minded brands and your efforts will pay off in increased visibility and more sales!
- Be sure to keep up with regulations and trends. Read them, understand them and make sure you follow them. Not only will this keep you out of trouble, but it will also build your credibility in the industry
- Never stop working on your website; it is the first place that your customers and retailers will look to learn about your brand.
- Go Mobile… Make sure that your website is compatible with mobile devices as the way people browse the net has evolved over the past few years.
- Enjoy it! It has been really hard work, with plenty of sleepless nights, but I have had some great fun along the way. I have met the most fantastic people and I am beyond excited for what 2015 will bring. And that won’t be a return to finance!
By Armen Mirzoian, co-founder of Cloud 9 Skin Solutions