Hopefully you have just read Part 1 of the Introduction to the FREE Online Skincare Business Course and are now ready to think about setting up your business in more detail.

What are you actually going to sell?

Sounds a bit obvious eh? Natural skincare products of course. Great – but exactly which ones? What exactly is your product range going to be? You may have made some of your own products already, or you may not have started yet and are just toying with the idea of starting a natural skincare business. Either way, read on.

If you haven't made any of your own products but want to get started with your business as soon as possible then check out the natural skincare product e-book recipes. These are recipes for natural skincare products that spent a huge amount of time in research and development, were previously sold commercially and many of them won awards! All you have to do is get them cosmetically certified in your name (or that of your business), register your products on the GB Portal and follow the relevant guidance on few other issues (your cosmetic chemist often helps here - see details of cosmetic chemists), brand them and sell them!

If you have already made some of your own homemade natural skincare products for yourself or friends and family, is there one particular stand-out product that you feel is absolutely fantastic and which everybody is wanting to use, or do you have a whole range of products lined up waiting to go?

If I can give you a tip here, it would be to start small. It is better to have a few fantastic products and specialise in a certain area, for instance hands and nails, than have a whole range of different products. If you start your business in a niche area it is easier to market and promote in the early days, particularly if you do not have a lot of marketing or sales experience. You can always increase your range of natural skincare products but there are quite a few reasons to keep your range small and manageable at the start, especially if you have not run a business before.

Reasons to start your business with a small product range

If you want a low cost start-up natural skincare business then there are many reasons for starting with a small product range. If you already have a large product range, have tested all your products out for effectiveness and are confident that all the products will sell, then you can still go ahead and launch with a larger range, just be aware of the following points:

  • First is the cost of the CPSR reports (cosmetic product safety reports). You will need a separate CPSR report for every different formulation or recipe. If you have a range of eight soaps and the base formulation is the same for each product but each of the eight soap bars uses a different essential oil (ie orange, lemon, lavender etc), then you will need eight different CPSR reports, one for each bar of soap. TIP – there is a potential way to save money here if you are just making one type of product with many variations such as the soap example above, see details on cosmetic safety consultants for ways to save money.

  • The cost of the raw ingredients for many different products. You may have only simple formulations for your recipes but if you use a lot of different raw ingredients then the costs can add up when you are starting out. A clever way is to start with a small and specialist range and then, if you can, develop new products that use some of the raw materials that you already use. However, don't make the mistake of just trying to create a new product using more or less the same formulation as another product. Nothing says 'I don't know what I am doing' more than trying to launch two nearly identical recipes as completely different products.

  • The shelf life of the raw ingredients you are using. Some raw ingredients for natural skincare products have a much shorter shelf life than others and unless you have regular sales of your products you may end up with a lot of raw ingredient wastage if it goes out of date.

  • The cost of the potential different sizes of packaging and labels required for different products. It is much easier in the beginning to keep things simple. If you have a range of 8 different products you will probably need different containers, for instance a balm and a body oil could not use the same container. As you start to make sales and order larger quantities you will find that the cost per container goes down so your profit will increase but in the early days this is something that you need to keep in mind.

  • The time it takes to make all the different products. Don't underestimate this! You need to be following what is known as a good manufacturing process. Think about this as just common sense on the hygiene and cleanliness front, a bit like if you were making cakes at home to sell to the public. Everything needs to be clean and hygienic when you start and you will need to wear a disposable hair cap and lab coat. You will also need to log all your ingredients for each batch of products that you make and carefully measure all the ingredients out before making and putting into containers. It can't be rushed, if you get distracted and put the wrong amounts or wrong ingredients in then you can't use that batch of products to sell to the public because they do not meet the formulation that you had cosmetically certified. Potentially, a very expensive mistake.

  • The space required to store the raw materials and finished stock in the correct conditions. Your raw materials, such as essential oils or butters and oils, must be stored in clean and dry conditions and not anywhere with extreme temperatures, so the garage or garden shed would not be suitable for raw ingredients storage or the storage of the finished products or they may spoil.

  • Trying to market lots of totally different products. I'll be doing a separate article on sales and marketing but you will need some sort of literature to hand out if you sell in shops, markets or at fairs and even if you are going to concentrate on selling solely on-line, you will need to have some form of marketing message. If you have a broad range of products such as hand cream, acne cream and foot cream, you may struggle to get your message over for a diverse range of products in the early days if you don't have a lot of experience.

  • The potential wastage of having lots of stock remaining unsold by their ‘best before end’ (BBE) dates. When you start your business you will never be sure which product is going to end up being your best seller and which one might not sell at all, so starting small and concentrating on a small and specialised product range where you can make small batch amounts on a regular basis means you can limit and hopefully prevent any stock going past BBE dates and being wasted.

  • If you are thinking of selling at markets and shows, think about how you are going to transport a large amount of different stock around, and also be aware that every event you attend will usually have a different sized 'space' that they allocate you, so you have to get creative with your display stands (see my tips for selling at markets and fairs).

If you are investing a lot of money in the start-up of your business then it may well be appropriate to go for a larger range but if you are looking for a low cost start up natural skincare business then start small and grow the business organically.

I started my business with a range of five body oils, an unscented one and four with blends of essential oils, however I increased the look and range of what I had by offering them in either a 100ml or 50ml size. The 50ml size was perfect for people wanting to try the product or buy as a travel size and it also meant that the same formulation of product could be used to fill either container (so I could be making the product for both sizes of dispenser at the same time). TIP: the CPSR certifies that the formulation or recipe that you use is safe to use as a cosmetic product, therefore if I made a large batch of unscented body oil then I could put that into any size container, as it is still the same certified formulation or recipe. You should note however that as part of the cosmetic safety certification procedure you usually have to specify what type of container(s) you will be using so another reason to plan your product range in advance.

It is useful to make a product and try different types of containers to see which is best for looks, safety and usage before making a final decision. For instance, if you decide to make a cleanser and sell it in green glass bottle, it may look absolutely lovely but I don't like glass in the bathroom as I have often dropped products in the sink whilst using them and wasted all the product. Glass is also heavier to post and may need extra packaging ie bubble-wrap, which will all add to your costs. However, coloured glass looks lovely from a presentation point of view and is recyclable and if you are selling mostly at fairs and markets then the postage costs will not be as much of an issues. Glass may be better for say a bath oil and not for a cleanser where you may have greasy hands and be using it over a sink. This is why it is important to make your products and package them as you are going to sell them and get them tested by friends and family (and yourself!) before you sell to the public. This way you can pick up any issues there may be, potentially saving yourself a lot of time and money.

Saving money on starting your natural skincare product range

With just a bit of planning and thought you can save yourself quite a bit of money when you start up your new natural skincare business. When I started with my range of five body oils, I had two different sizes of container but they were the same type of container from the same supplier (one 50ml and one 100ml) which meant I could buy in bulk, which was cheaper, and it also saved on delivery charges. Also, the pumps that I used would fit either size container meaning I could buy in bulk again.

The labels for the containers were the same, apart from one saying 100ml and the other 50ml. The design cost from the graphic designer for copying one label and changing the ml size was negligible. The additional print cost for the labels was also negligible as when the printer is running your job they already have those colours on their machine so a second run does not add much to the cost at all as there is no set up. The marketing literature was also the same, as was the exterior packaging. You can now start to see how just giving a little thought to things in the early days can save you both time and money.

Think carefully now about what your new business is going to sell.

Your Business Product Range - Things to Think About

  • What natural skincare or beauty products am I going to sell?

  • What size(s) am I going to sell them in?

  • What containers am I going to use?

  • What sort of labelling can I use on the containers? (does it need to be water or oil proof?)

  • What is my exterior packing (if any) going to be?

  • How will I wrap the product if I need to post it to the customer?

  • What sort of delivery service will I use to get the product to the customer?

  • If I sell at a market or a fair, how will I wrap/bag the product for the customer?

Once you have thought about these points, take a break, have a coffee, walk the dog or something and then come back to them and consider whether or not you can improve on any aspect of your products by either changing/adding/deleting a size, using a different container or packaging etc.

If this takes you some time to decide on your product range don't worry - it shows you are really putting some effort and thought in to what you are going to sell. It's really tempting to want to rush ahead and just get your business up and running but remember;

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success
Alexander Graham Bell

Once you have an idea of your homemade natural skincare product range written out, then it's time to move on to the next article to Who are you going to sell to?

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