Since this blog launched four months ago, people have been asking me will I eventually start my own skin care brand. I have learned to never say never, but as of now I am feeling a strong no. I love supporting other brands that provide quality products and services, align with my passion, and agree with my budget, especially if they are black owned. I do not want to formulate for the sake of existing or because it “makes sense.” I’m all about holes in the market. What need is not being met? As of now, I love the skin care regimen I have created and continue to explore but who knows how I will feel in a few years?
In the event my new skin care concerns are not being met, I will definitely be hitting up cosmetic chemist, Gavanne Davis. If starting a blog felt overwhelming, I can only image what it feels like to start a beauty brand. For those who are at that place now or even contemplating how to start a skin care, beauty, or personal care line, Gavanne has answered a few questions about how to get started, what’s your most valuable investment, and more.
Introduce yourself & why you do what you do.
Hi, guys! My name is Gavanne Davis and I am the founder and CEO of Vann Cosmetics. I help beauty brands launch cosmetic lines, as well as manage the Vann Cosmetics Haircare line.
Tell us about the inception of Vann Cosmetics and how it fuels your passions.
Vann Cosmetics Consulting started because I noticed a need for regular people to tap into the multibillion dollar personal care industry. I would listen to so many people who wanted to launch a cosmetic line, but didn’t know how to get started. Vann Cosmetics came from the need to develop a high performing curly girl haircare line from an actual cosmetic chemist who has curly hair.
Describe what sets your brand apart from others?
I have experience working in the industry and formulating all sorts of cosmetic products. This isn’t just a hobby or kitchen product; Vann Cosmetics is backed by a professional who does this for a living.
How easy or challenging is it to find a black-owned chemical manufacturing company?
Working with any chemical manufacturing company is not easy, because it’s tough to even get them to respond to you if you aren’t already big in the industry. I don’t know any black-owned consulting company other than my own.
Talk more about your suite of services.
We draft formulas, develop packaging and labeling for accounts, handle any lab tests involved, and so much more.
What are some of the hidden or additional costs that the average person may be unaware of when starting a cosmetic line?
The average person may not realize that most companies require that a certain amount of product must be purchased, especially if it is a custom formula. Most manufacturers require a 5,000 piece minimum. That is where a high cost may come in, so make sure you have a place to store the product and you are serious about selling it.
Do artisanal brands have to adhere to FDA standards? Does this change with expansion?
Yes, yes, and yes! If you are making anything handmade in your house, you must get it FDA approved. If anyone falls ill because of your products, you may be in big trouble. The FDA is also there to make sure you fall within guidelines, so you can be sure your products are safe to use.
If someone wanted to start a beauty brand, what would you advise as the first step?
My first suggestion is to make sure you know exactly who you are selling to and how you want to market your products. The biggest thing is how you decide to market your product.
Other than searching Google, how does the average person find a reputable chemical manufacturing company?
How does a brand protect its formulas?
That’s an interesting question. If it contains a new, innovative ingredient, then you can file a patent. If it doesn’t, then you can’t really protect your formula. Most chemical companies are able to breakdown your formula and recreate it anyway, which is why having a strong brand to go with your product makes a difference.
With larger brands being able to formulate products similar in ingredients and performance and sell at a significantly lower cost and price than entrepreneurial brands, do you advise smaller brands to seek expansion to protect themselves from becoming obsolete? What happens when larger companies seek interest in niche markets?
Even large brands sell to a certain market. If and when they decide to change directions, it will cost them money and time to gain those new customers. Not all niche markets interests large companies anyway. My suggestion is to just focus your attention on your brand and your products. Competitors large and small will always be there.
For someone who may feel discouraged to start and maintain a small skin care line, what would you say are the advantages?
They should remind themselves why they wanted to do it in the first place. It will be a lot of work, but so many people have done it before them. They can do it too. There’s enough room in the beauty business for everyone.
How much does investing in branding, marketing, advertising, and distribution affect the longevity of a brand? Would you say it’s equally as important as the formulas?
It may be more important than the formula. Of course you want to sell a good product, but the way you package and present that product is what people will remember and get them buying it again.
How do manufacturing companies stay competitive?
Consumers constantly demanding new and improved beauty products keep manufacturers in business. Also, regular people who have big dreams to start cosmetic lines keep manufacturing companies competitive.
You’re a chemist. When clients want “natural” products, how is that defined? What is it absent of?
Natural and organic could mean anything depending on the manufacturer. The FDA does not have a clear definition of either. There is a such thing as getting ingredients organically certified or kosher ingredients. Those specifications are provided by the chemical distribution company a manufacturer purchases a product from.
Fill in the blank: Working in the beauty industry requires ___.
Creativity and Passion
What organizations do you recommend for more black girls to get involved with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)?
What’s on your vanity and what’s in your purse?
A bunch of samples I test for accounts and my own Vann Cosmetics haircare line I’m testing.
Share your skin care regimen.
Right now I’m trying out Clinique’s face wash, toner, and moisturizer. I’ve heard great things about their skincare line.
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