Spa Business

From Beaker to Countertop, Private Label Helps Indie Brands

Independent, or indie, beauty brands are those that lack financial backing from major cosmetics companies, but they’re not lacking for opportunity in today’s market.

In fact, indie brands have an advantage against big-name competitors in that they can more easily hone in on niche needs, especially sought-after ones like clean and cruelty-free beauty. They can also be master storytellers, wowing customers with innovative ingredients or attracting people who want to support a small, woman-owned business, for instance.

The challenge is in gaining traction. Although now is a great time to be an indie beauty brand because digital platforms such as Amazon, Etsy, Instagram and TikTok give entrepreneurs easy access to market and sell their products, strong partnerships with manufacturers are still critical, and private labels are the best place to start.

A private label solution means that the product is already a manufactured, commercialized formula. Private label sales increased by almost $2 billion between 2020 and 2021, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association.

Consider Glossier, an indie brand that launched in 2014 with a moisturizer, face mist, skin tint and lip balm. By January 2020, it had 36 skincare, makeup and fragrance products, and it has generated $1 billion in sales.

Glossier’s key differentiator? Making products that put skincare first and makeup second, a trend that big-name manufacturers have since followed. In fact, a 2021 Mintel report found that customers prioritize products that benefit their skin, such as foundation with SPF or eyeliners with vitamin E.

The bottom line is that indie brands can have industry-changing impact: “The independent beauty industry is pushing mainstream giants to focus on diversity, sustainability, and public image in new ways,” according to a recent Covalo blog.

Cosmetics sellers are noticing. The blog notes that Ulta stocks indie brands such as women-owned Beauty Bakerie and Juvia’s Place next to luxury names like Clinique and Nars. “Their ownership is often part of their marketing,” according to the blog. “Both brands aim to uplift women entrepreneurs and use their marketing to do so. This sends a message to consumers that by purchasing their products, they are not only supporting women in business, but they’re paving the way for other, younger entrepreneurs to believe that they can do so too.”

Here are five ways you can get your beauty brand out of the beaker and onto customers’ counters:

  • Choose your niche. Marketing is crucial, but first you need a product and an audience who needs it – for instance, customers with sensitive skin who would appreciate organic ingredients’ less-abrasive effects.
  • Form a partnership with a manufacturer. Manufacturers work with you to create custom-made formulas that work together to maximize customers’ skin health.
  • Coordinate your message. Selling clean skincare? Go for simple packaging and advertising. For instance, Glossier reinforces its skincare-first message through ads with natural-looking, rather than heavily made-up models.
  • Use social media as you would foundation: Don’t overdo it. Influencers make or break makeup and skincare trends, and it’s fine to take advantage of those that fit your branding. But keeping your message consistent so that customers see your products not as a trend but as essential.
  • Start small and layer on. It’s OK – perhaps even best – to start small and scale from there. Many successful indie beauty brands launched in a single product category. Once you’ve achieved success, add offerings.

Vitelle Labs is the ideal partner throughout your private label journey. The leading manufacturer of private label products in the professional skincare market, it they specialize in naturally sourced, plant-derived formulations enhanced with cutting-edge cosmeceuticals.

Vitelle Labs works with customers to test products to ensure that what they sell under their own  label meets their standards and expectations. Customers can also choose packaging from one of the largest selections of in-stock options in the market and work with Vitelle Labs’ expert graphic artists on label design. When it’s time to start selling, Vitelle Labs can connect customers with suppliers that specialize in sales optimization materials and print media, and they offer training to help you put your product’s best face forward.

For more information and to get started, call 1.877.902.2332 or visit

The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.