How to start a face cream business

When cosmetic legend Estee Lauder began mixing up batches of face cream from her chemist Uncle John's recipe, she turned her kitchen into an experimental laboratory, adding and subtracting ingredients until her recipe was perfect. Years later, Texas cosmetics maven Mary Kay followed exactly the same path, albeit without an uncle with a scientific background. Both women had a passion for formulating face creams aimed at helping women nurture their skin from youth to maturity. Both spent their lives improving and developing new and improved products, and each is still considered a groundbreaker in the world of women's skin care. Assuming you have your own secret cream recipe and dream of joining the ranks of these pioneers, your biggest challenge will be finding ways to reach women in search of the next generation of facial enhancers. Given today's retailing options, you may wish to tap markets via the Internet and through retail stores.

Sleuth out recipes for homemade face creams by reading books and articles on the subject. Mix several up in your kitchen and add or subtract ingredients until you reach the feel, fragrance and absorption you seek. Alternately, resurrect an old family recipe used by women in your family for generations. Infuse the vintage formula with new fragrances to update it. Don't forget to try it out on your friends.

Hire an independent laboratory to evaluate your formula for sustainability, potential allergy-producing ingredients, shelf life and other properties that could affect the way the cream performs over time.

Choose a graphic designer to produce art for your labels, bottles, jars, outer packaging and other signature containers. Bring samples of packaging used by other companies and explain what you want--and what you don't want--from your cream's package. Get production bids from manufacturers. You may have to split your vendor list because box makers don't always make jars and bottles.

Draft a budget. Estimate expenses needed to produce your face cream and include such specific line items as ingredient costs, mixing bowls and appliances in the calculation. Double the figure. It's more efficient to overestimate your cash needs than to find your cream selling so fast you don't have enough cash to produce more product.

Secure financing if your plan includes opening a facility to make and package the face cream. Turn to government small business agencies for start-up funds. You may qualify for additional help if you fall into a special category such as minority ownership. Banks, brokers, the Small Business Administration and venture capitalists may also be able to underwrite your business.

Apply for a license to produce your facial formula and apply for a tax ID number for your company. Although your face cream comes under the heading of health and beauty aids, it does not require a seal of approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Secure an insurance policy that covers product-specific risks that could result from lawsuits brought on behalf of a face cream user and/or her family.

Have a copywriter develop a product sales insert to be packaged with your jars and bottles of cream. This insert should cover benefits and features the user can expect when using the cream, ingredients, warnings and company contact information. Clip and save ads, Internet pages and marketing and advertising material to compare the ways other firms brand their creams; share those with the writer.

Launch a website to double your marketing efforts or use the site as your only outreach tool until the business grows. Hire a student enrolled in your local community college's graphic design department to set the site up for you. Then either maintain it yourself or comparison shop Web hosting services. You are only required to charge sales tax to those purchasing your product from within your state. Estimate shipping costs by taking ready-to-mail products to the post office, UPS, FedEx or preferred agent to be weighed.

Attend regional health and beauty trade shows to attract buyers from around the globe. Bring along pricing sheets so buyers know exactly what breaks you offer for large quantities of cream. Pay attention to buyers representing chain stores to secure the largest orders.

Hire staff once sales begin to flow. If you're looking for a great way to get assembly line help for boxing and shipping, consider contracting with a sheltered workshop so people with special needs can help get your product to buyers.

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