Growing skin care firm looks to next step

During 2017, the company has experienced growth of 230%, and its products are on the shelves at about 30 retail locations, with more being added each week. The products are available on the Saks Fifth Avenue website as well. OY-L ships out anywhere from 50 to 800 jars of product per week.

Pierce-Naymon’s timing in joining the cosmetics industry is good. Independent beauty brands are a fast-growing segment in the market and retailers are seeing them as crucial to their success, said Jillian Wright, co-founder of Indie Beauty Expo.

“Indie beauty helps to differentiate a retailer’s environment from their competitors,” Wright said. “As mass beauty becomes more cookie cutter and redundant, indie brands offer a uniqueness, a curative approach to beauty that is appealing to not only beauty retailers, but fashion as well.”

Consumers also are drawn to independent brands because they see their purchases as having a connection that doesn’t exist within a mass retail environment, she said.

Wright’s trade show in New York was one of Pierce-Naymon’s first stops with her product line. There, she received great encouragement and positive press coverage from several national media outlets.

Two weeks later, she got a call from Saks, asking her to come back to New York to show them her line. She agreed, as she was going anyway to buy items for the clothing store, Kilgore Trout in Woodmere. Saks loved her products and packaging and thought it would be a good fit for their “apothecary” department, which puts natural products in some of their stores.

Pierce-Naymon elected to be a “drop ship” vendor for now, which means her products are not on store shelves, but available for same-day shipment when ordered on the Saks website. She chose that route because she wasn’t confident she could handle it if she got inundated with large orders. Her current facility is small, about 800 square feet in the Akron Global Business Accelerator, and it’s just herself and one employee doing all the work.

Moving into 2018, Pierce-Naymon hopes to add more retailers but also wants to drive more business through her website, as those sales are more profitable for her. Her goal is to be at $250,000 in sales by the end of 2018, including an in-store role with Saks.

But she knows such growth will require many things.

At the top of that list is securing a second round of investment, and she’s in search of mentors who can help her scale the company. She found that many of the traditional regional resources for entrepreneurs, such as Magnet and JumpStart Inc., are more into developing technology than cosmetic brands.

“I haven’t found any that was interested in funding or helping out a cosmetic company,” she said.

She plans to look beyond local options and jokes that she’s even considered applying to TV’s “Shark Tank.”

When she finds the resources, one of her top priorities will be to find more space, which she hopes to be able to secure within the accelerator building, which is in the process of being converted into an innovation hub called Bounce.

“I love working in downtown Akron and seeing the blimp fly over. I love the feeling of the old building. It’s just so cool to be here, but if we can’t get a bigger space, maybe we’ll go somewhere else,” she said.

She’d also like to hire more people to help with the labor-intensive business. Everything from making the products to sanitizing and filling jars, labeling, making boxes and packing is done by hand. Each package even goes out with a hand-written note.

She also is looking to add more automation to her production process and is considering working with a manufacturer or a co-packer to scale up production, although she wants to tread cautiously so as to not lose control of her quality.

“You have to really find somebody you trust to put out a clean product and not add anything that you don’t want in it,” she said.

Another challenge to growth is that her chemical-free products cannot sit on shelves for more than a few months, so she needs to have a good inventory-control plan going forward.

She believes the time is right for her business to continue to grow, citing forecasts that the natural cosmetics industry could be worth $7 billion within the next five years.

“I’m very happy that I got in when I did,” she said. “I definitely want to keep building and hopefully become a household name.”



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