Episode 165 – Coffee N5 – A Thousand Little Choices: Building a Product and Brand with Matt Unger

Tune into Coffee N° 5 with Lara and Matt Unger, President and CCO of Cosmetic Solutions, as they explore the essentials of building a product and brand. Highlights include tackling product building restrictions, embracing regulations, and the importance of clarity in communication. Learn why having an idea isn’t enough and why brands should follow their formulator’s guidelines. Discover the thousand little decisions needed from start to finish and how to connect your brand story to your product’s ingredients. Don’t miss this insightful episode!

We’ll talk about:

  • Product building restriction and how a change of mindset is essential. 
  • Embracing regulations and how to work around them
  • The importance of clarity and communications
  • Why having an idea is not enough
  • The thousand little decisions that need to be made to get from the beginning to the end
  • Why brands should embrace their formulator’s guidelines
  • The importance of connecting your brand story to your product’s ingredients
  • How to use your formulator as a GPS
  • What the briefing process with a formulator entails.

For more information, visit Matt Unger’s Linkedin.

Subscribe to Lara’s newsletter.

Also, follow our host Lara Schmoisman on social media:

Instagram: @laraschmoisman

Facebook: @LaraSchmoisman

Lara Schmoisman

00:05

This is Coffee Number Five. I’m your host, Lara Schmoisman. Hello. Welcome back to coffee number five. You know, guys, I’m involved in the beauty industry like I’m involved in the fashion industry. But one of the things that I learned as an entrepreneur and doing my own line of cosmetics, there was so much I didn’t know. Today, I feel like I’m a better marketer just because I had to go through that process of creating a brand. So I want to bring to you guys an expert and a good friend, Matt Ogger. Unger. Sorry. I always do this with every last name, and I know them. I swear that I know the last names.

 

Matt Unger

00:50

That was pretty good. That was pretty good.

 

Lara Schmoisman

00:52

And I destroyed them. Anyway, I think that I’m paying back for people saying my last name, Matt, for so many years. But welcome, Matt, thank you so much for joining us today.

 

Matt Unger

01:03

Thank you for having me.

 

Lara Schmoisman

01:04

I’m really glad to be here today. You are the president of cosmetic solutions, but you’ve been around for a long time over different countries, different continents. You are in Japan, in Europe, in China even. And your experience blows me away, because not only you understand the industry, you also understand different territories, which until today, I think today they’re still different, but they are globalizing somehow. But many years ago, it was really different. You need to target completely different, target audiences.

 

Matt Unger

01:51

Well, so, Lara, I’ve been around consumer goods for over 30 years because I started when I was about ten.

 

Lara Schmoisman

01:58

Yes, of course, like I did.

 

Matt Unger

02:01

But I’ve had the really fortunate experience of being able to work on so many different brands and work for so many different brands over those 30 years that it’s really given me a rich background to be able to bring to our customers today, whether it’s ultimately looking for how do I solve this problem? How do I create this solution, how do I bring this forward? How do I afford it? I’ve pretty much seen a lot of the different scenarios. So I’m really thrilled to be in this position to be able to do that for our clients, but also for the industry. So to be able to then better not only our clients, but also the industry and contribute to this fantastic beauty and personal care industry.

 

Lara Schmoisman

02:45

And what it’s very interesting about you today that you’re not only contributing to the industry today, you’re working in the future of the industry because you’re already working with formulas and new technologies that they will see in the market in the next few years.

 

 

Correct?

 

Matt Unger

03:03

So not only are we impacting what happens in the next three months. But we’re also working with our partners as well as our clients to change what’s happening in the next two to three years, correct? Yep. And that’s a really important part of guiding the future and really creating the future of categories and what they can look like, what they can feel like and what consumers can experience, whether those consumers are experienced skincare consumers or whether they’re, call it, you know, Gen Alpha, just coming into the business and starting to experience what skincare means to them and how to create the future of their skin.

 

Lara Schmoisman

03:40

In the last few years. It was a huge switch, though. I seen like you had Sephora clean, credo Clean, and a lot of brands had to reformulate change and brands just to fit in those categories. How do you feel like this clean culture will evolve in the next few years? You think that it’s going to get more restrictive? Because one thing is we’re trying to be clean, but still, by having those clean products or cleans in quotations are the products that they really work or we’re missing the mark that giving solutions that they really work in order to be clean.

 

Matt Unger

04:20

So I think that’s a really great question and it’s a really important one to all of us. In fact, there was just a great article in beauty independent about this as well. So I think the entire business has had to clean up its act, right? So we’ve all had to identify and create cleaner ingredients that not only have less incidentals, but are also better for the environment, better for the water that they eventually go into. Right?

 

Matt Unger

04:52

Better for the life cycle of things that live in the water. And so we all have to do that because there’s, what is there 8 billion of us, right? So maybe 4 billion of us are using some kind of skin or personal care products every day. Right?

Lara Schmoisman

05:06

Yeah, I want to, but I’m not sure.

 

Matt Unger

05:09

Yeah, so, I mean, who knows the real number? But all of that’s impacting the environment around us. And so the entire industry has really made a concerted effort to do better and deliver better products. And certainly we’re at the forefront of that. So we certainly focus on not only what you would call natural and clean products, but also usDA organic certified products. Right? So, you know, there’s different levels of cleanliness as you were talking about, whether it’s Sephora clean or credo clean, there’s, you know, different ingredient requirements required for those different retail outlets.

 

Matt Unger

05:47

And so different brands that are part of those ecosystems subscribe to different levels of cleanliness so we as manufacturers, we as participants within the industry have to also make decisions as to how we design around that and how we design for not only maximum goodness, but also make sure that we help ourselves to be most appealing to all of our clients.

 

Lara Schmoisman

06:10

But at this point in time, are we able to replace efficiency or efficacy with clean products?

 

Matt Unger

06:20

I think so. Today, yes. It’s taken quite a few years to get there. So I think ten years ago there was quite an evolution, terms of how you make it work and how you would emulsify and how you would get things to hold together. But we’re in a very different place than we used to be. And cleanliness right now means no trade offs. It used to mean, I’m going to make a trade off. It’s going to feel different. It might not feel so luxurious, but these days, with the choices that we have, you can deliver the most luxurious textures, the most wonderful experiences with the cleanest of constructions.

 

Lara Schmoisman

06:58

That’s good news. That is really good news because it really was a challenge over time to meet the both worlds. Because if you are a small brand and you really want to be in certain markets or in certain places, they’re going to require a lot from you. And the POS might not be that big, but you still need to meet those requirements. So would you recommend someone to start formulating from the beginning and go completely clean or what’s your recommendation for someone who’s.

 

Matt Unger

07:33

We try to think ahead for our brands, right. And really the industry needs to, but we try to think ahead so that we’re always kind of two to three years ahead of where we think the requirements are headed. Because otherwise you’re in a constant race to reformulate or take an ingredient out. You know, granted, there’s constant discontinuations of ingredients for many different reasons that we’re all grappling with. Right.

 

Matt Unger

07:58

All of us. So it’s going to happen.

 

Lara Schmoisman

08:00

That’s just a reality note here. For brand owners, this happens to everyone. It’s not everyone. It happens to big brands and small brands. I know that for small brands it’s personal, but it’s not. It’s happening in the industry and you need to meet that standards.

 

Matt Unger

08:20

Exactly, exactly. But you used an interesting word earlier. You used the word restrictions, so I like to think of them as requirements. We don’t think that it’s restricting. We believe that these regulations are there for a reason, most of which is either to protect us or to protect the environment. Or in the case of some specific states, when you think of the US. It’s to protect specific ecosystems, right? So look at what Hawaii is trying to do to protect its reefs, right? So all of these regulations exist for a reason. Whether we love them or not is a different conversation, but they’re there for a very good reason. So we embrace them and we design around them and we try to create an experience that’s as fantastic as possible given the requirements that we have to work around.

 

Lara Schmoisman

09:11

So this as a brand, it’s really important for you guys out there to understand that when you are developing a product, you need to have very clear your standards, where you want to be as a brand, because you need to talk to your manufacturer, say, these are my standards. This is what I want to meet. Communication. And here’s what I found, a lot of the problems and a lot of the gaps. And I would love to hear from you what miscommunication problems you find with brand owners when they come to you and say, I want to create a brand, I have an idea with a brand, because having an idea is easy. But then again, I’m going to use the word restriction because there are a lot of limitations. And I always say that you have your budget limitation.

 

Lara Schmoisman

09:56

If you have certain budget, you’re going to have to negotiate certain things and decide, oh, I want this packaging or this packaging. You don’t have to have settled on that. I want to be. How sustainable you can be depends on the cause. Moqs or you want to have it fast. If you want to have all these things. It’s all these things. Exactly. So you tell us a story. How is it and how can just to create a formulation, how long can we expect from day that we meet with you to the day that we’re on the market?

 

Matt Unger

10:33

That is a big, long question, Lara. So a lot of questions. There’s a really good conversation to have around that. So you recently had a podcast with Andrea Sid, I believe, where she talked about the thousands of little decisions that have to be made to get from the beginning to the end, right?

 

Lara Schmoisman

10:53

Absolutely.

 

Matt Unger

10:54

And I think that was really a very valuable discussion, but I want to build on that. So I think what’s important in bringing your brand to a formulator that can also manufacture for you, right. There’s a lot of choices that you can make, but when you bring it to a formulator that can manufacture that brand, you have to not only come with your vision and what’s important to you, but you really have to put pen to paper as you really think about what are the requirements that I want to subscribe to? Am I going to be d, to c? Am I going to go into an ulta, for instance, a sephora, a target? Where, where am I? What doors do I want to go in? Right?

 

Lara Schmoisman

11:37

And I will build into that. First, you need to know your target audience, you need to know your personal.

 

Matt Unger

11:43

Who do I want to go after?

 

 

Right?

 

Matt Unger

11:45

Who’s going to be shopping? Where, what. Who am I speaking to? Right?

 

Lara Schmoisman

11:48

I mean, if you want to be a mass product, you’re not going to go in Sephora. It’s not going to happen. So. And also, it has to do a lot with the cost. I think that a lot of brands are failing in this communication, saying this is a price point I need to hit, because if you want to go into retail, then you’re going to have to give a huge percentage of that. And if you want to make profit, you need to. Your margins are there.

 

Matt Unger

12:14

There’s constant areas where margin is going to be taken, right? Whether it’s through distribution, whether it’s through other logistics, points, rekitting, repackaging, relabeling. So there’s all of these points where margin is taken from you as a brand owner. So that also has to be taken into account as you design in the ultimate price that you feel you can retail at. And then we help you. Let’s say you know that you want to retail at $29, right, for a certain item, we have formulas, we understand how it works. And so we help you understand, well, for that price, you can have this type of formula at this type of fill size or that type of formula at that type of fill size or these types of packaging features.

 

Matt Unger

13:03

Because, right, if you want to have dressier packaging, all of it eventually piles up into a price point, right? And so, and then if you want it part and if you want it to have this, if you want a bowtie around it, all of that is going to impact the total cost and therefore the total margins that you can have with your product as you create that total vision. And so what we do is we work with you to put pen on paper so you understand the choices that you’re making, how those are going to impact ultimately what kind of juice is going to go in that beautiful, iconic little package that you want to select, right?

 

Lara Schmoisman

13:36

Yeah. And one of the things I always say is that you can love your brand. You cannot be truly in love with your brand because your brand is not going to be perfect ever. And you’re always going to find little things here and there. That you’re going to have always accept or make it evolve.

 

Matt Unger

13:56

I think the most important thing for founders and visionaries, brand owners is the ability to make decisions. And the decisions that have to be made can either. Sometimes we find out that we don’t love the decisions we made, but it’s so important to make a decision because what we find. You talked in part of the original question, you said, well, how long does it take to get to market? Right. It can take six to nine months. 

 

Matt Unger

14:24

If you work with a formula that was basically ready to go. The thing is, though, you have to be able to make decisions.

 

Lara Schmoisman

14:30

Yeah. Let’s talk for a second about that. The formula that is ready to go, because a lot of people think that the manufacturing process is going and creating a formula from scratch. But there are alternatives. You have white labeling or you have something in between.

 

Matt Unger

14:47

There’s many choices in between.

 

Lara Schmoisman

14:49

Yes, exactly.

 

Matt Unger

14:51

There’s many choices to make. Right. Quite frankly, you can take a, call it a white label or a market ready formula that a formulator or manufacturer has available and you can make it pretty custom. You can make it look like a formula that was custom designed for you very quickly. It’s really not that challenging to do. And if you put it in a beautiful package and a really sharp label, it’s, you know, who knows where it came from.

 

Lara Schmoisman

15:22

Right, exactly. And so when you someone start the process, you recommend them to start formulation, to start branding or what comes first. What is it to you? The chicken or the egg?

 

Matt Unger

15:38

Well, often the eggs are scrambled and half the time the chickens are free range, so they’re running all around. I think it’s super important that a client has a vision of who they want to speak to as a consumer and where they want to be and how many skus. What is your opening offering going to be? Right?

 

Matt Unger

16:03

How are you going to get in there and then how are you going to build upon it? I think you really need to understand not only how you’re going to start, but where am I going to be a year or two from now, so that you have a plan and then your manufacturer is going to work with you on that plan and they’re going to help you along that journey, but also make sure that manufacturer can help you on that journey. Because I think a lot of founders and visionaries that have come across sometimes choose a manufacturer that can’t help them get from a to b, and then you have to change and that becomes a scary time. Right?

 

Matt Unger

16:38

Because sometimes you don’t know what your formula really is. Sometimes you’re not given the information, sometimes you’re not really sure of all of the documentation you need. And for sure, a lot of that is going to change as Mocra comes into effect and those brands are at a certain scale. And for those that don’t know, that’s the modernization of Cosmetics Regulation act, which the FDA has implemented. But, but with that, I think it’s super important to work with a manufacturer that you can trust and that’s going to give you the right to own so that you can manage your brand as long as both of you win. Right?

Matt Unger

17:19

So both of you have to be able to win from a business perspective. But ultimately, the founder and the visionary, the brand owner, should have what they need to have. And then the manufacturer and formulator of the products that has helped you get to market should also get the benefit that they want to get out of the effort that they’ve invested in you.

 

Lara Schmoisman

17:39

Yes, but also let me build on that. You need to have all your partners together. Not only say, oh, I have a formula, and then say, oh, I need to find someone who’s going to be doing my marketing on my label, on, oh, how are we going to do sales? Because you’re going to find, like, you’re going to get in desperation mode all the time, and I see this again all the time, that, oh, now I have a brand. How do I go retail? Do you want to go retail? What was your plan? What was your original plan? Oh, I just thought that I will create such an amazing brand that things will happen.

 

Matt Unger

18:14

So there was a really interesting podcast on coffee number five recently about marketing and pr and communications. Right. So I think I very much agree. It’s really important for the brand to understand what their marketing plan is and what kind of budget. You know, you have a budget for inventory that you’re going to buy in terms of the finished goods. You also need to have a marketing budget. You need to have, if you’re going to go into doors, you typically have to pay for that retail space. So you need a budget to pay for the retail space. You need a budget to pay for attorneys because responsible parties, right?

 

Lara Schmoisman

18:49

So, so there’s all of these, you.

 

Matt Unger

18:51

Have a salesperson, sales resource or a broker. Right?

 

Matt Unger

18:54

So all of these different elements of actually making it a success and making it happen are going to require budget items and therefore are going to be parts of your margin and expense and.

 

Lara Schmoisman

19:06

Even little things that you don’t think about them, but you really, they build up to be a lot shipping. Shipping is huge. Even you have to buy the UPC cost.

 

Matt Unger

19:20

Yep.

 

Lara Schmoisman

19:21

Or packaging or secondary packaging or you’re going to have to, if you’re going to do d two c, you’re going to have the package that you’re going to be sending to or cost of postage. There is so many little hidden costs. And even if you have a website, Shopify has a cost. Every app has a cost. So you need to be very aware of everything before you decide to go into manufacture.

 

Matt Unger

19:47

You almost need to have a bit of a slush fund for those unknowns, right?

 

Lara Schmoisman

19:51

Yep.

 

Matt Unger

19:52

Because there’s almost no way contingency, there’s no way to detail out all of the unexpected cost elements that are going to come from reaching your consumers.

 

Lara Schmoisman

20:03

And the last podcast that you were mentioning before with Robin Doyle, were talking that PR now has a cost. Also, it’s not for free. You’re gonna have to give a lot of product to influencers, to editor product for free.

 

 

For free.

 

Lara Schmoisman

20:17

Yes. Gift bags. You’re gonna have to give a lot away of the product.

 

Matt Unger

20:22

You’re gonna want to be at shows even giving gift bags away. Right?

 

Matt Unger

20:25

Like the more visibility the better. Yep. It’s…it’s all giveaways.

 

Lara Schmoisman

20:29

A lot. So you expect that first, your first order is gonna be mostly giveaways. So how do you see this industry? And I’m sure you have some of these influencers or celebrities that they have brands nowadays that they’re very popular. How do they differentiate with someone else who wants to have a brand? It’s the same kind of formulas or you have a different way to work with them.

 

Matt Unger

21:01

In terms of working with celebrities and influencers?

 

Lara Schmoisman

21:03

Yes.

 

Matt Unger

21:06

So, you know, honestly, most celebrities and most of the larger influencers have their people.

 

 

Right?

 

Matt Unger

21:14

So they either have agencies that they work with or companies that help broker deals and manage all of the complexities of getting to market. But ultimately that celebrity knows that their name is behind the product. Right?

 

Matt Unger

21:28

So they’re typically highly involved in the decision making process.

 

Lara Schmoisman

21:34

But at the end of the day, are the same products that any founder can make.

 

Matt Unger

21:40

I mean, at the end of the day, it’s the same types of, I mean, there are so many things you can do from, there’s different ingredients, there’s different benefits you can speak to, there’s different textures we can design in depending on the cost profile.

 

 

Right.

 

Matt Unger

21:58

So certain cost profiles can afford a more luxurious texture because you have different modifiers and different elements that can create that experience for the consumer. So it really also depends on, again, who’s the consumer that the celebrity really wants to reach and how much of their audience do they feel can afford the price point that they will ultimately need to be at so that they’re happy with the time that they’ve spent on it and what it’s doing for them. They’ve also reached the audience that they want to reach because they have their audience and their people. Right. And then they’ve got their agency, which wants to do well, the manufacturer wants a little piece of the pie. Right?

 

Matt Unger

22:39

So again, it goes back to that whole discussion of all of those different elements of margin and cost that have to be planned for and known ahead of time.

 

Lara Schmoisman

22:50

One of the things that I found the most challenging, and it’s funny because I thought as an agency, I would find the easiest part, the packaging, because we did it all the time, the design, but then go and find the packaging. And also with the Moqs, that is something that was really challenging.

 

Matt Unger

23:10

Absolutely.

 

Lara Schmoisman

23:12

I mean, what’s the minimum order that you will suggest someone to start with? And do you see that after the first, there is how many, there are variations after the first launch of the brands, do you feel like a lot of people come back and say, hi, I think I need to reformulate.

 

Matt Unger

23:32

So I think understanding the Moqs and in a way, I’ll call it your opening volley, right? Your launch volume, understanding the Moqs that you can afford and the cash that you can lay out is super important. But understanding as well. The replenishment cycle is second in importance because I think what most young founders or even some celebrities often forget is you have to be ready to replenish. And replenishment itself takes time for a new brand. For a new brand, right. And with those young brands, especially with young brands that have, like, really innovative approaches to things, you may want to reformulate as you. Or call it course correct.

 

Matt Unger

24:13

I don’t want to call it reformulate because that’s a big word, but you may want to course correct in terms of I want to take this down or I want to talk more about this, or, you know, there, here’s the feedback I’m getting from influencers or from, you know, core users. Right. So you also have to be able to build that in as you think about your replenishment cycle and then how you’re going to implement the future of the brand over the next twelve to 18 months. Because, you know, we haven’t talked about there’s stability, there’s safety testing that was.

 

Lara Schmoisman

24:44

One of the things. Let’s talk a bit about that because you have your formula, then. I was talking about this with someone, actually, don’t order your package until you have it tested. Talk to your formulator that your formula actually works in your package. And there are many reasons that it might not work. So why are the reasons and what.

 

Matt Unger

25:08

There are often many reasons why certain packaging doesn’t work. Sometimes the formula gets exposed to springs that might be in pumps. Yes. A lot of metal is being taken out of pumps, which is very helpful, but sometimes it still happens. And, you know, things occur with resins, with color.

 

 

Right.

 

Matt Unger

25:26

Like there’s always some, you know, in my 30 years, I’ve seen enough surprises that you want to make sure that you go through the cycle right before you place it. You want to get some data. You may not want to wait for months, right. Because the stability cycle can take months, but you probably want to get some level of data so that you understand that you’ve got something giving you.

 

Lara Schmoisman

25:50

I love data. So what testing, I know that we do a testing to make sure that the formula doesn’t separate that stability. What else do we do?

 

Matt Unger

26:00

So there’s stability to make sure it doesn’t separate. And that takes it through different temperatures. Sometimes different humidities also takes it through freeze thaw because your product can get exposed to extremely cold temperatures. It can also get heat cycled because it can get exposed to extremely high temperatures for very brief periods of time. Right.

 

Matt Unger

26:20

And so you want to understand that. And then also compatibility studies, the dispensing. So a jar is easy, right. But if you’re pumping it or if you have an airless pump, you want to make sure that you can dispense something not only through the lifecycle of the product, but what if it sits in the pump for a week and then you come back to it and it gets stuck in the nozzle. Right.

 

Matt Unger

26:42

So you have some kind of polymerization of the product. So you’re going to have to fix that or you’re going to have to get a different pump that’s not going to allow that to happen. Right.

 

Lara Schmoisman

26:51

So there’s work consistency that it will come out right from the little and.

 

Matt Unger

26:58

That you’re pumping out the right amount. Right.

 

Matt Unger

27:00

So do you want half a CC? Do you want 0.25 ccs and a pump? You know, there’s so many choices to be made there and then there’s so many sizes.

 

Lara Schmoisman

27:09

One of the things that I learned is to read the reviews in Amazon or anywhere you learn a lot from that. And you say, oh, it’s a little, when you’re talking about creams and eye creams and they’re expensive, many times you don’t want to get a lot out. They want to use what you need at the time, so you don’t want the big opening. So those things are really important to keep in consideration when you choose your packaging well.

 

Matt Unger

27:33

And these days also, I think newer brands want to be very careful to try to pick monomaterial packaging, to try to be responsible in the packaging that they select. Right.

 

Matt Unger

27:44

So that’s also an important part of working with your manufacturer if, like we do, if you’re providing turnkey solutions. Right. So we have packaging partners that we work with to provide turnkey solutions that are also very focused on sustainability and monomaterial sourcing and making sure that it’s good for different recycle streams, etcetera. Right.

 

Matt Unger

28:05

So I think it’s super important to keep that in mind.

 

Lara Schmoisman

28:08

It’s very challenging because of the mockery.

 

Matt Unger

28:11

Packaging and the packaging moqs are often a little bit more difficult than the Moqs from your manufacturer.

 

Lara Schmoisman

28:20

Yes, they are. So you have to be ready. And that’s another part that is challenging, that if you need, how do you say, not reformulate.

 

Matt Unger

28:29

You need to course correct.

 

Lara Schmoisman

28:32

Course correct. Then you have your label in your packaging. So you might need to trash that.

 

Matt Unger

28:40

You may need to change your label.

 

Lara Schmoisman

28:41

Yeah. So then you are not sustainable because you trash all this product. So it’s always a challenge. So that’s why to me it’s really important to find your partners that they’ve been doing this and for a long time and they already predicting plan B. Plan this might happen. So listen to the experts. That’s what I learned for many years and I still learning, I mean, I’m learning in each podcast, but it’s so important as, because honestly, I know in every mocker regulation, I don’t know everything new.

 

Matt Unger

29:17

Well, and you shouldn’t be. Right.

 

Matt Unger

29:18

That’s, I think that’s the job of your manufacturer and their regulatory resources. Right.

 

Matt Unger

29:22

And so make sure that your manufacturer has regulatory resources that you can rely on, you know, so that you understand that you’re in good hands because.

 

Lara Schmoisman

29:32

Absolutely. And someone that you feel like, hey, if there is something that concerns me that they’re going to reach out and will let me know what you do. Yes, because it’s a lot of work to be a founder and to have a product out there and to be working with your teams and to be knocking on doors and on top of that, not trusting your team that they will do what you need to do or let you know what you need to do.

 

Matt Unger

29:59

So it’s exactly. It’s very true. And so it’s super important, like I said, it’s super important to make sure that you trust who you’re working with, that you believe that you’re in good hands and ask all of the, you know, you should be able to ask any question you want to ask and get answer that you feel comfortable getting.

 

Lara Schmoisman

30:17

Okay.Right.

 

Lara Schmoisman

30:19

I mean, I seen that there are a lot of, I don’t know, mistakes, but there are a lot of hard choices that we need to make as an entrepreneurs or business owners. But when you’re starting a brand from scratch and you don’t have a background, and to be honest with you, if you have the budget, it’s not that hard to make a cosmetic. Everett? It’s possible. It’s not that you have to have a PhD to do it. Anyone can do it as long as you partner with the right people. But what are the worst mistakes that you’ve seen people done, except for the.

 

Matt Unger

30:55

People that actually sit at the bench making your product, then they should really have the right degree.

 

Lara Schmoisman

30:59

Exactly. Yes, those should happen. But what are the worst mistakes that you say, no. That’s a no.

 

Matt Unger

31:08

I think the worst mistakes I’ve seen are when someone has a vision, but. And the vision does not hold itself together with the proper chemistry.

Right.

 

Matt Unger

31:21

And so. And then you’re not able to have a conversation about, I understand your vision, but if you want to do this, we won’t be able to do it this way, we’ll have to do it that way. And to be flexible enough to understand that the experts. So rely on your experts, that the experts are telling you that you can have it this way, but you can’t have it that way, literally because of physics or chemistry. Or if you want it that way, I have to do it this way. And you’re going to have this type of texture. There’s a lot of chemistry. Think about the products that you’re creating. So you’re creating, you know, typically the products of water, some of them don’t, but many do.

 

Matt Unger

32:04

And so you’re creating products that are sitting on a shelf for three years, up to three years.

 

 

Right.

 

Matt Unger

32:10

That have to be stable, that don’t go rancid, that don’t grow mold, that don’t grow bacteria. It’s amazing how safe and reliable our personal care products really are.

 

 

Right.

 

Matt Unger

32:22

better than the bread that you eat.

 

 

Right.

 

Matt Unger

32:25

Better than the vegetables.

 

 

Right.

 

Matt Unger

32:26

So just think how long that they, you know, when you have that bottle of whatever sitting on your counter, it lasts a long time. It’s amazing. It’s truly amazing. So it’s a. It’s a feat of modern chemistry that we’re able to do that and that it’s so stable and so reliable and that you can use it day after day, month after month, and. And know that it’s going to work for you. And so making sure that you work with the people, with the manufacturers that you can trust, that have the right chemists, that are the right people at the bench, that understand the chemistry they’re bringing to you. And to be open to the conversation is super important.

 

Lara Schmoisman

33:04

I think another thing that is super important is to know your brand story and who you are as a brand. Because if you’re going to be and say what, for me, it’s really important that it’s for sensitive skin, but then you are obsessed with an ingredient that is not for sensitive skin. Your brand story needs to be connected with your ingredients.

 

Matt Unger

33:28

Yes, very much.

 

Lara Schmoisman

33:30

And that’s what I see. A lot of brands fail, that they want to be something, but they are not. You need to be very consistent with your brand voice and who you are. It’s not what, I’m not telling you who I am, this is who I am. You have the ingredients that ingredients online.

 

Matt Unger

33:48

And with the choices that you’re making.

 

 

Right.

 

Matt Unger

33:51

So if you want to be all about sensitive skin, then you have to be making certain choices about not only the ingredients that are in your product, but also the ph that I want to be at. And why is ph important when it comes to skin and having the proper safety testing to substantiate safe for sensitive skin. So a lot goes into those decisions.

 

Lara Schmoisman

34:11

How a brand owner can prepare themselves, how can they learn all these things?

 

Matt Unger

34:18

I think a brand owner gets prepared by working with the right company that can take them through what essentially is a complicated journey, right?

 

Lara Schmoisman

34:28

Yes, it is.

 

Matt Unger

34:29

It really is.

 

Lara Schmoisman

34:31

As easy as it is.

 

Matt Unger

34:33

Like use us like a GPS system.

 

Lara Schmoisman

34:35

Yes, no, but as easy as it is to create the brand nowadays because we have all these amazing technologies, but at the same time, they are a complicated process and there are so many things that they’re aligned. Like to me, for example, maybe you disagree with me brand. For example, a brand deck. Who you are as a brand is something that you need to communicate to your manufacturer before you start. We all need to realign who the brand is. And then when you have the ingredients and everything, you can work on your branding, on your deck and all that. But the clarity of who your brand is, it needs to be from the very beginning.

 

Matt Unger

35:16

Absolutely agree. Yep. It’s. You have to know who you are and what you want to be about, what your vision is before you go about the journey.

 

Lara Schmoisman

35:26

So, for example, let’s play if I want to have a brand and work with you guys. And so what questions would you ask me to determine what kind of formula will create for me?

 

Matt Unger

35:38

Well, so as you think about who you are. So for instance, we have a briefing process, right? So this is not something that would be unusual or new. So we have a briefing process. There are very specific questions to really understand what it is that you’re looking for so that we can vet the idea properly and come back to you with proposals that are going to support what your vision is.

 

Lara Schmoisman

36:04

That’s awesome. But let’s talk about cost, because that’s a lot of things that people don’t understand. The cost you’re going to have the product cost. That is going to be the cost of ingredients, basically. Then you have the labor cost. Besides your packaging and all those things, how is the breakdown of.

 

Matt Unger

36:24

You have formula cost, you have a making and filling cost, you have your packaging, you have your secondary packaging, sometimes your tertiary packaging. Then you have the distribution, which sometimes can be multiple distribution points, which is where that logistics expense goes.

 

Lara Schmoisman

36:41

You might even have a label inside.

 

Matt Unger

36:44

You may have a little leaflet or label. I mean, you also may have a higher end skincare product where you want to insert a special spatula or some special implement, either as an ongoing offer or as a special giveaway.

Right?

 

Matt Unger

36:59

So there are all of these things that you have to keep in mind as you go through the process.

 

Lara Schmoisman

37:06

What about samples? Because that’s something that you always need, samples and the samples have a cost. Is the cost exactly the same as a percentage of what the big size will cost or is not?

 

Matt Unger

37:22

Sample cost is not linear, but I think samples are extremely important. So finding partners that can support you in reaching more consumers and in getting your message out there and getting trial. So trial is so important in really understanding what the product can do for me and becoming a fan of the product. So it’s super important to be able to have that supported to me.

 

Lara Schmoisman

37:50

I mean, I love samplings and I love to try products, but I just find out that those little pockets, they don’t do it for me because I use it one time and I cannot.

 

Matt Unger

37:58

See if it works or not, you don’t know. And a lot of times when it comes to skincare, you need at least a week to really decide, am I going to love this or not? Does it cause me to break out? Does it really help me with whatever I’m trying to solve? Right.

 

Matt Unger

38:11

You really need about a week, if not two weeks. Right. So I think to me, sample sizes are often, you know, just, you know, smaller versions of your package that you can really speak to and have some equity around and give consumers at least a week that they can try it and really fall in love with it. But samples ultimately are an investment. Right.

Matt Unger

38:32

Because you typically don’t get to charge too much for them.

Right?

 

Lara Schmoisman

38:36

No, you don’t get to charge probably. And that you still need to pay for the packaging. Normally they don’t have a secondary package, but sometimes they. Sometimes they do, yes. But then you need to pay also for the filling. And those costs are there.

 

Matt Unger

38:54

These tiny little.

 

Lara Schmoisman

38:56

Yes. It has a cost.

 

Matt Unger

38:58

Yes. Yep. And that’s why I’m saying it’s not linear because often, you know, when it, when you start to get into those 0.25 ounce, half ounce, tiny little packages, those have to be filled very carefully because, you know, you have to still make them look very nice. And so it’s not exactly linear. It becomes, in a way, a little bit of an investment in order to get your brand out there and get the trial with the consumers that you want to reach.

 

Lara Schmoisman

39:23

Yeah, but these are two different walls, by the way. I just want to separate them. Normally, when you send to editors or influencers, you send them the full size.

 

Matt Unger

39:33

The full size.

 

Lara Schmoisman

39:34

Full size. You cannot cheat on those.

 

Matt Unger

39:37

Yeah. The sample size is either going to be something where you have a giveaway at retail or you bought this sku, and I’m going to sample another sku. Right.

 

Matt Unger

39:48

So you’re going to get a free gift with purchase. That’s going to help you continue to.

 

Lara Schmoisman

39:53

I will call it a free sample with purchase because gift will be a full size. As a marketer, it’s always a full size.

 

Matt Unger

40:02

Gotcha. But you’re going to want to get them more into whatever franchise you’re creating. So the more you can give them and help them, the more they’re going to understand about the total franchise that you’re offering.

 

Lara Schmoisman

40:14

Before we go, I have one question for you, which I think that everyone wants to hear. What do you see, or what do you see that the most successful indie brands that you work with, what do they do to be successful? There is anything in common that they have.

 

Matt Unger

40:34

That’s a really great question and a good ending question, I think. To me, there are two key aspects to successful brands that we’ve worked with. One, they understand their consumers, they understand how to reach their consumers. But they also understand the importance of decision making and the discipline in decision making. Right. Because to be able to enhance the speed to market of any decision that you’re making is super important in this process. So to me, those are some of the, those would be two of the most important characteristics that I would highlight of successful indie emerging clients that we’re working with.

 

Lara Schmoisman

41:14

And I will add to that because I agree 100% from the marketing side. When you make a decision, you stick for the decision for a while. You don’t change your marketing plan because you give it the money again.

 

Matt Unger

41:27

And it may not be the best decision, but it was a decision so that you can keep moving forward.

 

Lara Schmoisman

41:31

Exactly. Thank you. Matt, thank you so much for having coffee with me. I so enjoyed this.

 

Matt Unger

41:38

My extreme pleasure. Always wonderful to have a conversation with you. I appreciate it.

 

Lara Schmoisman

41:42

And to you guys, I will see you next week with more Coffee Number Five. Find everything you need at laraschmoisman.com. Or in the episode notes right below. Don’t forget to subscribe. It was so good to have you here today. See you next time. Catch you on the flip side.

GUESTS

Episode 37

With Forbes Riley

Today’s guest is Forbes Riley, a TV personality, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, CEO of SpinGym, personal trainer, and coach. She never seems to stop! She tells us about her career, how her personal experience led her to develop a brand of products for people to exercise at home, and how she managed to achieve her goals in life.

Episode 97

With Kate Ahl

Lara sits down with Kate Ahl, a digital marketing specialist who helps entrepreneurs leverage the power of Pinterest to engage their audience.

Episode 9

With Patrick McGinnis

On today’s episode we have Patrick McGinnis as a guest, who is an expert in living that way. Author of the international best seller “The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job” and host of the hit podcast FOMO Sapiens

We use cookies to ensure that you receive the best experience while using our website. By continuing to view our content, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information about how we use cookies see our Privacy Policy.