Finding the Ideal Manufacturer for Your Beauty Business

Leila Larsen, Silly Lips founder and president, gives tips to emerging brands on selecting the right manufacturer.

By Leila Larsen

Entrepreneurs have many elements to consider when choosing the perfect manufacturer for their beauty products. For my business, I look for a manufacturer that has a proven track record, location in Florida (near my company) and the ability to provide me with a consistent product to protect the quality of my brand.

I prefer my product manufacturer to be in the U.S. because I know that that the ingredients being used are safe. Although a manufacturer oversees would probably be less expensive, it gives me peace of mind knowing I am in control of the quality of my product. To save on cost, businesses can also consider doing labels or packaging overseas, but they also have to consider buying them in mass quantities. All of these major decisions vary depending on the needs of the company.

My manufacturing decisions might not be right for every business owner, but there are some basics that up and coming entrepreneurs should recognize before choosing a manufacturer. Learning from my mistakes has given me a better understanding of what to look for and allowed me to produce 5 key tips to manufacturing success.

1. Find an FDA regulated manufacturer with strict guidelines. This shows that the company takes the necessary steps to ensure that vendors are approved prior to using their products. Safety for the end-user should be the most important goal.

2. Quality assurance and control are also factors to consider. A manufacturer that has high standards for quality assurance and control will not only be a key money-saver for your company, but will also protect your brand integrity. In the past, I have experienced issues where the consistency of my product was lacking. Of course the manufacturer will take back any product that “slipped” by quality control, but it takes more time and money to fix these problems than to just get it right the first time. I only blame myself for not doing more research on the company. From colors and ingredients to packaging, quality should always be a priority.

3. Send samples to the manufacturer and make sure they match with your specifications. Doing so will illustrate your expectations and allow you to confirm that the manufacturer has experience dealing with your type of product.

4. Check into the company’s capabilities before you make your decision. One day you’re going to make it big, so make sure the manufacturer can accommodate you as a startup and as a well-established company with high-volume orders. A good way to do this is to ask for minimum order numbers and maximum capabilities.

5. Ask to see the facility. The location and facility a company uses can tell you a lot about its operations. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to find a manufacturer close by, but it will be a huge help with communication and quick decision-making. Try to visit the facility so you know what kind of company you are dealing with. If you can't visit, ask for a video tour of the facility with an explanation of how your product will be assembled. This is more important with international manufacturers and insures that you aren't receiving a random, generic video. There should not be any reason that they couldn't do this for you with the commonality of technology. Move on if a company is not willing to give you a tour. Someone else will be happy to have your business.

About the Author: Leila Larsen is founder and president of Silly Lips, a lip gloss/lip balm company. She can be reached at . For more information see