Rise of the Indie Brands

Everyone wants a piece of the indie pie. Millennials are very different from past generations in many ways, including having a different mindset of entering corporate America. They are giving up the 9-5 work life opting for entrepreneurship and pursuing the dream of creating their own businesses. Customer loyalty and exposure of a brand are very easy to acquire compared to past years thanks to social media and the support of communities and their local government. One would think companies would see these indie brands as competition and fight to buy out those businesses, but they are taking a different approach. Why fight little competition and be labeled as a shark among consumers while you can support these brands in their growth while setting a positive representation with business owners and customers.

This is a growing trend seen by retail business and should be adopted within beauty supply stores. Let’s take a look at two retail business who are adopting these practices and a beauty supply store who saw this potential and is now reaping positive benefits.

It is no surprise Target is seeing how beneficial this practice is to their business. This retail company has been transforming the mindset of a typical retail department store proving to be consistent competition with Walmart, even beauty supplies stores with the expansion of beauty products. A new phase of supporting individual brands is underway now catering to the beauty market called Target Takeoff. This program serves as a “mini retail boot camp,” said by the company, to take entrepreneurs and their business through courses to enhance their pitching and business knowledge while getting expert critics on their products. The program will end with a chance to pitch their business plan to Target execs. With this program, Target will eventually put these indie brands in their stores, first discovering their products and taking advantage of exclusivity and income.

Target wasn’t the first to support individual brands. Ulta, a beauty superstore, is known for supporting individual bands and building them to become the giants they are today. Online boutique beauty stores, like Tarte, Urban Decay and Anastasia Beverly Hills, all branched first in Ulta making their products accessible in stores. Though never adopting Target’s boot camp training, Ulta used their business as a hub for smaller brands with millions of lovers to sell their products in store thus bringing in a boost of sells for both companies. Morphe is the latest brand to be sold in Ulta, which has been an online success thanks to beauty blogger collaborations and affordable pricing.

Target isn’t much as competition to Ulta as they cater to the indie world in different ways, but that doesn’t mean more retail giants aren’t coming for their idea. Amazon has announced the creation of a beauty shop solely selling indie brands. Urban Decay and Morphe can hold off on their Amazon expansion plans as they are not selling products that are available in Ulta and other retail stores. Through this shop, Amazon will take authority over the independent market as businesses will see much more growth in them than Ulta. Amazon has been competition for retail brand stores since it opened and now they are taking extra steps to become a sole retail giant for consumers.

After discussing between indie brands and retail department stores, it’s evident beauty supply stores need to take the same approach. Partnerships between beauty supply stores and independent brands have worked in the past with multiple brands, like Shea Moisture gaining traction of success by the support of beauty supply stores. Beauty supply stores should take away at least 50% of brands being sold in stores and offer that space to indie brands.

After this suggestion, we know what you’re thinking, how can beauty supply stores compete with companies on a larger scale? There is advantage beauty supply stores have that these giants don’t and it’s the reason why individual brands are so popular. Community loyalty and engagement. Bella Crown located in Clinton, MD recognized this advantage and has launched a partnership with a local indie brand, Destination Beauty, carrying their products in their stores. Store owner Monica Johng saw the potential in Destination Beauty’s founder, LaTeisha Graham, and decided to bring her products into the store. “One benefit of beauty supply store support is taking my products that were only sold online and bringing them into the community,” said Graham. “I come into Bella Crown twice-a-week and introduce my products to customers, which is something that can’t be done in retail stores. The support from Monica has been amazing and I send everyone I know to Bella Crown because they truly support and care about us.”

The traditional buy and sell and no interaction with customers is a phase of the past with beauty supply stores and owners starting to recognize it. It’s about customer interaction and connecting with the African American market and community. By supporting their products, you’ll see just how you can get a piece of the pie and expand something bigger: your customer’s loyalty.