Hey my name is Taleesha and I have a passion for creating a makeup line. I know i would have to find a chemist and i don’t really know how to go about doing that. I know exactly what kind of makeup i would like to create but i think it starts with this. Can anyone give me any pointers ?
There are a couple of things that any entrepreneur should keep in mind when developing a new product. The first is that there is a difference between an “invention” and a “formulation”. A process to make a particular formulation may be patentable. The second is understanding that to retain any intellectual property rights to an invention of any kind, you must be the inventor, or the actual employer of the person making the invention (independent contractors retain all rights not specifically granted to a client by a contract).
If you just have an “idea” with no understanding of the basic requirements, then you are not really in a good position for either the development of the idea, or especially, a business plan. For example, you may have the “idea” that a more effective, and more environmentally safe cleaner would have a good market. But if you don't really know how current cleaners work, or how different chemical compounds interact, then you can't really develop that idea any further. Asking for help is fine, but asking for the realization of your idea from someone else is not likely to happen.
“Consultants” add value to you when they are providing you with very specific information or capabilities for a limited time on a well-defined objective. If you need “employees” you need to use a different approach to hiring. An employee may need some background in chemistry to run your production process. A consultant will tell you how to improve your process. In both cases, you need some basic “process” that exists (at least conceptually). Otherwise, it will simply be the consultant's idea, invention, or business.
You may have the necessary business management knowledge and experience to operate a business, but just need that “niche” product, patent work-around, or novel application to get it rolling. You will also need the necessary capital and/or financing to make that work. In that case a consultant may be able to help. In the early stages, my own consulting value is in helping budding entrepreneurs to understand the complexity and pitfalls in the chemical industry and related downstream products. You may need assistance with a basic business plan or market survey before you can even decide if there really is a viable market for your idea or product. Finding the critical knowledge gaps in your basic idea will help you to identify what or who you will need to help you to achieve your goals.
Finally, before a consultant can even decide if he can help you (whether you agree or not), they will need to know many more specifics about your proposal. If you are afraid that discussing the details will “reveal” your secret for misappropriation, you either know enough already so that you don't need a consultant, or you really don't know nearly enough to have a viable proposal with any interest to a professional consultant. Outline your basic premise, and identify precisely what “expert” knowledge you need to complete your process.
Some additional resources for small chemical businesses may be found at the American Chemical Society Division of Small Chemical Businesses: http://acs-schb.org/resources/
Other organizations in which to find a specific chemical consultant are:
Chemical Consultants Network: http://www.chemconsultants.org/
The ASSOCIATION OF CONSULTING CHEMISTS AND CHEMICAL ENGINEERS: http://chemconsult.org/
You might also be interested in several Coursera online courses (free!) in starting a business.
I'm glad that you liked Steven's advice-- it's pretty good for starting a business.
Making cosmetics and selling them are two different things. If you already have a recipe and know how to make it, you may not need www.makingcosmetics.com. This website has standard, well-known, proven recipes for making all kinds of cosmetics. If you sell stuff that you've made by using (or tweaking) these recipes, no one will say "Cease and desist! I've got a patent on this!". You are allowed to make recipes like this. Maybelline and Procter & Gamble will only say "Yeah, we make something similar." Why would a website give away such good stuff? Because if you're making, you probably have to buy ingredients and you'd be interested in the ads. Or the Health Department or Food and Drug Administration has sent you a form asking if you use any lead or arsenic in your cosmetics; you don't of course but how do you fill out this kind of form? Consultants run ads too on this site. You probably don't need consultants yet, but do look at the ads from people who make ingredients.
All of a sudden we're on the selling side of the cosmetics business. Maybe you've made a few batches and sold your product at fairs and markets and want to know if you should have a store, or find someone who will sell your products to department store cosmetics counters. This is a good time to track down local members of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, www.scconline.org. It's all people who work in the industry and share your interests. They know about starting out in business and getting jobs, and they tend to be good, warm-hearted people. You can get a lot of good advice even if it's too early for you to sign up as a member; they've been there. If your business really takes off and you are feeling like Helena Rubenstein or Mme. CJ Walker, then you might want your business to join the trade association where all the cosmetics companies get together. For cosmetics, that would be Personal Care Products Council, www.personalcarecouncil.org. Don't join up until you make your first sale to Macy's, it's expensive! But you can look now to see what they do.
Wow! Thanks for the extended information specific to cosmetics developers! That's not my area, so I try to refer requests to more knowledgable people while deferring direct engagement. I get many requests similar to this (about 2-3/month) and can't do too much beyond the basic business considerations (which many need in any case). So, if you don't mind, I'd like to keep your note - with attribution to your contribution - as an addendum to my original "standard reply" for future inquiries.
I suspect that Taleesha and Guyu may have got into cosmetics as a high school project and each said "Y'know, I could do this forever!" Happened to a girl in Hudson, Ohio-- she made a good product, heavy on the scent, and her high school friends liked it. She did Avon-style parties for them and their parents in their living rooms and now runs a shop called Gwendolyn Elizabeth. Actually her mother runs it; she's the money. Gwen is the weekend chemist and after-school spokesperson. I hope there may be a Taleesha and a Guyu in our future too…
I used to make high tech chemicals and ceramic ingredients for Union Carbide. Every application for our products had its own community and we used to ask how the people got together for that application. Some were very business-like: IMAPS, the semiconductor packaging people, were all about logistics and thermal management. The cosmetics people were loud, brash, had fun, and when you looked at the materials science it was very good (they'd all worked for some New Jersey pharma giant first, and that was also a crowd). We got to like SCC very much, and also the Society of Textile Colorists and Dyers. They brought their families to every show and would be distressed if you didn't remember a son or a daughter. It's not just ACS at work here (you can find ACS!) but the specialized communities too.
Ugh ! I love the encouragement and I’m praying it works out. I would love to be like Gwen and make things happen. I knew it was a lot more to it than just wanting to create makeup. I’m so glad i found this website. I haven’t really had anyone to get pointers from and you guys are great !
Glad you liked Gwen's story, Taleesha. I really hope things work out well for you as they are for her.
But I have to apologize for the stuff about where I worked and how we found the specialized communities-- Steven asked me a question about that and I meant to reply directly to him. Thanks for taking it nicely.