Turning the beauty industry upside down

Starting a new beauty company traditionally occurs by one of two ways.

      1. The company founder(s) have a career in the beauty industry, be that as a beautician, formularist, beauty retail, or some type of career job which has ties with the beauty industry. Using their insider-knowledge, they can then gather any other skilled people they require, to develop a range of beauty products.
      2. The company founder is a celebrity wanting to leverage her enormous popularity by employing marketing and beauty industry experts, to create a global beauty brand. There are many famous women that have been very successful doing just this. Here a just a few women you may recognise :

Being a career-IT male, and not being particularly famous, you could say I came from the other side of the tracks. Many well meaning people told me you cannot start a company with no industry experience or no million+ Internet followers. But I took a unique approach to ensuring Forbidden Beauty would have a great point of difference. Firstly, I set about studying the current plethora of beauty websites (in particular the successful and well designed ones), looking at the things they were doing well. The first observation I made was that many of the celebrity websites had the word Beauty in the name. I wanted a name with a touch of mystique (giving the feeling that you are missing out on something fantastic), so the name Forbidden Beauty was born.

Next, I wanted to focus on what I thought all these beauty industry experts, and famous people, where missing when developing beauty products. Input from the real experts! All the women that buy and use beauty products, and tap into the vast experience they have in how a product should look, the ingredients it ideally would have, and the feel when it is applied on the skin. I hoped these focus groups would be able to explain what the felt was missing from the skincare and beauty products they were currently using.

I categorised each group meeting on a particular topic so as to ensure we stayed focused on the particular improvement we were trying to address. Here are  bullet points showing each focus group meeting topic and the outcomes achieved, and how :

  • Branding

This focus group covered the look of the products, the packaging and the environmental friendliness. All attendees explained that the labels need to be crisp and clean, with no cluttering. They wanted to see larger white gaps between the wording so as to give the product a crisp clean look. They all liked the idea of all products have very little, or no plastics. Another good suggestion was to have no throw-away packaging. Several of the ladies discussed the hygiene factor of putting your finger into the moisturiser – this was also annoying when users have long fingernails.

From this branding group came the ideas of :

  1. All skincare products are in glass jars with bamboo lids. The beauty products packaging is cardboard.
  2. The skincare products come in cotton drawstring bags. No unnecessary cardboard packaging. Gift sets have a larger bag also.
  3. Labels are clean with white gaps between the required wording blocks. Ingredients are very small (unavoidable) but can also be easily obtained from our website.
  4. Every skincare product comes with a metal applicator spatula. A small hook ensures it stays with the product when not in use.
  • Ingredients

This focus group comprised of two meetups. Initially I wanted to hear what the ladies liked, and disliked, with the skincare products they were currently using. Also, what ingredients they would like to be included in a new skincare product. From this information I researched and then in the second meetup presented what I felt could be included to address all their desires. These attendees surprised me with their in-depth knowledge of ingredients and why they are desired in skincare products.

From this Ingredients group came from the following :

  1. Ingredients displayed on the label to be clear, orderly, and also duplicated on to the website (with reason why they are included).
  2. Hyaluronic Acid – A universal must include for all skincare moisturisers. So I did.  😎
  3. Vitamin C – Not just any Vitamin-C, like many other products. It needs to be a high-end Vitamin-C – So I used Vitamin-C derived from Kakadu Plum, which contains the world’s highest concentration of Vitamin-C of any fruit.
  4. Preservative – The group asked for one of the top, and most expensive preservatives around … so I obliged. I don’t regret using such a great preservative – very important.
  5. NZ botanics – We all thought it would be important, and beneficial, to include some NZ-derived botanics. This gives a good point of difference and also adds to the healthy properties of the creams. We included Manuka Leaf extract (much more powerful than Manuka honey) and Mamaku.
  • Fragrance

I prepared for this focus group by purchasing many small bottles of fragrance oils and fragrance blends. I also purchased small disposable cotton pads which I soaked with each fragrance and named. I then prepared a voting sheet with each fragrance so I could record the feedback results and ascertain the most popular fragrances. This was a busy session with many cups of coffee to help reduce the sensory overload we all experienced. There was a clear winner which we have standardised for every women’s skincare moisturiser. It is a complex fragrance with many notes which comprise rich vanilla, amber, musk, sandalwood and a few other secrets. It is a subtle fragrance (I learned that women don’t use moisturiser to smell nice – but need the fragrance to reach over the earth tones).

  • Website

An easy-to-use and navigate website which has straightforward shopping with no nasty surprises on checkout ( has all shipping and taxes included in all product prices displayed). The ladies wanted beauty related articles of relevance and also the ingredients clearly displayed. They also requested I use realistic photo images (realistic women) and product photos that are not retouched.

My summary of this HUGE exercise

Forbidden Beauty would not be what it has become without the invaluable input of New Zealand women, just like you. The depth of useful information I obtained from these numerous focus groups was nothing short of game changing. This unique approach has really turned the beauty industry upside down. It is now our job to make all New Zealand and Australian ladies discover why Forbidden Beauty is so special and worth to be included in your skin care routine.


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