Indie brands Made in USA

Indie Brands in five rules


By definition, funded by their founders, Indie brands are independent.  As for startups, their force comes from the constraints that occur from the foundation of the company to the commercial success. For instance, they face financial and technical limitations. This aspect of frugality makes them smarter and resourceful, as they are forced to find innovative ways to meet their needs. As for startups, the bootstrapping approach gives them an opportunity to break the codes of the traditional beauty industry. They only count on themselves only to address millennials requirements with alternative products.


Indie brands are purpose-driven : they are initially founded with the mission to meet the specific needs of a community. Their authenticity is due the passion of the founder(s) or a cause they want to defend. That defines the brand. Story telling is key for these new actors of the beauty industry, providing a real marketing advantage by resonating deeply with their targeted audience.


Indie Brands are fundamentally user-centered. Therefore, design thinking is key for them to offer the best product on the market, which is obviously the products that their target are craving for. Very close to their customers, they listen carefully to them. Combining small series and functionality, Indie Brands products are close to craftwork. Some of them work their product quality and identity so far, they legitimately assert a premium positioning on the market.


Evolving with their niche markets, they offer small batches. They produce smaller numbers  of products, giving their brand a more exclusive quality. These startups force pack or formula suppliers to rethink their processes in order to produce small series, but also to improve their creativity, transparency and agility… as well as adjusting the right price.


Non-traditional Marketing is definitely the key characteristic of Indie Brands! Because they dare. Because they cut the traditional pathway from brands to users. They do not really compete with larger brands, they succeed in making innovative use of emerging platforms, content marketing and social media to reach their audience. They understand very well how what digital marketing calls qualified leads to communicate in cheap, fast and efficient digital ways. These new tools offer amazing possibilities of interactions, forms, participation and referral.


Indie brands are creating a market revolution


Young entrepreneurs are literally hacking the traditional corporate path. They also lower barriers to designing, manufacturing and distributing their own products. The most innovative brands are now emerging in fashion, accessories, consumables and lifestyle products embody these qualities. The beauty sector has never been so intense. New entrepreneurs are taking on the cosmetic industry : they change the rules and do not follow the example of big corporation way of doing business. Every aspect of the cosmetic offer is being reinvented, and this seduces consumers a lot. Especially because people all over the world are looking new, innovative, fun and genuine products and concepts. Wether it is ultra oriented on environment, vegan and/or organic, or it is based on a rogue mindset, it has to be exciting.


The US market is leading the trend

With an estimated turnover of Bn$ 82,5 in 2018, and an annual growth of 2,2% per year between 2018 and 2021, North America remains the first market of the cosmetic industry. While the US is leading the trend of Indie Brands, we expect other markets to experience it. Especially in countries where innovation and entrepreneurship are favoured. For the moment, one big news was the launch of a specific e-retail platform dedicated to Indie Brands by Amazon. Etsy also presents some brands with this specific label. In Holland, we already see more and more Indie Brands markets (, and German Indie Brands have been existing for a long time, even at the scale of neighborhood. Besides American bran ds like Milk

Makeup, Glossier, Kate Von D, Asian brands are appearing, such as Pony Effect in South Korea.


Mainly in make-up but not only


For the last decade, Indie Brands have been developing. Lots of them offer make up products such as Sugarpill with vibrant, innovative makeup products, Morphe Brushes with brushes and color cosmetic palettes, Melt Cosmetics offering vibrant, creamy matte lipsticks, Violet Voss or of course Make Up Geek founded by Marlena Stell. Beautycounter is a skincare brand launched 2013 through direct sales through more than 25 000 consultants in North America, online or through strategic partnerships. Beautycounter wants to offer luxury and sophisticated safe products, while fighting for a better cosmetic industry.

Going beyond beauty, Daniel and Michael Broukhim with Katie Rosen Kitchens founded FabFitFun in 2010 to encourage women to live a healthier life. The brand offers a lifestyle box containing various products such as for beauty, fashion, wellness, fitness, house or technology purpose. Beauty is intimately linked to wellness and generally considered as a consequence of a healthy lifestyle.


For more information on the impact of USA cosmetic brands in the cosmetic industry, visit the Cosmetic 360 exhibition, 16-17 October 2019 in Paris.


Photo by on Unsplash


The Cosmetic 360 Team.