Start the week with a startup: Genie Supply

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

Cox said the company's future goals revolve around developing new sustainable and zero-waste packaging and ecosystems for clients, and swapping as many ingredients as possible with sustainable upcycled counterparts (Image: Getty)
Cox said the company's future goals revolve around developing new sustainable and zero-waste packaging and ecosystems for clients, and swapping as many ingredients as possible with sustainable upcycled counterparts (Image: Getty)

Related tags start-ups Manufacturing Cosmetics Formulation Supply chain Sustainability Personal care circular beauty

Every fortnight we talk to a game-changer startup business about why it exists and how it plans to transform the industry. This week we spoke to CEO of Genie Supply, Megan Cox, about how her private label business model could be the future of beauty product manufacturing.

US-based startup Genie Supply is a clean beauty and sustainability-focused private label beauty lab that's designed to help entrepreneurs create their own smaller-batch beauty products and brands. The business is aiming to disrupt the manufacturing landscape for a more inclusive, responsible and innovative beauty industry.

How Genie Supply is changing the game…

Genie Supply is a beauty lab for entrepreneurs. We specifically work with beauty entrepreneurs to help them start, scale and craft their brands. Our services fall within the scope of product ideation and development, testing, and manufacturing. We work within clean beauty and its many intersectionality – focusing on emerging categories and sustainability.

How we started…

I was a beauty entrepreneur myself, so I know the pains of starting up. I started my own self-funded brand, Amalie Beauty, in 2013. Through the process of creating and growing my brand, I ran into myriad challenges, especially on the manufacturing end. At the time my small brand was growing and evolving, I noticed that the entire beauty landscape was fragmenting and evolving at an equal speed. Yet, I knew from my own experience that the solutions beauty founders so desperately needed simply did not exist in the US.

Complex problem-solving is my hobby, and business optimisation was my degree, so I knew it was time for me to switch sides. In 2018, I sold my brand and opened our lab, Genie Supply.

The challenges we’ve faced so far...

Everything about running a manufacturing facility is challenging! Product development is incredibly rewarding, but if one is not extremely careful with the details of documentation and testing, the best-laid manufacturing plans will be foiled during scale-up.

Although I had experience creating and manufacturing simple natural formulations, I did not yet know the full extent of the challenges that lay beyond in more complex skin, hair, and colour cosmetics formulations. I am extremely hands-on with learning and always dive very deep. Many manufacturing facility owners I speak with regularly do not have even five per cent of the knowledge or experience I've gained on the formulating and testing side. I also will not teach a subject until I've mastered it myself. Our team has become extremely strong in development and scale-up, even if it took us five slow and steady years to get here.

How we will disrupt the industry…

Gone are the days of just ‘throw something together and sell it at a low price point and high volume’. Customers care increasingly about the details of the formulation, its ingredients and their derivation and manufacture, the ethics of the manufacturers and teams behind the products and the sustainability of the entire beauty ecosystem.

As the market fragments, smaller and smaller batches are required to meet the exact needs of niche customer bases. Because of this, we will see serious turnover from manufacturers that traditionally were able to thrive on high volume and low quality. Either they will scale down manufacturing and increase attention to formulating details with labs like ours or not. I truly believe, based on my analysis of the market, that the beauty lab of the future looks just like ours: thoughtful, attentive, sustainable, ethical, and conscious.

Trends being seen for the future of our sector...

Upcycled ingredients, recycled/infinitely recyclable or biodegradable packaging, fill-your-own from local stores, a continuation of innovation in the hybrid colour/makeup space, and more exploration into augmented reality for makeup for more sustainable and accurate try-before-you-buy, to reduce waste.

As greenwashing becomes regulated and consumers set boundaries about what they will and won't accept for brands in Western countries, I expect a butterfly effect in other markets, which means eventually large players will need to get with the times or fold their cards. Many of the ingredients used in major brands now are not sustainable or biodegradable, or even healthy for consumers to use on a daily basis, and it’s only a matter of time before they find out.

I'm often asked about customisable beauty, but I am not convinced that the immediate future includes customised makeup/skincare on-demand, as I've seen this model play out many times, and worked on it myself from 2012-2015, and it contains many, many challenges and requires many compromises on the consumers' part.

Future goals for the business...

We've worked with over 500 beauty brands to date, and one of our biggest accomplishments includes creating our own PCR packaging, when there really weren't any mainstream options before.

We also only use ingredients that can be easily biodegraded or captured by in-place water filtration systems.

In the future, our goals revolve around developing new sustainable and zero-waste packaging and ecosystems for clients, as well as swapping as many ingredients as possible with their sustainable upcycled counterparts.

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