Entrepreneurship Podcast post

Launching a Brand with Ryan Margolin

George Grombacher December 15, 2022

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Launching a Brand with Ryan Margolin

LifeBlood: We talked about launching a brand, the important variables to consider, the necessity of protecting your IP, how to know if there’s room for your idea, and how to get started, with Ryan Margolin, CEO of Professional Hair Labs, business leader, speaker and branding expert.

Listen to learn about launching a brand in a new industry!

You can learn more about Ryan at ProHairLabs.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Ryan Margolin

Episode Transcript

what’s up? This is George G. And the time is right for today’s guest struggle powerful Ryan Margolin, Ryan, are you ready to do this? I am George. Thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to the to the chat. I’m excited to have you on Ryan is the CEO of professional hair labs and international, he is an international business leader. He’s a speaker and branding expert. Right? Tell us a little about your personal life more about your work, why you do what you do?

Unknown Speaker 0:41
Well, why why we do what we do. It’s kind of a personal mission. My mother was a master hair technician, my dad was a business owner, they opened a hair replacement studio. And through years of exposure to toxic products, my mother got chemical poisoning. And ultimately, that led her to early retirement. And it transitioned the whole mission of what you know, my dad was focused on to creating a safe, effective product line for technicians and hair wares, because it was the niche industry of non surgical hair replacement. Naturally, that then allowed us to take those same principles and methodologies and apply them to a larger range of cosmetics. And we’re carrying that mission through to what is now the 27th year of the company. So that’s really what we’re focused on is just making the industry the safest place it can be and making sure that the customers we have and the customers we don’t have that come to know of us know what we stand for. And that we, we always apply the safety first model that we’ve lived by.

Unknown Speaker 1:41
Personally, I’m, you know, I’m a father of three kids. My wife is Irish, I live in Ireland, and frequently traveled back and forth to the states as we have a location there as well. So, look, it’s yeah, it’s pretty busy life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Unknown Speaker 2:01
I appreciate all that. So when we look at

Unknown Speaker 2:07
we’re walking through the store and looking at all these products on the shelf. So these beauty products cosmetic products.

Unknown Speaker 2:15
Seven years ago, 10 years ago, what what percentage were unsafe?

Unknown Speaker 2:20
Well, that’s a, that’s a really good question. So it depends on the country you look in. I mean, if you look at, you know, the EU regulations versus the US regulations, the US would be much less regulated than the EU. So a lot through a lot of testing and experiments and trials over the years, you know, certain governing bodies would deem certain ingredients to be unsafe, and then they would ban them after a certain period of time. So if you look at even the US and EU, for example, you know, there’s there’s only about as far as my knowledge goes, I could be wrong, it’s 30 Plus products that are ingredients that are banned for use in cosmetics, whereas you have over 300. So it’s no, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re detrimental to your health, it’s just means through safety and testing procedures that they’ve done, they are not confident that they’re as safe as they can be. And then over the years new ingredients are developed that would be safer for skin and much less

Unknown Speaker 3:19
much, I suppose much, much less toxic, toxic for the environment as well. So we always, we always kind of adhere to the E regulation side of things even when we’re formulating. Because we know that usually we follow those rules. No matter where we export to in the world, there will be very little trouble in the future with those ingredients.

Unknown Speaker 3:40
So it’s fascinating to be able to learn, you know, those those those numbers right there, I had no idea. So as you are, are formulating your own products, and I know that part of what you do is you also help other people who want to formulate products do that, where does a lot of that happen?

Unknown Speaker 4:01
So we decided to base our principal manufacturing facility in Ireland, in Europe, simply because it’s it’s a great place to get the supports and the networks with manufacturers to to acquire ingredients.

Unknown Speaker 4:19
We have a distribution and warehousing facility in Zephyrhills in Florida, which ultimately will longterm the manufacturing facility as well. But we made the decision to manufacture in Europe at the beginning so we could make sure that we had the processes right and the best they can be really and that we’re always adhering to our GMP requirements, which are the good manufacturing practices that comes with its own ISO start. So typically when people look to do business with manufacturers, it’s really the first thing you should be asking, you know, do they have a GMP certification which shows that they adhere to the strictest rules that are required in the end

Unknown Speaker 5:00
Free. Yeah, that makes sense. So when somebody reaches out and says, Hey Ryan, I am an entrepreneur I want to make, make a new skin cream, do you say that’s crazy, we already have enough skin cream, there’s no way that you’ll be able to break into the market. Absolutely not. Because I think the beautiful thing about the day and age we live in is that no matter whether you’re a company that’s doing hundreds of billions of dollars a year and millions of dollars a year or whether you’re a small company, or a startup that is aiming to do 100 grand a year, there is always an angle, if your product has a good USP, and with the different types of experiments that you can undertake when cost of formulating, you know, you can always manufacture a product that’s a little bit different to something in the marketplace at the moment. So if anyone was ever looking to start in that industry, I would say, don’t be afraid of it, be prepared to put in the work, but it is always possible.

Unknown Speaker 6:01
So be prepared, that was something I was really curious about and still am. It’s it’s it’s obviously, it’s gonna take hard work in the form of energy and time. But I need to have a good idea. So that unique selling proposition I need to have money. So it’s all of those things, some are more important than others. Yeah. And you know, there’s also the other side is that, you know, look, you have to accept the fact that it no matter how good your idea is, or how original it might be, the moment they’ve gained any sort of traction or popularity, there are going to be counterfeiters that come right behind it and try to knock it off and sell a subpar product with the same packaging and branding that you have. So IP protection is, is part of that preparation. And the unfortunate part about it is that it does take a little bit of money to get that right at the beginning, you could be talking three to $4,000. But it will be like hand over fist the best money I’ve ever spent. Because it’s never a problem until it’s a problem. And when it is a problem, it’s usually too late to do something about it without

Unknown Speaker 7:07
severe damage being done to your brand. I’ve seen it happen firsthand, it’s happened to ours. It’s happened to other private label clients we’ve had. And it is really the one of the key starting points I always recommend to look at when you’re undertaking before you share a single piece of information with anyone.

Unknown Speaker 7:23
You make sure you have your trademarks in place.

Unknown Speaker 7:28
Not surprising, but but somewhat shocking or startling that you’re going to all of a sudden see your product, even though it’s not your product, somebody’s actually ripped off the entire thing. That’s crazy. It is and you know what it’s when you don’t have the experience in it, it’s you can be quite unassuming in the process. You know, I remember when the first counterfeit

Unknown Speaker 7:52
listing that I saw of our brands seven years ago or six years ago came up, I was like, I felt hurt overnight, it was one listing, it was on ally Express, and I was actually quite emotional over it because it kind of challenged the core of everything that we do and why we do it. So

Unknown Speaker 8:10
realizing that we didn’t have the right protection in place that snowballed into 30 listings into 300 listings, to the point where we were losing, on average about $5 million a year in sales globally, due to counterfeits and that’s only on one product. So it you know, it doesn’t start big, but it quickly snowballs very fast unless you have the right measures in place to protect. And, look, I think that’s the key about not being afraid to ask questions, because there are people in the industry who are willing to share the information.

Unknown Speaker 8:45
It’s just you know, making sure you have the right network of people around you and ask the right questions to protect yourself. And having someone to go to in times where you don’t know what to do is always a huge benefit as well. So I would always say, you know, the three key things is, you know, make sure you plan your product, right, you know, very clearly how you want it to differ from the rest of the products in the market. And just make sure that you have the right IP strategy in place. And when I say IP strategy is really simple. I mean, just make sure my if someone were to ask me today, Hey, Ryan, where we’ll be the key countries that I would focus on

Unknown Speaker 9:19
trademarking your brand, or your product before you start, and I would say US, European Union and China. And once you get those three out of the way, you’re Yeah, you’re protected pretty well to start with. Got it? Okay, that was that was what I was curious about is what is the enforcement mechanism? So in order for me to if,

Unknown Speaker 9:42
if somebody in the European Union is is ripping my product off and selling it, but I’ve trademarked it there, I can contact the authorities in the European Union and they will help me to stop that. Yeah, there’s a few different aspects you can do. I mean, there’s kind of as a border patrol, which is

Unknown Speaker 10:00
As you know, if if somebody from let’s say China tries to export their product into your product into Europe, and you know the if they catch it at a customs they will seize it, it’s most times are a little bit more clever than that it’s highly unlikely they’ll usually send it in unbranded, and you’ll have someone inside of the country upon receiving that will bring the bottle or the packaging up. But the other side of it is just having a good trademark attorney that really gives you almost like a coating, sorry, a cookie cutter template that you can roll out very easily to let people know, hey, I’m watching. Here’s the cease and desist letter, if you don’t stop right now, you know, we will enforce our trademark rights, what we find is that most people do ignore that first letter. So the unfortunate part about it is, is when you get to that point where somebody’s copywriting, you or sorry, copy

Unknown Speaker 10:49
when they’re infringing on your trademark, it’s usually at the point where your business is doing enough revenue to, to enforce it.

Unknown Speaker 10:56
Got it.

Unknown Speaker 10:58
So, you go through the entire exercise of creating something from scratch, and then making it successful. And now I need to spend all my energy fighting the people who are trying to rip me off. Yeah, that’s, that’s about rice, you know, I mean, the, when you get past the emotional part of it, I think, you know, you can you can find the, the, it’s kind of,

Unknown Speaker 11:21
it’s more like a compliment that you have something they’re worth, you know, worth ripping off. But it never Yeah, it’s never really that simple. At the beginning, you kind of have to train yourself to to look at it from a perspective of Look, these are people who do this to make a quick dollar beauty business is a huge business, very profitable, if you have a big brand.

Unknown Speaker 11:41
But, you know, look, this is just part of their business. And just as much as it’s part of your business, it’s your job to stop them. And it’s about learning enough to know where to go and how quickly to move in order to enforce.

Unknown Speaker 11:54
When when you think about

Unknown Speaker 11:57
beauty entrepreneurs, and somebody is thinking to themselves

Unknown Speaker 12:06
I really want to create my own line, I have my selling proposition versus I’m an entrepreneurial person may be beauty is something that that that I should get into what do you need to understand some of the questions I’m asking? Oh, absolutely. You know, and I do think there’s, you know, principles of general entrepreneur who has the ability to move in any direction, you know, in any industry that they want to and apply the same knowledge that they have to learn more about the chosen industry. In fact, what you’ll find is that a lot of the older bigger beauty distributors, they would have history of the industry, but more so now than ever, we’re seeing a lot of the private label clients will work with, you know, starting new brands coming out of you know, Fine, let’s say they were in finance for years, and they decided, look, I’m done with this, I don’t you know, they were working in a bank or in some other endeavor or some some other aspects of the industry, and then they turn to they say, I really have a passion for beauty and I want to start a beauty brand. And I’ve seen them be hugely successful. You know, we have quite a lot of private label clients who have come from all sorts of different backgrounds that have that have really created a successful brand. And really what it all comes down to is that, you know, we live in a day and age where social media is key, you know, they just leveraged the platform’s right and they get you know, exposure for the brand, they make zero to no money in year one. In fact, if you know they usually pump all their savings into it and have a loss in year one. But what happens is, is they’re building up their customer list and you know, once once you have that direct point of contact to actually offer something of value to your previous customers, if they’ve chosen to buy from you to try the product then you start to build a very viable business then you start to leverage the likes of Amazon or you know, dare I say eBay who is not really my preferred platform at all it’s it’s a minefield, but you know, look that there’s means and ways to be really clever you know, and we we’ve you know, we’ve done that in the past and and it’s really helped us build our own customer list you know, look it’s data protection is everything and you know, you’re you’re provided with a certain amount of data when you when you acquire a customer even if it’s on a third party platform, but if you really think about it, there are means and ways to convert that customer even if you don’t have their contact details, you just have to think a little bit outside the box on how to reach them and that it is possible.

Unknown Speaker 14:33
So that is one of the keys is I need to have an email list of my customers. These are people that are already obviously aware of the brand because they purchased from me. Yeah, exactly. And you know, there was even times you know, you can make it really enticing you know, I love the self liquidating offer at the SLO you know, where you you offer a free product, you know, with

Unknown Speaker 15:00
with shipping charged, and that basically liquidate your your cost of product and shipping. And then you know, customer gets a free product, you have an email address and a direct point of contact. So you just have to be prepared to to, you know, to grind it out for a little while, in order to build a viable email list. I mean, if you’ve got a product that you know, is right, you can make that happen, you know, you can make it happen. I don’t think there’s the beauty industry is such a huge industry, that there’s room for so many more brands and people, I mean, they’re popping up all the time. And, you know, the ones who remain the longest, are the ones who continue to innovate. And if you’re not a manufacturer, you really want to make sure you do pair with a manufacturer that does like to push the boundaries of innovation, because then they can offer you new solutions, that maybe you haven’t thought of yourself, you know, and that’s the beauty about having off the shelf formulations. You know, you have the manufacturer such as ourselves doing all, you know, the trials and testing, and we have the base formula there, and slight adjustments can then be made, and you have a viable product to push into your line with very little

Unknown Speaker 16:07
investment, then, you know, because all of the testing and the development has been done, essentially for you.

Unknown Speaker 16:13
What’s a great example of a,

Unknown Speaker 16:16
um, in terms of a product, yeah, if I already have an existing and then yeah, so I’ll tell you something that that we’ve launched to the market, well, we’re launching to the market at the moment is a bee venom serum. So basically what it does is that is it provides the effects of Botox without, you know, getting Botox. So the serum itself has a has a small amount of bee venom, which is acquired through, you know, friendly sources, there’s no there’s no animal harming whatsoever. And that was actually challenging enough in itself, you know, to try to find

Unknown Speaker 16:56
farms that would you know, that that would be able to extract this venom without without harming the you know, the beat. So, we develop that product. And we have the ability to make a lot of small little adjustments that different from brand to brand. But the moment we reached out to certain customers and was like, listen, we have this product here, it’s, it’s very good, they acquired some samples to test it. And that’s how that happens, you know, and we can then take that the beauty about it is is then we can then take what’s a 12 week custom formulation process for the customer, if they approach us for something new, we can bring that down to four weeks, because we have the product already there, the only thing we need to do is figure out what packaging and fulfillment plan that we need for it. And you know, that’s predicated around quantity. So

Unknown Speaker 17:43
there’s a lot of ways to make things happen in the beauty game, especially around manufacturing. And it really depends on what the customer wants in the end.

Unknown Speaker 17:52
So many different things to think about. And consider, I hadn’t really thought about the packaging, but that has to be that’s such a huge thing. Obviously, we all are familiar with certain products that like my iPhone comes in this amazing packaging versus some other products. So he’s

Unknown Speaker 18:11
experienced, and that’s what it comes down to, you know, you have some brands that, you know, they want cheap and cheerful, and they want to push large volumes. And then you have more premium brand brands that are willing to sacrifice the volume for a better experience. And, you know, they might sell a little bit less, but there might be a little bit more profit margin in it. So look, there’s a lot of different ways to make it happen.

Unknown Speaker 18:33
And this is all part of the process. Is that part of the process you help people through also? Yes, so one of the key things that I am very focused on is making sure that whether you’re somebody new coming into the industry, or whether you you have years of experience, that we are literally a one stop shop, if you want us to come in and make products for you and supply them with your labels on it, and we’ll send it out to you no problem. But if you really want to dig deep and build a brand from scratch, we can also do that in house for you as well. You know, we have a really good, really, really solid level of resource internally to make that happen, whichever way you want it to work. So it doesn’t matter what’s needed, we can help and I think one of the things that really where where beauty brands get caught is that they don’t really have the support or they’re not given the knowledge of where to go to to make sure their products are not only compliant, but that they can register them correctly. We also do that in house as well as a service so you’re literally getting a product delivered to you if you want that that is ready to go and meets all compliance requirements.

Unknown Speaker 19:42
Love it.

Unknown Speaker 19:43
All right, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage for for entrepreneurs out there would be entrepreneurs who are interested in learning more about what we’ve been talking about how do we do that?

Unknown Speaker 19:55
So look, my hang out is LinkedIn I can be connected with on there at

Unknown Speaker 20:00
anytime our website is pro hair labs.com so that that gives kind of more information about our services. And you know we’re on all other social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok. So you just do a quick search for us and you’ll find this. Love it. If you enjoyed as much as I did, she’ll run your appreciation and share today share with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, go to pro hair labs.com and find Ryan on LinkedIn. It’s Ryan Margolin, Ma, RG O L I N. I’ll link all of those in the notes of the show. Thanks again, Ryan. Thanks, George. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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