Personalizing Your Potions

Private Practice

Collaborating with local formulators is a lovely way to put a signature stamp on your spa’s offerings, but there are also plenty of reputable private-label manufacturers available to help custom-create your own extended line. DAYSPA recently chatted with some of the top private-labelers in the industry about what they have to offer, and what day spas should consider when shopping for a suitable private-label partner:

DAYSPA: What are the top reasons spa owners might consider going this route?
Mary Swaab, owner of Colorlab Cosmetics: Today’s business model is about exclusivity—consumers increasingly seek opportunities to express their individuality. Your own brand, tailored to your niche market, gives your spa a great competitive advantage.

Barbara Panagos, owner of Brush Up with Barbara/Mineral Mine: Customers are more likely to have faith in a product brand—any brand—that your spa endorses. It’s seen as an original creation of the founder.

Karen Bock, owner of Brushes by Karen and Colorstrokes Cosmetics:
Typically, it’s much less expensive compared to branded lines, and the minimum-order requirements are drastically lower. Private-label lines also force customer loyalty—when your clients fall in love with your products, they can only reorder them from you. With a branded line, they can find it online in the middle of the night!

Debbie Fitzpatrick, president of Botanical Science Technologies: Having great product out there being used by consumers is an integral part of establishing your brand.

Liz Beresford, CEO, Vitelle Labs:
We get a lot of business from savvy professionals who noticed they weren’t getting quite the right results with their current brands, or wanted to follow certain trends or accommodate clients with very specific skincare preferences. You can really work with a private-label manufacturer to achieve particular results.

Cheryl Marcus, director of product development, Grafton: It is not only prestigious to have your own brand but also economically important—private-label markup can range from 500% to 800%.

What should a spa owner look for in a private-label partner?
Beresford: Variety, to give your spa room to grow. We have clients who carry three different lines from us, but their guests would never know, because all feature completely different formulations and packaging.

Bock: Spa owners should do their research and contact several companies. Compare minimums, customer service and product ingredients, and research each company’s ingredients.

When you get started, make sure you know your startup costs. There are often different pricing levels, turnaround times and costs for unprinted goods, as well as printed goods. The beauty is, most companies will let you start small and grow your line in time.

Fitzpatrick: Look for logo design and printing assistance. Spa owners should also know that some support provided for ‘free’ by branded lines, such as training and literature, may not be available or free from a private-label supplier. That’s because branded line unit costs already reflect these marketing efforts..

Gretchen Austom Chevalier, VP of operations, Columbia Cosmetics: Find someone who follows and incorporates the ever-changing trends (paraben-free products, for example). It’s also advisable to work with an over-the-counter (OTC) licensed manufacturer, as it will be able to provide the SPF products that today’s clients demand.

Brenda Gallagher, director of national sales, Your Name Cosmetics: Be sure to look into display options. Attractive merchandising is key to proper sell-through! Also, make sure they offer seasonal launches that are current with trends in the market.

What are the best ways to sell private-label products?
Panagos: Know that you are the brand you offer—at that point the term ‘private label’ no longer applies. You’ll need to support, market and advertise this brand the same as any other.

Fitzpatrick: The ultimate buy-in comes from use. Your staff must become knowledgeable and familiar with the products. They should try them and use them in the back bar. Everyone at your spa must be able to answer questions and provide samples.

Beresford: Since the markup with private-label products is lower, you can pay a higher commission on them—this is a great way to build staff support of this line.

Gallagher: Include a small branded item—a day cream, eye cream or lip gloss—as a take-home gift when clients receive one of your signature services.


Botanical Science Technologies, 800.668.7546
Brushes By Karen, 800.722.0528
Brush Up with Barbara, 800.338.1423
Colorlab Cosmetics, 800.790.2417
Colorstrokes Cosmetics, 800.722.0528
Columbia Cosmetics, 800.824.3328
Cosmetic Solutions, 888.883.0540
Grafton Cosmetics, 800.662.5387
Lady Burd Cosmetics, 800.345.3448
Mineral Mine Cosmetics, 800.338.1423
Vitelle Labs, 877.902.2332
Your Name Cosmetics, 800.221.3071

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