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Ideas to Innovation: Beauty Manufacturers Partnering with Indie Brands

“Indies are also often very ingredient-conscious and more daring in product design....They are a driving force for innovation and certainly have tremendous potential.” Enrica Monica Ancorotti, Vice President and CEO of Ancorotti Cosmetics, is clearly well-acquainted with the current generation of beauty entrepreneurs.

Photo via Ancorotti Cosmetics

I’ve been interviewing indie brand founders and covering news of the independent beauty movement for nearly a decade now; and Ancorotti’s observations about how intentionally indie brand leaders tend to be when selecting ingredients, developing products, defining their niche, and provoking innovation are spot on.

As for indie brands’ “tremendous potential,” even a short list of headline-making acquisitions from the past 10 years proves that point: La Labo (Estée Lauder, 2014); Dermalogica (Unilever, 2015); Kate Somerville (Unilever, 2015); REN (Unilever, 2015); TooFaced (Estée Lauder, 2016); IT Cosmetics (L’Oréal, 2016); EltaMD (Colgate-Palmolive, 2017); Schmidt's Naturals (Unilever, 2017); First Aid Beauty (P&G, 2018); Drunk Elephant (Shiseido, 2019); The Mane Choice (MAV Beauty Brands, 2019); Tatcha (Unilever, 2019); Cremo (Edgewell, 2020); Perricone MD (The Hut Group, 2020); Billie (Edgewell, 2021); Sol de Janiero (L’Occitane, 2021); Chantecaille (Beiersdorf, 2022); Gallinée (Shiseido, 2022); Nutrafol (Unilever, 2022); Tata Harper (Amorepacific, 2022); Aesop (L’Oréal, 2023); Mielle Organics (P&G, 2023); Dr Barbara Strum (Puig, 2024).

Independent Beauty Brands do Business Differently

Not surprisingly, other contract manufacturers that I interviewed for this article acknowledge indie brands’ scalability and potential for financial growth. As Dario Dall’Oste, Co-Owner and CEO of Necos, explains it, “they may represent time and resources paying back massively our investment because some of them have indisputable potentiality for growing quickly and rapidly achieve significant market share...


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