Reader Question

13 Feb

“I’m about to lose it. I’ve been looking for a site like yours EVERYWHERE. I think the clouds opened up and you came down. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what just happened.

I read in one of your posts that the most expensive manufacturing component is the actual cases that hold the makeup. I am young – 22 years old – and looking to start my own cosmetic line with a niche clientele. The problem is the innovative part of my line is the custom design of the palettes.

Do you know any companies that offer cheap custom design? Or in what other areas should I keep costs low in order to be able to afford nice palettes?

Thanks so much! You’re AHmazing!

It’s been a great start to the year, I’m getting lots of reader questions and comments, and just generally lots of wonderful emails thanking me for creating this blog. I suppose it just never occurred to me that this kind of information would generate so much interest among all you budding entrepreneurs, and I’m genuinely honoured you take the time out to read, digest and to comment. And hopefully, to finally take that first step to creating your very own brand!


OK now, back to the question at hand. Custom designing your own plastic components takes a lot of time and a lot of financial resources. There is just no two ways around it, and there is no short cut. In my 10 years in the business, thinking of all sorts of ingenious ways of reducing costs (when I first started the business, and then as the economic crisis hit & I decided the company needed to be more lean), I have never come across any manufacturer (small ones, large ones, artisans working from home, from the UK to USA, from China to Malaysia to India), who could customize a component without huge tooling costs. The smallest tooling cost we ever paid was for a single lipstick mould, and that was USD 1200. An average quote is $8000. I can think of far better ways of using that sort of money, especially when you’re starting out. You could purchase an entire starter range from a private label company to sell & generate you income!


OK, now the good news. You mentioned wanting to customize palettes. The one way we were able to fully design our own palettes was to have them made out of paperboard (or chipboard as some call it). We could have as many cavities as we wanted, with the option of having a mirror in any size we wanted, in any artwork, or covered in any material, with a multitude of closure options (magnetic, with ribbons, elastic, buckle, button, etc…). Don’t expect to purchase them in small qtys though (2000 pcs & above per design, and you really need to negotiate for this qty), and bear in mind paperboard components are generally more expensive (20 – 40% more) than their plastic counterparts. You would be looking at an investment of perhaps $2000 – $3000. A few paperboard manufacturers we’ve worked with before in the past (all based in China, I don’t know of any UK- or US-based manufacturers who will negotiate on small qtys at small prices) are Shantou Huajian Paper Production and Cass & Co (absolutely beautiful palettes & boxes, but more expensive than Shantou).




3 Responses to “Reader Question”

  1. Alex February 14, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    Thanks so much for your reply! This definitely helped. I’m going to have to rework my design. It’s such an integral part of what I want to do, but I think I can still find a way to make it work!

    • susanchyi February 15, 2012 at 12:48 am #

      Hi Alex,

      Best of luck in your research, I hope you come up with something amazing (and within budget!). Thanks for the great question by the way. If & when I come across a tooling company worth talking about, I will post it as an add-on.

      xx Susan.

  2. Ashley September 13, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    You mentioned that you started out with private label products and repackaged them–that is exactly what I have been trying to do. Can you please create a post on that. I would love if you could talk about labeling restrictions and the process by which you changed the packaging–I’m really eager to know!!

    Thanks Soo Much

    Ash L

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