The business of beauty

It takes time to acquire the knowledge, expertise and contacts to start a business to sell products on a national scale. Liz Bishop, of Scottsdale, worked for twenty years in the beauty, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries learning how to market products and manage sales teams for national brands.

She started out at Elizabeth Arden, where her father worked for 42 years, then worked for Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline and Valeant.

Bishop also worked for a start-up, but it ran out of money before they could bring their product to market. She learned something from that experience, “don’t spend money you don’t already have,” Bishop says. She then teamed up with some people from the start-up to design a product they eventually sold to Kimberly-Clark.

Bishop is putting her money and experience into the company she started in 2009, Lily.B Skincare, which she intends have in retail stores nationwide. She currently sells online and through a handful of retail outlets.

Lily.B cosmetics are aimed at women 20-35 years old. When formulating her products, Bishop asked herself, “What do women do that are post acne, into their mid-20s, but they’re not ready for the Botox or the $150 creams?” Rather than sell to older women already at the dermatologist’s office to reverse the effects of aging, she sells products that prevent some of the effects of sun and time. What does she want to tell her customers and potential customers? “Cleanse, moisturize and protect,” says Bishop. Protect with a good sunscreen or stay out of the sun.

Her products, a facial cleanser, “hydrating serum,” an eye cream, a moisturizer and a sunscreen have no colors, fragrance or chemicals. She worked with a chemist to formulate the products based on ingredients she learned about in marketing previous products.

Her strength is sales and marketing, but she knew she wanted natural products without parabens and glycols because during focus groups women said they wanted natural, healthy products.

Costco contacted her after seeing Lily.B products featured in a national magazine. To attract a younger buyer and to see if her eye cream had “national legs” Costco sold them at 20 stores in two different sales trials.

Whether Lily.B Skincare products ends up on shelves at 250 Costco stores is not yet a sure thing but Bishop has plans for national distribution in any case. She says she intends to sell on a “scale like Ulta with 450 stores, or Kohl’s, with 1200 stores. Whatever you do once, you multiply it by x-hundred, that’s the way to do it.”

To get to that scale, Bishop says she is a few weeks away from securing a celebrity endorsement for her products. Not that she told me who it is, though she says her two teenage sons are now suddenly very interested in working in the business. Bishop admitted with a laugh it is certainly not Britney, Lindsay, Gwyneth or any of the Kardashians.

Bishop has also hired a national public relations firm to tell her story out as well as a New York advertising agency to be part of the marketing effort. As big as she hopes to be, she works out of a small guest house in north Scottsdale with the trails of the Sonoran Preserve not far away.

Though she and her husband Lee, a pilot for Delta, spent many years, juggling complex travel and work schedules to raise their sons, Colton (19) and Hayden (17), she decided to base her business close to home.

Learn more about Lily.B Skincare.

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