From scrubs to moisturizers, balms to skin creams, the beauty space sees countless brands appear and disappear. This should come as no surprise because the industry offers so much choice yet so little true differentiation. Last year, Beauty Editor at Marie Claire magazine Jennifer Goldstein pointed out that skincare companies look to the color cosmetics industry for different trends.
But what about trends that are more of a movement? According to BeautyStat.com, individual needs and values now drive purchases and loyalties. Small Business Trends connected with Josh Wadinski of Plantioxidants to get his thoughts on that point and the steps he took to make sure he wasn’t creating a “me too” brand.
With a disruptive approach to luxury skincare, Wadinski is a lifelong environmentalist and clean living advocate who has worked at Fortune 100 companies building domestic and global-level strategies. As he began learning about the beauty industry and the importance of healthy skincare, he quickly realized the options available for truly natural products were severely limited and inauthentic. Because he was an outsider, it was easy for him to see many current practices for what they really are — facades. Pairing his international experience and creative thinking with his eco-conscious views and refined design style, Wadinski launched Plantioxidants in 2016 to create beauty products bridging the gap between luxury, health and sustainability.
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Small Business Trends: How did you make sure your business idea wasn’t already taken?
Josh Wadinski: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) was my best friend when figuring out if my idea for Plantioxidants was already taken through patents or trademarks. I researched past patents and thoroughly scrubbed all trademarks. What I learned is, you’re not prevented from getting your trademark if you find similar trademarks, however, there is a grace period when you won’t know if patents or trademarks have been completed. That’s typically what law firms can help with, and I found there are plenty of quality, affordable legal options for startups. For example, Rocket Lawyer and my personal favorite LegalForce. They gave me plenty of time without billing at first.
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Small Business Trends: And you checked domains too?
Josh Wadinski: I absolutely checked domains. WHOIS is the database I used. It lets you know if websites are in use. Others like GoDaddy and Google Domains were limited in their reach and information. If someone has taken an amazing domain you love but let’s say they only use it for email, you can try to push them to give it up.
Small Business Trends: Which are the toughest challenges in running a business in your niche?
Josh Wadinski: Outside of SPF and “acne” specific products, skincare and cosmetics as categories within the beauty industry are like the Wild West! There is nearly no regulation, and so companies do what they want without much penalty. The unfortunate reality in the U.S. is that consumers actually drive more change in terms of regulation than state or federal policies do. For example, brands sometimes only change if consumers demand vegan beauty, paraben-free beauty or cruelty-free products. This means that countless brands don’t create products based on what research shows is safe or unsafe, but rather on media and consumer trends! Big tobacco is a great example. I wrote about that topic on the Plantioxidants site. Beauty brands are a dime a dozen. I didn’t want to start a company that would fall into the abyss of brands that provide little nutritional value to consumers. In turn, I self-regulated.
Small Business Trends: That’s something you don’t hear often. What are some options for self-regulation? To the small business owner who hears the phrase “self-regulation” and immediately gets concerned about loss of money and time, what do you say to him or her?
Josh Wadinski: I created Plantioxidants to make a change in the beauty industry, to help shift it towards what consumers deserve, even if regulation is not in place. If your industry isn’t regulated, always self-regulate. I set out to create what is “right” and what is “good” when I started the brand, and so Plantioxidants is very intentionally certified USDA organic. Several options were looked at, but from all measures, USDA organic had the tightest standards when considering the question of “what are the safest, cleanest ingredients we can use in our skincare?”
Small Business Trends: Do you have other tips for a new small business trying to stand out?
Josh Wadinski: I believe the most important part of any product is the entire product. In beauty, this means not only thinking about the ingredients and formula, but also the bottles, the outerboxes, the shipping boxes, etc. The environmental footprint of the Plantioxidants brand is as small as possible. There’s continuous effort to make sure of this. I haven’t implemented a standard for self-regulation, but my minimum goal, which we have almost completely hit, is a closed loop so that our packaging used today can also be used as our packaging for tomorrow. I have bigger hopes for this, including hiring a chief sustainability officer. The “Lifecycle of Beauty” refers to how important it is to consider the entire purchase process you experience as a consumer.
Images: Ashleigh Reddy