When it comes to skincare, starting a business, and finding your passion, Rachel Sommers knows a thing or two. For this week’s blog, we’re answering your questions on all things Intoxicated!
Q. Are there any supplements you recommend for good skin? Do you recommend collagen?
A. At Intoxicated, we love and recommend a number of supplements, including collagen. Although there are mixed findings on studies relating to collagen supplements, the majority of them do conclude that after several months they can help improve skin's elasticity and overall signs of aging. Other studies have shown that collagen supplements can also help bone density which deteriorates as we age (especially women!), as well as help with joint back and knee pain. In addition to collagen supplements, we love Biotin which is great for skin, hair, and nails. It has also been known to assist in clearing up skin conditions such as Dermatitis, a variation of Eczema. Lastly, we also love prenatal vitamins which deliver a lot of excellent nutrients for skin and hair health! However, with that said, its important to note that these are just suggestions and we are not medical doctors. Please consult a doctor for help in determining what is best for you!
All three of our serums contain Niacinamide, which has been shown to enhance DNA repair, reduce signs of past damage, and renew and restore the surface of the skin. Because all of our serums feature Niacinamide, you’re going to get these incredibly beneficial properties in all of our products! However, since sun-damaged skin tends to be drier, we recommend either Snake or Snail Serum depending on your other skin concerns.
Q. If I have multiple serums, when should they be used?
A. Our serums all contain the same base ingredients of Niacinamide, Betaine & Trehalose, Hyadasine, Vitamin C + E, your skin won’t experience any irritation or breakouts from switching between our serums! This allows you to truly #PickYourPoison based on your skin needs for the day. As a general guideline, we see best results from using our Bee Serum in the morning and alternating between our Snail and Snake Serums at night. However, there’s truly not a wrong way to do it, so do whatever feels right for you!
Q. What does your skincare regimen look like?
A. I have a morning and night routine that looks like this:
- Wash my face with Kate Somerville’s Exfolikate Daily Foaming Cleanser
- Tone/chemically exfoliate with Dr. Dennis Gross’ Alpha Beta Daily Extra Strength Peel Pads
- Apply Kate Somerville’s Dermal Quench Liquid Lift + Retinol
- Apply Intoxicated Cosmetics Bee Serum
- Use our *not out yet* Antidote moisturizer
- Again wash my face with Kate Somerville’s Exfolikate Daily Foaming Cleanser
- Tone with Caudalie’s Moisturizing Toner with Rose Water
- Apply Intoxicated Cosmetics Snail Serum
- Use our *not out yet* Antidote moisturizer
Intoxicated Cosmetics + Entrepreneurship:
Q. What inspired you to launch this business?
A. I think that with starting any great business, entrepreneurs look for things that are missing from the existing marketplace. When I was just 25 years old, I had started to really see a difference in my skin in regards to aging. I was living in New York City, working a stressful and demanding job, and was going through personal difficulties, as my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Long story short, it looked like I had aged 5 years in 5 months. So, as someone new to the skincare and anti-aging game, I went to Sephora to look for an effective anti-aging and treatment serum, as I felt that I was too young to go and jump on the Botox bandwagon. When I got feedback from one of the employees there that “none of the serums actually worked”, I was shocked. So I started doing research on unusual ingredients and eventually stumbled upon Bee Venom. Once I learned about all of the amazing effects that Bee Venom could have in regards to topical application, I was fascinated, and thought to myself - if this is just Bee Venom, what other venoms are out there, and how can they be applicable to skincare? 7 years later, after tons of research and product development, I launched Intoxicated Cosmetics!
Q. What do you wish you could do back and tell your past self when you started Intoxicated?
A. Oh boy! So much. I would say to myself to not fear the long road ahead (again it took me 7 years to come out with my first line of serums!), and to focus more on work and less on my social life - especially boys! LOL! I would also have told myself to buckle up for the ups and downs that come with a start up, particularly in regards to self-doubt, and having extra thick skin. I think that a lot of people have amazing ideas but never execute them because of the fear of rejection and thoughts like “what will people say?!”. People are going to tell you no, people are going to doubt you, people that you know are going to speak ill of you, etc. - People are going to be people. But that doesn't mean that you have a bad idea! Following my heart and my path has brought me the MOST joy! Even during those tough moments. And lastly, I think I would tell my past self to enjoy the ride. No one really “makes it” overnight, and I still feel like I have a long road ahead of me. But now that I am into over a year of officially being in business, I truly cherish those little moments- like packing my first order! There is so much happiness and fun in the process, and I still to this day I have to remind myself to soak it all up and live in the moment - even though I’m nowhere near where I plan on ending up!
Q. Do you have plans to expand your products?
A. Yes, we do! Our Antidote Moisturizer will be released soon! We’re just working on the finishing touches to make sure you love it just as much as our serums. This is just the beginning for Intoxicated and we can’t wait to release even more products - keep your eye out for more venom-based serums, cleansers, toners, facemasks, and more! However, since we’re a small business and creating new products costs a hefty chunk of change, it’ll be a bit before we vastly expand our product selection. But, don’t worry - we’re working on brainstorming new product ideas on the daily and have fun swag ideas coming your way to hold you over.
Q. What does it take to start a business?
A. Get ready for this very lengthy answer because there is A LOT that goes into it!
First of all, in the infant-stages of business and entrepreneurship, you will want to have a clear plan and goal. I HIGHLY suggest writing out a business plan and really taking time to groom through it and edit it. It’s the best way to keep yourself on track, and it will give you clear goals and direction. I feel that a problem when first starting out is not knowing where to start, as it can seem like such a big task. This will help you sort out the following questions - name of your brand, your brand's mission, who you are and how consumers will differentiate between your brand and others. What makes you stand out? What products would you like to create, and in what order? From there, you will be able to have some clear goals and a good feel of what's next.
Legal Matters - this is not a fun one, but a necessary one. Lawyering up will protect you against people stealing your brand name and most importantly your ideas. The first step here is registering your business and getting an EIN number. Once you receive your EIN, I would also highly recommend getting a company debit or credit card (or both) so that you can start expensing business (and other things!) to your company. Little things like meals, your car, gas for your car, supplies, etc will add up, and part of the beauty of owning a business is that you will get major tax breaks doing this. Also look into tax breaks for being a female-owned business. Another thing too, is if you are working out of your home, you will be able to expense a percentage of square footage to your company that you use while working. Think of it this way - you can basically expense ANYTHING.
Creating a website would be the next step and buying a domain name. From there, especially if you are looking to sell your products online, signing up for a e-commerce platform such as Shopify, Clover, or Square will be necessary to keep track of sales, inventory, customers, etc. On this same note, you will have to create an Instagram, business email (you can do this through a number of platforms, and also a Facebook for business page. You will need your own personal facebook page to connect to your business Facebook (I have no idea why) but the steps are pretty simple. Also, creating a logo is huge - there are many websites out there that can connect you with graphic designers to come up with an idea for you, and they usually only cost a few hundred dollars, maybe even less.
Content - I recommend using Pinterest for cool images and vibes of your company. There is an algorithm that says every post should rotate like this: 1. lifestyle, 2. product, 3. product knowledge/informational . When you get bigger and need more specific posts, Shutterstock is a great option but it costs money. I started saving content, quotes, instagram captions, etc YEARS ago to help myself once I was ready to sell, knowing that initially I would be the only one working at my company, and there are only so many hours in a day.
Note ** I would recommend doing ALL of this before you even get into talks with a biochem company or manufacturer of any kind, depending on what your company does and/or sells. It's a good exercise to get grounded with knowing your budget and monthly business costs, what your vision is for the company, and what your next steps are.
Product Creation - It is quite difficult to not only find a good company to create your products and also to get the attention of large manufacturing companies and having them take you seriously. Many manufacturing companies, and in my case, biochemical companies, have very large MQO’s and were quite expensive to work with, especially as they are used to dealing with larger brands with huge budgets. The name of the game is finding a small to midsized company that has low minimum quantity orders. This will be probably the hardest part and there is no good way to do it other than calling around and checking people off your list. I spent the better half of a year looking for a biochem company that would fit my needs and that was affordable!
Alongside figuring out who you want to make your products, there will be the matter of bottles (again, I’m speaking to my specific industry!) Alibaba has great cheap bottles, although I do get a little hesitant when it comes to purchasing from them as many of the distributors are from China and there is a language and time barrier. I personally used a US-based bottle company that would fit my needs and lower order numbers. Also, keeping budget in mind, I ordered my bottles a full year before I went into production with my products to space out my spending.
Labels - there are rules and regulations around labeling and you must be very careful with this to be compliant with the FDA. Things like having the full ingredients on the packaging, having "manufactured for" in a certain area, no false label claims etc is very important. I know it took me a WHILE to figure this out!
Packaging - Packaging is a crucial part of selling your product and it's so important that it is done correctly. A lot of times the biochem company you choose will have connections with different packaging companies. Another way to go about packaging and labeling is using Vistaprint for stickers that you can slap on samples and different products in the early stages.
This is an obvious one, but SAVE YOUR MONEY! Again, while working on this project for over 7 years, I was also working full time and putting a lot of my money away for starting my business. It sucked at the time, but saying no to going out, expensive dinners and partying was what got me to where I am now. Your real friends will understand and support you! In the end it pays off hugely. It's all about doing what is right for you and your future!
So, this is a very brief summary of what I have found and learned over the years, and honestly there is so much more that goes into it. Keep in mind that I spent over 7 years creating Intoxicated, and although it's not the best thing to hear, there is a steep learning curve as you go. Determination and follow through are your best friends here - if I had known that it would take me (now) 8 years to get to where I am, I'm not so sure that I would have been as excited about my journey. But - the time will pass anyways, and you might as well do something you love and are passionate about. I will also say working in the industry for years (and working on Intoxicated when I got home at night) really gave me a lot of inspiration, knowledge, and feedback - talking the talk before you walk the walk is necessary in my opinion!
Q. What’s your favorite part of your job?
A. Talking with my customers and seeing their amazing results! Nothing feels better than creating a product that has changed someone's life - especially when you can give them back their confidence! I still tear up when I get a glowing review on how much I have helped someone! It seriously makes me feel like I’m doing something right and that I have found what I am meant to do in this world!
Have any other questions for us? Head over to our Instagram (@intoxicatedcosmetics) to DM us and we'll answer any questions you have!