By - Alina Fridman
Celebrity makeup artist Melanie Mills is one of Hollywood’s leading makeup and beauty experts with over 20 years on Hollywood sets. She is most known for her work at Nickelodeon, Dancing With The Stars and The Real Daytime. She is also a professional makeup educator doing one on ones in her makeup studio or touring the country or world with her classes. Melanie is the founder & CEO of Melanie Mills Hollywood Cosmetics and published Author of “Glitter & Glam”.
Melanie Mills Hollywood started off with the Iconic Gleam Face & Body Radiance which is a makeup, moisturizer & glow all in one in 6 stunning shades. This iconic must have product is a game changer! Multi purpose as it’s for both face & body and Multi cultural as there is a shade for every skin tone yet all 6 shades work wonderfully on all skin tones offering 6 different end results. Referred to as liquid pantyhose this product is a must if wearing a skirt and shorts! This product is what launched Melanie Mills Hollywood and now the brand has expanded to over 25 sku’s and building! The line is unique as all products are developed & designed by Melanie herself. Tested on celebrity’s & made by a pro for pros but also with the everyday woman in mind, making sure ingredients are high quality and the products are easy to use & multi purpose with all skin tones in mind!
I had a Q&A session with Melanie about how she built her brand. Here's what I learned:
You've accomplished so much within your career and industry including multiple Emmy nominations and a win for best makeup on Dancing With the Stars. How did you get to where you are today?
It’s been ladders after ladders of climbing to be honest! With my makeup career I first interned on a film that I was referred to by a friend of a friend. That films main hairstylist then took me on to assist on several Indy low budget films which then blossomed into me later running the makeup for a bunch of these Indy films which then blossomed into becoming a union make up artist. Becoming a union Makeup Artist was another ladder to climb as it’s not just about how good you are in this business but who you know. I went from one project to the next until I landed Dancing With The Stars which became the springboard for the idea of starting my cosmetic company! I still work the Hollywood sets while running my company... it’s exhilarating!!!
I love the story of how Gleam Face & Body Radiance was created. Can you talk about that?
While running the makeup for Dancing With The Stars I saw there was a need for a multi purpose body makeup that not only made skin flawless , hydrated & glowing with multiple shade offerings to choose from but also needing to be transfer resistant. Out of frustration I mixed up a magic cream that is now called Gleam Face & Body Radiance! When I started to see a demand for it from celebrities wanting the product and driving out to my house for it I decided. To take it to a lab and go for launching a brand!
As the head of a company, you have a lot of decisions to make about your brand. We've all made good and bad decision, what are some of the best and worst decisions you've made with your brand?
The best decision was just doing it! I think that if I would’ve known what it entailed with being a boutique cosmetic CEO and founder I’m not sure I would’ve jumped in headfirst. Thank God I actually designed a product that was unique that became iconic that got through the big trends after being knocked off by everybody. But it’s definitely not easy. Another great decision I made with Melanie Mills Hollywood was my first collaboration with Sonjdra Deluxe a famous influencer definitely helped launch me into the millennial trend setting world. I also focused on the pro makeup community as that is where my roots come from and I needed to prove to the pro community that they could rely on my products which then translated to the every day woman.
The worst decisions that I’ve made throughout Melanie Mills Hollywood‘s history is hiring wrong people and then keeping them on too long when you know they just aren’t right or are not doing the job they should be doing I’ve wasted a lot of time and money in this area. Also I think in the beginning I boxed myself in by naming my brand Gleam by Melanie Mills as that was the products name, not the brand name and originally calling it Gleam Body Radiance as it is a multipurpose face & body product. My packaging has had its ups and downs too. However I love where I’m at today!
If you had to start over from scratch, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
I would’ve started off with my brand name as Melanie Mills Hollywood rather than having to rebrand and re-launch. I also would have thought a bit more about my packaging outside of a Pro makeup artist mentality . I would’ve titled my first SKU Gleam face and body radiance versus boxing it in with just Gleam body radiance. I also wouldn’t of spent as much money on PR in the very beginning and on launch parties and instead of hiring friends that really weren’t qualified, I would have hired people with cosmetic backgrounds, business backgrounds and accounting backgrounds. I never had a strategy or a business plan either. I would of started off with that for sure too.
Failing forward is the ability to get back up after you've been knocked down. With all of the challenges you've had in the beginning when launching your product, you've managed to navigate your way through.
I feel most of the life of my business has been failing forward as I really did not have a business background, marketing background , accounting background etc. I was just a really good make up artist with big dreams. I just was kind of winging it really based on what I was kind of seeing around me with other like cosmetic companies or products. I’ve learned that most people and other vendors and other companies are constantly selling them self to you so what may seem so fabulous and grand really needs to be vetted properly. I think with all the expensive mistakes and stumbles I’ve made along the way is the fact that I’m still standing within a very saturated market is a huge accomplishment and continues to motivate me.
What advice would you give someone starting out their own beauty brand?
First if you’re going to start a brand make sure you have a story behind your brand and behind your products. Second make sure that you either have great knowledge of accounting or that you really hire somebody that knows your facet of business not every bookkeeper or accountant is great for the genre that you’re in. Have a budget and a strategy.
Get registrations or trademarks in place and spend time on packaging and formulas. Know where you want to be showcased what type of retail you want to be in and based on where you think you want to be make sure that you price your SKUs accordingly. One big first mistake I see with a lot of young brands is they think oh this cost’s five dollars so I’ll charge 10 and make five but you have to take into account all the things that go into running a business -staffing, website, office maintenance , shipping, warehousing, PR etc. Along with if you’re going to do retail consider wholesale pricing and then if you’re going to do distribution distribution pricing. Everybody gets their cut -a lot of people undercut themselves with lower pricing.
Make sure you surround yourself with inspiring and motivating people. Often people that don’t do much in their life but the basics are there in that spot because of a lack of self motivation, focus and drive. Make sure you surround yourself with people of leadership and people that live quality lives! Love yourself and take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of others and other business.
Who inspires you?
Honestly my husband is my biggest rock. He is my partner, my soulmate, and my best friend. This Guy is always happy. He has such a positive outlook towards life and so whenever I get down or in a funk I know I can always rely on him to pull me out of it. Then there is my daughter as almost everything I do is for her and I know that I need to keep motivated in order for her to keep motivated. At the end of the day if it’s super rough, I always have to remind myself that the sun will rise tomorrow. Most problems that seem super huge really do end up getting worked out.
To purchase product at Melanie Mills Hollywood visit her website:
Follow Melanie Mills & Melanie Mills Hollywood:
Instagram: @melaniemillsmua and @gleam_melaniemills