Now anyone anywhere can create cosmetics with Cosmepolitan’s global OEM database
Singapore-based startup Cosmepolitan wants a world where anyone from any country can easily produce cosmetics of their own design at low cost and with high quality. In order to achieve this, they’ve built up a network of factories in various locations — particularly in South Korea, Japan, and China. They’re aiming for a future where cosmetics can be created completely online.
Pretty much anyone is able to launch a small lot-sized cosmetics brand in South Korea. This is thanks to the many supporting companies such as OEM (original design manufacturer)s that meet the needs of people looking to start a brand. Even students can get in on the action with the right idea and a little funding. Once started, it’s a matter of building up your brand by watching how the market reacts to it and brushing up your products little by little.
However, in reality, launching a cosmetics brand also involves managing production by individually negotiating with a variety of companies. There are usually different OEMs and companies for handling R&D, ingredients production, packaging, and distribution. In South Korea, some OEMs take care of most of these roles, but there are also individual brokers. In Japan, Saticine Medical is known as an OEM specializing in supporting D2C brands, and they handle not only manufacturing but also R&D functions and other forms of support. However, in most cases, it’s the brand founders who have to go through the process of gathering information and negotiating themselves. The information required is also not summarized in one place either.
One company, through building a global database of cosmetics manufacturing-related companies and factories, is helping founders create new cosmetics brands just over the internet and from any country or region, regardless of the founder’s budget, deadline, vision, or what country they want to produce in. This company is the startup Cosmepolitan, which was launched in Singapore in January this year.
As long as the founder has an idea as to what brand they want to create, Cosmepolitan will calculate the optimum combination of companies to do business with. Currently, on their site, you can answer a set of questions and staff members will present several propositions, such as what OEM or packaging company are most appropriate, and will support the founder up until commercialization.
Cosmepolitan’s amalgamated data includes factories in over 1,000 locations, particularly in South Korea, Japan, and China. 132 of those companies comply with the cGMP regulations as prescribed by the US’s FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and 143 companies have the ISO22716 certification. Data on cosmetics products (name, category, ingredients) in different markets have also been collected independently, totaling over 80,000 data entries. This is for founders to conduct comparative investigations with what’s already on the market.
Cosmepolitan Pte. Ltd.’s founder and CEO Yoon Mijoung explains that “although there are so many container manufacturers in Japan, China and South Korea, the labeling, outer package designing and printing for those containers each need to be done by different companies. On top of this, the specifications and the number of lots have different requirements depending on each factory’s equipment and scale. In the end, a lot of work is needed to coordinate between companies while keeping everything under control. Cosmepolitan removes all that work.”
Yoon is originally from South Korea and previously worked for a robot engineering team at Samsung Electronics before starting her own company where she supported the legal affairs and marketing for overseas firms expanding into South Korea. This along with the growing desire in South Korea — since the 2014 cosmetics industry boom — to start up your own cosmetics brand (a desire also prevalent in North America and Southeast Asia) is what led to the founding of Cosmepolitan.
Yoon says that “South Korea, Japan, and China have a lot of outstanding cosmetics-related manufacturers, and I wanted to network these companies to expand their services to a global level”. With this, she says, it becomes possible to manufacture products across multiple countries — for example, ingredients researched and developed in South Korea can be used in products made in Japan.
In September this year, Yoon’s company launched a beta version of a service called c/o (“see-slash-oh”). This is a cloud ordering system that allows manufacturing within 1,000 smallest-sized lots and a cost of US$3,000. This is targeting brand founders who are looking to produce with small lots and at low cost and who may want to try test marketing.
c/o has seen the approval and participation of South Korea’s largest cosmetics ODM, Cosmax, as well as a major cosmetics manufacturing factory in Japan and a large container manufacturing company in China. Soon also a US factory and a Malaysian cosmetics factory with halal certification are scheduled to join.
c/o is the first step towards CEO Yoon’s vision of “realizing an environment where anyone around the world can create cosmetics within a short period, across small lots, with low cost and with satisfying quality”. In the near future, Cosmepolitan’s objective is to build a system where brand founders can select the best elements from global cosmetics manufacturers as per their original concept and even freely design the containers and outer packing in 3D.
Text: Ching Li Tor
Original Text (Japanese): Kikuko Yano