Exclusive interview

DSM eager to partner with indie beauty brands

DSM technical manager Luciana Uttemburge (image courtesy of the company)

“Every day we discuss indie beauty,” Parand Salmassinia, VP of DSM personal care in North America, told Cosmetics Design earlier this summer in a conversation about how the cosmetic and personal care ingredient maker plans to partner with and support independent beauty brands.

Indie beauty has grown to become a competitive reality in the industry; and at least for now there seems to be an endless supply of new brands, innovations, and entrepreneurs. “Indie beauty is shaping the future of industry,” Salmassinia tells Cosmetics Design.

Organizing for indie

Indie beauty professionals now account for 10% of the membership of Cosmetic Executive Women. A statistic that led CEW to launch an Indie Advisory Group early this year, comprising 20+ top-level cosmetics and personal care industry leaders from all facets of the business. The IAG is meant to provide “a network of cross industry experts for indie brands to easily access to help foster growth in their businesses,” according to a press release about the new initiative.

Parand Salmassinia, VP of DSM personal care in North America and CEW member, is one such expert. Through her role with the indie advisory group she “expects to inspire the next generation of cosmetic innovators,” as a company spokesperson explained it to Cosmetics Design.

“I like what CEW is doing,” says Salmassinia “They're really trying to support indie, drawing on subject matter experts all along the supply chain.” Other pros in the IAG include Lisa Price of Carol’s Daughter, Kristen Conneen of QVC, Vennette Ho of Financo, Cathy Beaupain of Dermstore, and Jose Filipe of Albéa.

Identifying with indie

Asked to define indie beauty, Salmassinia replies, “It's in their name. The brands are independent of any format or thing…and independent of trends. They make their own trends.” The founders, she believes, know their brands inside and out; they “just need science and tech to realize their vision.”

Which is where DSM hopes to come in. Salmassinia describes DSM as “an upstream beauty innovation company” and affectionately suggests that the company initialism stands for “Doing Something Meaningful” rather than for Dutch State Mines (which harkens back to the company’s beginnings in coal over a century ago). 

The company not only creates ingredients, DSM also offers an array of support services, ranging from market intelligence to R&D, and from formulations support to storytelling and concept creation.

Innovating with indie

DSM’s corporate clients tend to buy raw materials. But the services that the company is offering beauty entrepreneurs are quite different. Salmassinia wants brand founders to “see DSM as a tech partner to speed indie innovation.”

She recognizes that “indie brands sometimes find larger (tech) companies intimidating,”  and goes on to emphasize that she and the team of sales, tech, and marketing pros at DSM are “sensitive to smaller brands,…accessible, and approachable.”

The company has already helped several indie brands get to market swiftly and whether it’s through her role on the CEW Indie Advisory Group or as vice president of DSM personal care in North America, Salmassinia is eager to do more of the same.

 

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