Formulating for other brands

As an Aromatherapist, you might have been asked to formulate a product or a product range for another brand, or it might be something you’re thinking of doing.

In the 90s I was asked to formulate a product range for a hairdressing salon in Sydney. They wanted to have a skincare brand connected to their business name. They also asked me to formulate a natural hand scrub so they could give clients a hand treatment while they were in the salon. I really enjoyed working on that project, and since then I’ve formulated many ranges for other companies large and small. 

It’s a really interesting area and opens up a lot of possibilities for Aromatherapists, as many businesses like the idea of having a product range tied to their brand. 

It’s also something I’ve been asked a lot about by other Aromatherapists, so I thought I’d share a few tips that I’ve learnt along the way. 

1. Think about why you’d like to formulate for another brand, especially when it comes to pricing. It might be something you just want to do occasionally, but if it’s something you’d like to be known for, you might price your project differently. Many years ago I was asked to create a facial oil range for a company based in New York. I knew that it would be good for my brand if I was associated with this particular project, so I reduced my usual price to make sure that I would get the job, and it paid off. The range went on to win awards and was used by celebrities and my name was connected to it. 

2. When it comes to pricing, it is difficult because you can never be certain as to how long a project like this might take and what materials you might need to purchase. So there is a bit of guesswork involved. A starting point is to look at your materials plus your time, as best you can, and then add extra on top of that for your expertise. Sometimes I’ve got this right, and sometimes a project has taken far longer than I thought it would. 

3. I’m always very clear when I send my contract out (especially if it’s for a large company) exactly what my terms and conditions are. I usually allow 3 changes to my final formula and if the company needs anything else after that, I then charge extra. I also ask for a  50% deposit before starting on any project with the balance payable at completion. 

4. Think about who will retain the intellectual property of the formula and if you need additional insurance to cover this. 

5.,Would the company allow your name to be associated with the range (some companies like to do this and others don’t). If they do, that can be an asset for your business and your name, especially if you’d like to do more formulating for other brands. 

6.:Make sure your final formula includes all necessary disclaimers etc. You may find getting some legal advice on this is worthwhile, especially for your first project.