For businesses that serve the fashion world, flexibility tends to be the key to success. Hence, it is one of the tools that Jonathan Rosenbaum, CEO of Nu World Beauty, uses to steer his company toward profitability. It is also the manner in which he began the company.
It was 1991, and the country was in the midst of a recession. Twenty-four-year-old Rosenbaum felt pulled in different directions as he worked as a procurer and subcontractor liaison for wet N wild cosmetics. His grandfather wanted him to join the pigmentation manufacturing business he had founded. His father, a lawyer, wanted him to pursue a law career, too. But Rosenbaum had his own plan.
“I was working at wet N wild cosmetics, and we subcontracted a lot of services,” Rosenbaum says. “I handled that part of the business, and I had trouble getting the things we needed. I saw there was a need for subcontractors.” Those services Rosenbaum missed are now what Nu World provides. The company offers product development and manufacturing services to its beauty product clients who may choose one or both of the services for a turnkey solution.
With a 12,000-square-foot facility and two filling lines, Rosenbaum and founding partner and current President Stu Dolleck formed Nu World as a subcontractor in the nail enamel business. In 1991, nail polish was on the tips of every woman’s fingers, but as fashion changed, painted nails became passé. “We were in nails when we started, and we had a good run, but then it basically died,” he says. “We had to take our capabilities in nail polish and use them for other products.”
In 1995, Nu World added color cosmetics to its repertoire, and creams and lotion followed in the early 2000s. In 2009, nail polish made a comeback, bringing Nu World to its old stomping grounds. In fact, the company successfully revamped and re-launched the former high-end nail polish brand Hard Candy, now sold exclusively at Walmart. Rosenbaum says that Nu World has found a new revenue stream in renewing old brands.
However, even with the return of nail polish, Nu World remains alert to other trends. “After nail polish declined, I decided I didn’t want to be focused on one area,” he says. “Knowing that the cosmetics industry is very fickle and cyclical, I wanted to be in a position to react.”
Walking the Walk
Of course, the ability to catch trends doesn’t mean much if you can’t back it with real results. Nu World is focused on driving customer quality. Its product development division conducts research, creates formulas for products and sources ingredients globally to provide quality and variety in its products. It also spots market innovations to make sure clients’ products are at the leading-edge. Nu-World’s creative development and merchandising teams design dynamic in-store and external marketing.
All products are manufactured and packaged at Nu World’s 110,000-square-foot, SA 8000-certified facility in Carteret, N.J. An in-house quality-control lab enforces batch consistency and ensures products are FDA and GMP compliant. Whether the client needs an in-house or in-store solution, Nu World can provide turnkey services. “There are some clients that rely on us for complete innovation, and some clients that basically bring in the specifications. It depends,” Rosenbaum says.
He says a “whatever the client wants” philosophy has allowed his business to flourish in an ever-changing field. “We can go from conception to having the product on shelves in five months,” he points out. “We’re a manufacturer so we make everything here. Also, our marketing department, our art department and our sales is here.” With the bulk of operations headquartered in one space, Nu World’s divisions can work closely, resulting in better communication between employees and with clients.
On the Front Lines
Instead of customer service representatives acting as liaisons, Nu World’s production planners and account managers are on the front lines of the development and manufacturing processes, quickly and honestly communicating with clients. Whether it’s good or bad news, clients are made aware of progress at each phase. This management style has earned Nu World the good graces of many clients – clients that helped the company expand from its early days in the nail enamel business. Rosenbaum himself still handles a couple of accounts he has managed since the company’s beginning, such as Sally Beauty Supply.
With business coming from all angles – L’Oreal, Revlon, Victoria’s Secret and Walmart, to name a few – Nu World is expanding to keep up with the growing demand. It is adding 25,000 square feet to its Carteret facility to accommodate more manufacturing space. Meanwhile, its warehouse facility in Newark, N.J., is increasing from 32,000 to 47,000 square feet. “Our biggest problem is we never say ‘no’ to a customer,” Rosenbaum says. “We haven’t turned away business and it’s starting to hurt us. Our warehouses are totally full, and we’re running on Saturday and Sunday to fill our orders. It’s a good problem to have, but it can’t continue, and the expansion will help with that.”