Once upon a time, an independent beauty brand becoming a household name was a fairytale. But the category has since seen a spike in popularity, increasing in sales by 43% last year. With digital advances and the rise of relevant media players, indie beauty brands can expect a rosier future.

Though barriers to enter the independent beauty sector have significantly decreased over the years, brands still face multiple obstacles. Two examples of these are the lack of a hero product and the lack of visual appeal. Without a hero, or core product, to buoy a brand, the path to recognition becomes much more difficult, as observed in Gartner L2’s Indie Index. Without visual appeal, brands aren’t able to shine on social media. As a result, they end up missing out on pivotal vlogger mentions and partnerships, which not only generate direct traffic to their sites, but can also catapult them into broader recognition and increase the likelihood of getting picked up by major retailers like Sephora and Ulta. Skincare brands particularly lack visual appeal; as a result, they are forced to rely on research-based forums like Reddit or leave it to chance and hope that social media influencers might fall in love with individual products.

A platform called Indie Beauty Media Group might have a way around these issues. This week, the group launched a matchmaking tool called Uplink for beauty brands that connects them with services and vendors across six major aspects, including manufacturing and production, public relations and influencers, and distribution and sales. Usually, an independent beauty brand must meet a set of requirements before it can even get onto the radar of certain retailers or influencers. Uplink might help them take the guesswork out of connecting with suitable partners and even out the playing field when it comes to gaining recognition.

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