Four years in a row (from 2006 to 2009), Topline Products was acknowledged as being one of the 50 best performing companies in New Jersey. And last year Charles Chang decided to extend the influence of his company to Europe by opening an office in Paris.
Premium Beauty News - If we look into the story of Topline, we end up understanding that you anticipated what appears today as being one of the biggest shifts of the beauty industry worldwide, namely the strategy of beauty brands in having almost completely recourse to subcontractors.
Charles Chang - True, I very quickly had the feeling that perfumery and cosmetics brands would more frequently resort to this type of sub-contracting.
This was in the nature of things. Because the first vocation of these companies is to create concepts, products, promote them and market them. If they can find an efficient organization allowing them to reduce constraints related to production and logistics. Why should they do without?
A pioneer, yes! We were as of early 1980s, one of the first few companies in the world to work with orient in the cosmetic packaging containers. In the mid-1990s, we were the pioneer of introducing quality filled cosmetics from China to the US market.
Premium Beauty News - What has changed over the last few years is that this range of services has even coupled with an offer in terms of complete standard lines, including formulations.
Charles Chang - Absolutely! And this is what has propelled us to where we are today. A company able to perform a complete full service offer with a true creative vocation. May I remind you that we own more than 25 patents in the United States and worldwide.
Premium Beauty News - Some of your product innovations have helped you build your reputation.
Charles Chang - That’s right! We even received prestigious awards. I can name the "Dual Hinged Compact", a Topline patented product adopted by L’Oreal, but also the Infaillible Lipstick tube/ Lip Gloss duo also designed for L’Oreal, Max Factor Loose Powder Jar with Brush for P&G, not to mention the French Manicure Pen for Sephora.
And we are also proud of being the first full service supplier for Estée Lauder with the supply of a complete make-up palette made in China in 2003.
Premium Beauty News - To achieve this you need an industrial tool?
Charles Chang - The tool itself is not enough! You must focus on performance each time. Innovation springs from, both the development of our formulations, or of course, from packaging and distribution systems.
As for the industrial tool, it is sizeable. As of 1995, we opened our first 100% owned factory in Shanghai, now specialized in metal processing, which manufactures, among others products, the eyelash curler for Maybeline, Cover Girl and Max Factor, not to mention metal compacts.
Also in 1998, we integrated the production of cosmetic ingredients. We are now able to make complete line of colour cosmetics.
In 2000, we added a new production unit, this time dedicated to plastic injection, which now has no fewer than 150 presses, not to mention all the finishing material to manufacture indifferently, compacts, closures, jars, lipstick tubes lipgloss etc... It operates with some 1,500 people. In 2002 we opened a third facility dedicated to brushes and powder puffs.
And today we can produce everything, or so.
Premium Beauty News - Your customers were mostly Americans?
Charles Chang - At the beginning, yes essentially! But things have changed considerably in recent years. Firstly, the companies in the beauty industry have become global companies. We can no longer say that such and such group is now American, English or French ... Factories are everywhere, as are marketing teams and the demand has become global too. Our customers operate all around the world, and their names are L’Oreal, Avon, Estée Lauder, Lancôme, Sephora, Mary Kay, P&G, Inter Parfums, etc.
Insofar as our offer also includes quality standards asked for by these same brands, they turn to us.
This explains why we had to open last year, a European base in Paris, headed by Jean-Robert Bonneil, who has an experience of more than 15 years in our sector and has a very good knowledge of the market and its European operators.
Our presence in Europe is, of course, fully justified because on the one hand our customers are global and operating here, on the other hand Europe remains the largest market in the world for beauty.
The growing acceptability of the made in China full service by European consumers has confirmed our choice to tap into this market.
Furthermore, Topline has a unique expertise covering both packaging and product