Sooner or later (and sooner is almost always better), every growing apparel line or beauty company decides to step up their business by expanding their current brand and creating a whole new line of products. Here are some things to consider:
The Entity. If you haven’t already formed an LLC or a corporation to own intellectual property and to conduct business, then now would be a good time. It is a good idea to conduct any business through its own separate entity in order to keep its cash flow and potential liability separate and apart from your core business. It can also have beneficial tax consequences. The entity should also have an operating or shareholder agreement in place. The choice of which entity to use will vary with the situation. A professional should be consulted.
Formulate the Product Line. You will need to provide a thorough description of the products being formulated, including the details as to what is proprietary and the cost of creating any new formulas. The keys here are that you own the formulations and that they are kept secret. Even if the formulas are made by a third party, they should be works made for hire and owned by the entity. Be careful here. Just because you say something is a work for hire does not automatically make it so.
Manufacturing. After your products have been formulated, you will need a manufacturer to supply the products.
Packaging. There are two components to the packaging. You need both artwork (branding & design) and copy for the labeling, and you will need a supplier for the packaging itself. In most cases there is no need to register the product with any governmental agency; however, there are requirements for the labeling, which will depend on the type of product. Again, consult a professional.
Trademarks. You need to choose the trademarks under which to market the products. There will likely be two sets of marks: one for the house brand, and the second could be the specific product identifier. The house brand name should be registered. You may also want to register, or at least clear, the secondary names. Though you can try and do this yourself at uspto.gov, it is strongly recommended that you consult a professional.
Domain Name. In combination with the above, you should make sure that the domain name you want to use is available, and you should register it yourself. Do not let a third party put his, her or its name on the url.
Marketing. How do you plan to market, promote and/or sell the products? You will need a marketing plan, sales representatives, and a strategy for distribution.
In summary, many of your steps will dependent on the size and scope of your product launch. Every project is different, but these essential elements are always in play. Always consult with an attorney who is savvy in Intellectual Property, Business Law and Marketing, and who has had strong experience with product launches in your industry.