Brand-building exec chose entrepreneurship for family reasons — and has grown 2 successful businesses

By Meg Fry
Randolph | Nov 15, 2018 at 7:05 am
From our print edition

Elizabeth Corrigan said she realized in 2005 that she alone had to change the paradigm. 

“It took my husband, Michael, and I five years to get pregnant with our twin daughters — but I was traveling the world and was never home to be with them,” Corrigan said. “One evening before Thanksgiving, I was on a business call when I saw their two little faces in the sliding door crying for me. 

“I wanted to continue working, doing what I loved and building brands through product launches and business development — but I had to take the leap into entrepreneurship to be able to work from home and be at their school events and there for them when I needed to be.” 

In doing so, Corrigan, founder and CEO of The Complete Package in Randolph, said she created a lasting business model — one she added to in 2016 when she created Prestige Testing in response to white space within her market. 

Together, her companies now earn more than $1 million in revenue each year, she said, building brands by testing and taking product ideas to market. 

“To this day, we still have some of the best beauty brands within our portfolio,” Corrigan said. 

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Corrigan said she always has worked in the health and beauty sector of consumer care. 

Upon graduating with a degree in public relations and advertising from Emerson College in 1991, Corrigan began her career with L’Oreal USA before being recruited to LVMH for the launch of its American Designer Fragrance Division.  

LVMH then promoted her to vice president of operations at blissworld in 2003, she said, where she grew the company from $30 million in sales to nearly $100 million and revolutionized the amenity industry with W Hotels and bliss branded product. 

This also was the time Corrigan said she began to grow her entrepreneurial roots, in order to spend more time with her family. 

“Fear and shame are two extraordinarily paralyzing emotions,” she said. “But, recognizing your own vulnerability gives you the strength to truly dig in and take your vision, beliefs and passions to the next levels. 

“Fear can be debilitating, but being scared or uncomfortable simply drives you. At least, it did me.” 

Though she later held executive positions with Go SMILE and Global Beauty Group, including president and chief operating officer in 2008, she said she officially made The Complete Package her full-time employment in 2010. 

“I worked on my own for nearly 18 months before hiring my first employee,” Corrigan said. “Now, I do not need to look to the left or the right if I fail or succeed — it is all on me.” 

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Her first client, Corrigan said, was her friend and mentor Marcia Kilgore, founder of Bliss Spa, Soap & Glory, FitFlop and, most recently, Beauty Pie, an online factory-direct business model that bypasses third-party sellers for subscription services. 

“She believed in me and, because of women supporting women, The Complete Package exists,” Corrigan said. 

The Complete Package uses vertical integration to provide profitable business solutions, including building brands through product development, supply chain efficiencies, packaging sourcing, operations management and multichannel retail distribution strategies.  

In addition to Kilgore, past and present clients also include bluemercury, Colgate-Palmolive, L’Oreal, Wyndham Worldwide, BeautyRx Skincare, Starwood Resorts and Go SMILE, to name a few. 

Corrigan speaks with a client in her office. ­

“Everyone who has ever known me and worked with or for me always has given me many wonderful referrals and opportunities,” Corrigan said. “I don’t advertise; I don’t go to trade shows; it really is all about word-of-mouth and my reputation.” 

As well as the deep and wide relationships her extraordinary team has helped to develop with laboratories, manufacturers, chemists, distribution centers, retailers and direct-to-consumer channels, she added. 

“I started this business from a personal growth and family need and I tend to hire women and men who also are in transitional periods that require flexible hours and work-life balance,” Corrigan said. “By doing that, I have created an incredible team of super employees.” 

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It is the “Instagram, direct-to-consumer world we live in,” however, that inspired her to found Prestige Testing in 2016, Corrigan said. 

“Everything (today) relies on product reviews and testimonials, before and after photography, consumer perception studies and more,” she said. “I was finding a lot of brands were in need of a boutique, hands-on service to create such studies, and we had the product and market experience to know which questions to ask based on a product’s ingredients, features and benefits.” 

Prestige Testing provides clients with actionable and insightful data by creating online, in-store and mall surveys, consumer perception studies, focus groups and more that ask the who, what, where and how of one’s product to ensure they get the data their study needs, randomly sampling from the target market for the correct age ranges, ethnicities, annual incomes and more. 

“We can identify what exactly is going to have an impact on the consumer experience and be able to correctly craft the protocol to get the best intel and feedback, both good and bad, which is invaluable to the process,” Corrigan said. “Most testing agencies are burn-and-churn and cut-and-dry — we bring the correct expertise and environment in which to make an emotional connection with customers, because, if a brand does not, they lose out.” 

Though Corrigan successfully created a spinoff from her core business, it is not a path she said she would recommend to other entrepreneurs. 

“Once you are an entrepreneur, there may grow false arrogance in which you may think you can figure anything out — that is not the truth,” she said. “A lot of people talk about diversifying into different sectors and disciplines, but, quite frankly, the learning curve can be steep, costly and may take your eye off the ball of which you are an expert in. 

“Continue to do what you do well and provide that service to the many brands and companies that need it.”

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The Complete Package employs six while Prestige Testing employs three, in addition to rotating freelancers. 

But, while Corrigan’s companies remain lean, they mean serious business, Corrigan said. 

“To find the experience and know-how of taking a product from conception through launch is very difficult,” she said. “That is not something one can easily hire for internally in order to get it done quickly. Startups tend to get in their own way by making all of the wrong decisions in the beginning and spending money where they shouldn’t, and midsize to large companies can get caught up in their own red tape and dysfunctional processes. 

“That’s where we come in. Things are moving at lightspeed today, and we can provide companies the accuracy and quality they need to always keep their brand front and center.”

Women in business 

Elizabeth Corrigan, founder and CEO of The Complete Package and Prestige Testing in Randolph, said she wishes there were more resources and programs for women entrepreneurs — and, if there are, they need to be better communicated through social feeds, she added. 

“I would have loved to be able to access such resources when I was funding and expanding my businesses,” Corrigan said. 

Corrigan said both her businesses may even have been eligible for such resources as low-interest loans. 

“Not only do we create jobs in the state, but also we provide opportunities for locals to come and participate in surveys, try products and receive compensation,” she said. “That works well for a lot of stay-at-home mothers, for example, who can still provide great intel and feedback for our brands.” 

Corrigan said she believes women, especially, need to help other women. 

“There are four successful women, for example, who I call upon almost every day to bounce ideas off of, to cry, to laugh, to scream, whatever it may be, because it is not easy to raise a family, take care of your aging parents, make sure you are a good friend and, while you’re at it, still take care of yourself so you can continue to take care of everyone else,” she said. “That is a tall order for a young woman today; I truly hope they recognize (we) need each other.”

Conversation Starter

Reach Elizabeth Corrigan of The Complete Package and Prestige Testing at: info@thecompletepackagellc.com or 973-532-6111.

Meg Fry | mfry@roi-nj.com | megfry3