Not too long ago, my friend Tatiahna was kind enough to share with me how she started her own make-up biz. We did a mini-makeover session and she was kind enough to offer some products for our giveaway. She answered my many questions which I’ll break down into two different posts.
Enjoy the show!
Circus of Humanity: How does one suddenly decide to start her own makeup company? Why not just be a makeup artist?
Au-She: There was really nothing sudden about it. For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with beauty products. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother’s shiny black alligator makeup bag. It had 3 sections, a big golden clasp and was filled with treasure. I distinctly remember Clinique gel rouge and eye shadow. My mom is a bit of a beauty junkie, as well. I gave my senior project presentation in high school about owning a salon/day spa and my own makeup company. I became a makeup artist to
further along my dream of having my own brand of products, one day. I figured it was two sides of the same coin. While I love makeup artistry, I feel my art is more within the products themselves.
C.O.H: And how did you come up with the name? What does it mean, again?
A.S.: “Au Shé” is what we say in my family when we want to get each other’s attention discreetly. So to me, it means “Pssst, pay attention. Look over here”. That is what I wanted from my customers, for them to pay attention; attention to ingredients, to small business, to their individual beauty … In the long run, I wish I had picked a name that was a little less “inside” and had gone with a name that made my message clearer to understand.
C.O.H.: You hand-craft your products. That seems like a real pain in the butt if you want to make a living. What’s the process like and how much time/cost is to you per unit?
A.S.: Sometimes it is a real pain in the butt! Part of the reason I handcraft my products is because I formulated all of them as well. I could have come out with a private label line, picked out some products and colors, then slapped my name on them, but to me, that lacked heart. I wanted a lipstick that was perfectly smooth, hydrating, made with natural ingredients plus great colors, and I did not think a catalog would provide me with the products that I was dreaming of. There was a lot of time as well as trial and error involved in developing my line. It has been a labor of love, with blood, sweat and yes, sometimes
tears. The process of making cosmetics is a lot like cooking. I mix together raw ingredients to form products using mostly kitchen appliances. Making the products themselves does not take too long; it is everything else involved that can be rather time consuming. For instance, I have to clean my lipstick mold 3 times before I can use it. Once with mineral oil to take off any left behind lipstick, once with soap to get rid of the mineral oil and lipstick, and then one more time with disinfectant. Even when that is done, I am only making 96 lipsticks at a time. If I have multiple batches of lipsticks to produce, I have to clean the mold another 3 times before I can use it again. There is also sterilization of equipment and packaging, general cleaning, filling products, labeling… it is an involved process. One that I love, but it takes a bit of time.
C.O.H.: What has been the biggest challenge about entrepreneurship?
A.S.: Besides spelling entrepreneurship, for me, the biggest challenge is not having a cloning system for myself. As with any business, there is so much to do and like most small businesses, only me to do it. I do have friends and family who pitch in time to time and that really helps me get things done (Thanks guys! You know who you are). Having to do everything from manufacturing to sales and paper work can make the days seem long, but they are worth it. The other challenge is of course, money. I have ideas and things I would love to do with my business (better marketing, product development, catalogs, etc), but currently my “dream big” budget is just not available. In the meantime, those ideas go in my “idea bank” and I work to build my business so I can achieve those goals someday.
(C.O.H. Sideshow: I gave Tahtiahna my copy of Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week after our time together. I hoped it would give her additional ideas on how to figuratively “clone” herself. Tatiahna, check out Tim’s 12/20/12 blog and read #10. Perhaps your body products/lip balms will be a fit for his latest quarterly shipment box. T.F. Idea steal, Tatiahna!)
C.O.H.: Have you learned any lessons about business or life throughout the process of building Au Shé that have surprised you?
A.S.: I think I have been most surprised by the generosity of people. My friends and family have given me multiple full days of their lives throwing home parties, setting up at and visiting many a craft fair, labeling lip balms, filling eye shadows for nothing but maybe lunch in return because they love me and want me to succeed. The strangers who ask questions and buy products to try out and support my small business instead of going to the mall to get their favorite products. Other entrepreneurs who sell my products and let me host workshops and sales events in their stores because we are in this together; bloggers and other makeup artists spreading the word, family friends only buying Au Shé products for stocking stuffers…the list is really endless. There are so many people who have supported me in one way or another with usually nothing to gain and I could not be more grateful and thankful for every single one of them.
And the winner is…
Congrats to @MyGrandmaSue who is the first giveaway winner! Sue, shoot me an email to let me know where to send you your gift!
I’ll post makeover pics next time (Other readers, please subscribe via email using the “follow/stay updated” link on the left of the blog for future chances to win stuff).
Check out www.Au-She.com to find out more and see the products!