Beauty Store Business

AUG 2017

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110 August 2017 | beautystorebusiness.com always around the corner, they're acces- sible to anyone. In the ongoing partnership, we have the ability to present new products to add to the collection—and my passion is creating products! We're looking to add a few more products in the next year, includ- ing lipsticks, a liquid brush cleaner that actually sanitizes brushes for a deep clean and a couple of different palette ideas. We're definitely looking to expand. What have been some of your biggest challenges as you've grown the company? I think there's one big challenge with a lot of competitors within the beauty industry: manufacturing. It's really difficult to find reliable, consistent manufacturers, espe- cially within the U.S., where all of our Color Switch products are made. And then we needed to find other manufacturers for color cosmetics. What have been some of your greatest successes? It's everyone's dream in the beauty indus- try to be in a large retailer like Sephora, and I think we get the most praise for that from family and friends. They're amazed they can walk into this huge retailer and find our products. I'm also proud of invent- ing something completely different and new; there was just nothing like it. All of the feedback and compliments we get are amazing. I think it would be difficult to come up with another product like that. I can make another lipstick, but how many are out there? With Color Switch, we can honestly say we were the first to create something new. What kind of growth have you enjoyed since starting? I'm not the financial person, but I can tell you our business has quadrupled since we started. We've seen it double within months, especially when we moved from carrying it ourselves and in small retailers to Sephora. We've seen tremendous growth from when we started. We often pinch ourselves: Is this really happening? What advice would you share with other aspiring entrepreneurs? If you have a gut feeling that you have a really good product that people truly need, don't think twice—go for it! Try to get it out as soon as possible. I think a lot of people with ideas sit on them and wait, and then get discouraged or distracted. I gave a makeup artist that advice last year, and within two to three months she had product samples that she'll be launching. We did our launch within a few months, too. If there's a need for something, someone else is going to think of it if you don't act fast. What role has social media played in your company? It's huge. That's where we get to engage with our original and new customers. We get tons of feedback for new products. And even companies from across the world can find us and buy wholesale. Social media is something we really want to continue to grow because it directly connects us to the consumer. Who are your customers? At first, it was maybe 70 percent makeup artists because we would go to shows, and that's where the exposure began. Now, it's flip-flopped; probably 60 to 70 percent are regular girls who own a couple of brushes. Besides Sephora, where does Vera Mona have a store presence? I believe we're in every Ricky's NYC, with over 20 locations on the East Coast. We sell a lot in the United Arab Emirates; that's actually where most of our business first came from—Saudi Arabia, Dubai—and remains one of the biggest countries for purchases. We are also in individual bou- tiques with maybe one or two locations. Last time I checked, we were in 20-something countries and well over 200 small boutiques. And, of course, we sell online. Do you have a typical day on the job? It changes a lot. We work Monday to Fri- day, but our days fluctuate. My day never ends. I'm on the phone from the moment I get up to when I go to sleep! But we're always tackling whatever is most urgent. Right now, I'm looking at artwork for our packaging, but tomorrow I have a meeting with someone helping me with lipsticks. My husband handles operations and sales, so his days all look very similar. He's working on orders for customers. But we just met with a creative agency today to take some things off my plate. I still manage our social media, for example, but what I love and want to focus on is creating new products. How is the company structured? Right now, it's my husband and me; plus a full-time employee who also does every- thing; and a temporary workforce of one to 10 employees, depending on the time of year, to help with assembly. We assemble, in-house, all of our Color Switch products, buying products from manufacturers, then quality-checking them and assembling them here. We prefer to do it that way. It's more costly, but then we can ensure that every single Color Switch that leaves our building has been checked by more than three people. It's a process we don't want to let go of, even though our margins are smaller. But that's what gives you a quality product at the end of the day. What are your favorite ways to relax when you're away from the business? I have a 7-month-old son and an 8-year-old daughter who keep me quite busy! So when we're not here, our full attention is usually on our family. We love taking short, three-day vacations to any quick getaway within driving distance—San Diego, Palm Springs, Arizona. We can never go away from the business for a week; that's just too long! ■ —Tracy Morin Get Connected! vera_mona @veramonaofficial Vera Mona @vera_mona veramona.com @veramonacs Executive Spotlight "If there's a need for something, someone else is going to think of it if you don't act fast." 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