Beauty Store Business

JUL 2016

Beauty Store Business provides solutions for better retailing! New products, industry news, savvy business moves and important trends affecting both brick-and-mortar and online retailers are included in each issue.

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Page 23 of 115

22 July 2016 | Marlena Stell CEO/Founder, Makeup Geek Cosmetics Age: 36 Instagram: @makeupgeekcosmetics Twitter: @makeupgeek Leyla Milani President/Founder, Leyla Milani Hair Age: 34 IG: @leylamilani Twitter: @leylamilanihair One of the biggest YouTube stars-turned-entrepreneurs, Marlena Stell's success with her cosmetics company, Makeup Geek, has played out like a YouTuber's fairytale. A former high school-music teacher who minored in stage makeup, Stell quit her job after launching her YouTube channel in 2008. "I've always loved makeup and enjoyed educating other women in cosmetics application; so I started my YouTube channel, MakeupGeekTV," Stell says. "It was a hit from the start!" Although she loved teaching and talking makeup, Stell says she soon began to feel frustrated that she was influ- encing the sales of other brands but wasn't reaping the rewards. And so she began to build her own cosmetics line, which launched in 2011. The brand's success flourished largely thanks to its signature products: affordable, qual- ity eye shadows—still a mainstay today. "With Makeup Geek, my goal was to create a line of products that were both high quality and affordable, and I think we've done that. To me, that's a huge accomplish- ment! I run a transparent business, sell direct and pass savings on to my customers whenever I can. I'm a real girl trying to make cosmetic artistry accessible to everyone." It's that authenticity and transparency that differen- tiates Makeup Geek from other brands out there. Having started on YouTube, fans have been able to watch and participate in the journey and creation of the brand. "An integral element to our success has been developing a genuine and personal connection with our customers. I continue to upload YouTube videos to maintain that connection—it's so important and so much fun. Consumers these days want to buy from a person, not giant conglomerates," Stell says. "Consumers these days want to buy from a person, not giant conglomerates." "Those setbacks are there; but you [must] have the enthusiasm to keep going out there and building your brand." Keeping her presence alive on YouTube has under- scored the most important part of Makeup Geek's mission: education. "We don't just sell you a product, we teach you how to use it too—not many of our competitors do that," she says. It's in the arena of education where Stell draws the most inspiration for the future. "Ultimately, I'm most proud of being a leading source for makeup education; a place where people can come to learn about and enjoy the power of makeup. If I can help just one person feel more beautiful, that's what it's all about for me!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MORE THAN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS While some may say Marlena Stell's success with Makeup Geek has flourished with the bat of an eye, it has been anything but easy. "I spent years researching labs, test- ing products, identifying my target market, developing a marketing strategy, interacting with customers, networking with industry influencers and just really soaking up all the knowledge I could. There's so much that goes into creating a brand—lots of trial and error!" And although her age brings doubt by some, Stell shrugs it off: "Young or old, I've never let age define my story." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Leyla Milani has seemingly done it all: She attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, launched her own denim line and eventually became a household name as a briefcase model on the hit TV show Deal or No Deal. But despite her many talents, the conversation has always come back to one thing: her hair. "Growing up, everyone always has something [they're known for]. And for me, my hair was always my trademark," Milani says. Fate would prove this again when she appeared on the popular game show. "My hair was always big and wild; they always wanted my hair that way. I became known for my hair." Before she knew it, she was constantly receiving fan mail asking about her hair and what products she used. And sometimes, people accused her hair of being fake. Milani decided to embrace the all-around fascination with her hair and turn lemons into lemonade. "Everyone wants my hair; but not everyone was born with it," Milani says of the initial idea. At the time, the only options for women, she says, were to get glue-in or sewn-in extensions at a salon. "I wanted to create a more affordable option." And so she created her own line of clip-in, 100% human-hair extensions. Soon came positive feedback from customers, and even requests for additional products. Milani delivered with fun styling tools, such as The Triple Threat Inter- changeable Ceramic Curling Iron, the Miracle Brush and the Give It To Me Straight Ceramic Flat Iron. Finally, it seemed, Milani was able to take her natural gift—her hair—and merge it with her true passion—business. "Time really flies when you're doing something you love," she says. "You [must] have passion for the business. Doing what I do now, it's truly my passion and makes me happy at the end of the day." Within a year of the brand's launch, Milani's prod- ucts were on the shelves of major chains, including Planet Beauty and Ricky's NYC. Today, Leyla Milani Hair can be found in more than 100 stores and salons. Whether it's dealing with shipping or distribution or product prototypes, Milani says the life of a CEO isn't always glamorous. "Those setbacks are there, but you [must] have the enthusiasm to keep going out there and building your brand. No one cares as much as you do and knows it as well as you do." As for new dreams, Milani is focused on perfecting the brand's haircare line, which will include shampoos and conditioners. She also has her eyes set on working with another major chain: "My dream is to get into ULTA. That's the plan right now. I feel it'd be a great synergy." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LAWS OF ATTRACTION Leyla Milani is the biggest champion of her own dream— a trait she says is vital for young entrepreneurs. "You definitely have to be driven and self motivated. You shouldn't need a push from anyone. You need a can-do attitude to get out there and make your dreams come true; and a healthy level of energy—I'm always restless and impatient," she says. It's that energy, she thinks, people will ultimately be drawn to. "Veterans in the industry might look at you and think you're too green. But people are eager to work with someone who is energetic. People are drawn to that energy." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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