How I Started A $8.5K/Month Cosmetics Brand
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Alexis Evans aka Da Mademoiselle. I am a native of South Florida who has started a cosmetic and skincare company named FBI Cosmetics d/b/a Flawlessly Beautiful Individual in the middle of a pandemic.
I am also the owner of Boss Talk Expo an annual expo and conference company. I branched out into the beauty industry, I started FBI Cosmetics off with just lipsticks and have progressed into the skincare business in December. I have grossed over $62,000 in sales. People ask where the name comes from and I tell people “it’s a crime to be so damn beautiful.”
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I decided to dive into the beauty industry because as someone that has a felony record from years ago, I fell into a depression state. After all, no one would give me a job so, I turned to make-up. Makeup became my comfort zone. It made me feel beautiful after having down days.
No one back then would give me a chance, no one cared I had a college degree all they saw was that I had a felon, so I cope with my depression through makeup and skincare routines. I am overly obsessed with flawless makeup and flawless skin. Everyone has always told me that they have loved my makeup and how flawless my bare skin looked, that I should consider getting into the industry. Here we are 3 years later and now I am passionately involved with my brand.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Just like any industry you must do your research and learn the pros and cons. As a novice to the beauty world, I thought about what value can I bring to anyone humanly that loves a flawless makeup look or skin? What can I do differently that outweighs other makeup companies? In the beginning, I private-labeled my makeup from a company in California and China.
Once I gained enough revenue I went back to those same distributors and worked out a deal where NDA was implemented to produce my very own lipsticks, lip gloss, eye shadow palettes. By doing so I am creating my own company identity. As far as the skincare line I get the best of both worlds because I am hands-on with a product I am producing with an esthetician that will be dropping this year.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching my products was not hard because I am mainly serving women who love to look and feel good about their appearance. To kickstart my company I reached out to some underdogs and well-known beauty influencers and sent them free products to get the buzz going about FBI Cosmetics.
I designed my own website through Wix and my content using Canva. With marketing, I advertised with Facebook ads and email blasts, and word of mouth. The biggest lesson I learned was to never be afraid to talk about your company and to get in front of your brand.
I started my company with only $1500 from my savings - since I launched in July, I recently partnered with Walmart marketplace in October and sold about 30% of my product collection through online sales with an 11% margin return.
Venturing out to Walmart made me step my game up to having a better structure in place when it comes to mass orders that usually appear out of nowhere. I am looking to expand my company as big as Ulta or Sephora by offering different beauty essentials.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The best way I attract and retain customers is that I implement lifestyle images that show actual images or videos of customers, influencers, or me using the products. This method seems to get more views for me as it brings a lot of traffic to fbicosmetics.com and the business Instagram page.
Another way of retaining customers is that I most frequently post about beauty products and tips. Utilizing email blasts of upcoming deals and new product launches. This keeps subscribers excited and gives them more of a VIP experience because they feel they are the first to know.
Another way I obtain customers is by using hashtags that are both relevant to the brand and unrelated to my brand. Hashtags are used a lot on social media by consumers to navigate to what they are looking for just as if they were using google.
The only thing I would say that has not worked for me is hiring a PR to assist with content and marketing, that was a waste of money as the company hired did not see my vision nor did they uphold their end of the contract.
I am currently implementing a new way to reach more customers and that is through direct mailers with USPS and Postcardmania, this would help me reach more of my target audiences in areas where makeup is bought the most in the world and connect on a more personal level.
Due to the pandemic, you have more people at home shopping now and actually check their mailboxes.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I would say I am doing good with maintaining my margins over 10% and weekly sales. I am learning how to market to my audience with “pre-sales and remaining relatable,”
Being a continuous student of life who wants to make the best of my $1500 investment (lol) I tend to look forward to what is always trending in the beauty industry while handling multiple empires at once. With my conversion rate up by 5% and an average of 6 subscribers a day – I am looking for the new FBI Angel face(s) preferable ethnicity of a Latino and black-American. By doing so my day-to-day operation is always strategizing, following up on emails, fulfilling orders, and going over numbers to make sure my monthly close-outs make sense as far as revenue.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Since I have started the business, I have made mistakes where I noticed that if I am not posting consistently, I am losing the audience's attention. Also, I have learned to really research any company that I am using as a distributor, manufacturer, or vendor by asking questions about where and how the products are produced, turnaround timeframe, licensing, and so much more.
Protecting my brand has been my number concern when delivering customer service and top-of-line products to consumers. I am always seeking legal guidance from my attorney and doing research.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
The current platforms that I am utilizing every day are Wix, Canva, all social media platforms except Twitter, Walmart, Google Ads, Mailers, etc.
With social media I would schedule content a week out at a time to keep it fresh and not dull as well go live. I tell anyone to use what works best for your company and just apply 10x more pressure to the task.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
To keep myself inspired I tune into YouTube and look forward to hearing motivational speeches from Erik Thomas (ET), Grant Cardone, T.D. Jakes, Les Brown, and the list goes on. I look forward to daily meditation to bring clarity on the path I am going, especially on days I am having a glitching brain.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
My most valuable advice I can tell anyone looking to start a business or expand their business is to trust the process, you will make mistakes along the way. Consistently, do your research in your industry – knowledge will be the biggest wealth in the end. Most importantly “Make Your Mark” or someone else will.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I am currently looking for an assistant that is savvy with creating content as well as assisting with day-to-day administrative needs.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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