Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, my name is Anastasia Andreani. I grew up in the Midwest, in a small town outside Chicago. From a very young age, I was drawn to the world of beauty and art. Growing up wasn’t easy. My parents got divorced when I was very young, which led me to start working and hustling to make money at a young age. I have always been a free-willed spirit with the intention of paving my own way in life.
I have a fond passion for people, cool brands, education, beauty, animals, and generally showing love to the important people in my life. Vizio Makeup Academy is a combination of all these things, and I am thrilled to be able to offer makeup artistry education and great products to individuals all over the world. My partner and I founded Vizio Makeup Academy in 2011, an online professional makeup academy that allows individuals to take our professional makeup courses online.
In addition to our online makeup courses, we are also very proud to have designed and created our own cosmetic line which we give to our students upon enrollment into our courses. Our products include custom vegan makeup brushes; a wide variety of highly pigmented HD eyeshadow; blush, highlight and contour palettes; color foundations; and many more. We have carefully handpicked each product and put together an amazing pro kit for our students to utilize during and after their makeup course.
We have been so fortunate to connect with students from many countries all over the world. It makes me extremely proud and happy to hear the success stories from graduates and students who thank me for offering them a quality makeup education and opportunities they probably would never be able to receive otherwise. It melts my heart to see dreams coming true.
Vizio Makeup Academy has enrolled over 3,300 students and generated $2.4M in revenue this year. We have been contributing a lot of energy and time into our growth strategies, so we aim to double and triple our earnings in the years to come.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Let’s start from the beginning…
A career in beauty education was not what I grew up thinking I would do. I was born in a small town in the Midwest. Life wasn’t always a bed of roses for me. The circumstances of my upbringing and the fear and uncertainty I experienced at a very young age when my parents got divorced contributed to an early sense of needing to fend for myself. Having very little money, I worked many jobs to try to make ends meet. I struggled between working and going to school. While I thought my parents’ divorce had been a curse for most of my childhood and into my teen years, I later realized it hadn’t been a curse at all; it had actually turned into a really valuable gift for me. It has given me a spirit of both independence and experimentation, which I truly believe has led me to where I am today.
I first studied business administration and finance in college and earned my business degree. I spent many years working a 9-5 office job, but it wasn’t long before I knew I wanted more—something was missing. For my entire life, I have had a love for beauty. I’m a creative person by nature, and art has forever inspired and moved me. I also have a true love for being able to help others grow, to feel beautiful and to be more confident about themselves. This passion drives me and gives me the energy to help others see their true beauty and potential. I knew I wanted to do something in life that caused people to smile on the outside as well as on the inside and that used my creative talents in a more meaningful way. These longings led me down an entirely new path in life.
Vizio Makeup Academy has enrolled over 3,300 students and generated $2.4M in revenue this year. We plan to invest it all back into our company to launch our newest venture of becoming the first makeup academy franchise in the world.
I kept searching for a new opportunity to get into the beauty industry, which I loved so much. I enrolled and graduated from Pivot Point Academy in Chicago, where I earned my esthetician license and professional makeup artistry certification. After graduating, I was fortunate to have many great opportunities that led me to work with prestigious spas and med spas, amazing brands, models, celebrities and many other professionals in the industry. I was a focused, hardworking makeup artist and esthetician, and I was very persistent. I networked with other professionals in the industry, and I quickly realized that everyone just wants to feel beautiful and confident.
I found the perfect way to help people achieve this through my work as a makeup artist and esthetician. Great skin gave my clients the perfect canvas for great makeup, which led to instant confidence. It absolutely is all about feeling as breathtaking on the inside as you do on the outside. After gaining years of experience and learning tricks and secrets from the experts in the industry, I decided it was time to go to another level. I had a yearning to share all my knowledge and secrets with others. I had been blessed with many mentors, so I now wanted to be a mentor for others. It wasn’t long before my thoughts and dreams started to take shape.
I started doing live makeup events in my area. We had students flying in from all over: Brazil, Italy, the UK and many other areas just to attend our live makeup classes. Not only did we change people’s lives, but we also generated a great income, and we started to build our business model. I had a love for helping and connecting with people from all over the world while doing what we love to do, which led us to start thinking about being able to reach more people from all over the world. This was really our ah-ha moment when lightning struck, giving us the idea to teach makeup courses online. We saw this as our way forward to the next level, and in 2011, I teamed up with my now husband, Alfredo Andreani. Utilizing all his professional photography, cosmetic product, fashion, website and app development and extensive SEO background skills, we started working on our dream: to create the most amazing, interactive, advanced, futuristic online makeup academy in the world.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
We invested an enormous amount of time and energy in developing this concept. We didn’t have a big budget to work with, so with very little capital, a lot of hard work and persistence, we did it ourselves. We didn’t hire any employees to help us in the beginning; it was just the two of us working nonstop, all hours of the night and every weekend, tirelessly. I find myself reminiscing of the past sometimes, and I can remember having only $100 in the bank, doubting and wondering if this was really a good idea to pursue. I can honestly say there was a voice inside me literally yelling at me with the answer YES, keep moving forward. We believed in ourselves and in each other so much that we knew in our hearts we were on the right path; we knew this was going to work and grow.
So, we started building it all from the ground up. All the makeup lessons and information taught within our courses are lessons that I and our elite makeup instructors have invested our time and hearts into. I have personally taken great pride in being able to offer my trade secrets and knowledge with others. I consider myself beyond lucky that my love of makeup and skincare, after many long years of hard work, has turned into a successful business for so many others to learn and grow from.
It was not easy at the beginning since we did not have thousands of dollars to invest. We learned everything we could about this business and how it works. Once the academy was built, we decided we wanted to create and design our own cosmetic line. We did not want to give students generic makeup products; we wanted to give them something we had created. The first 2 years were spent testing and trying new products until they worked. There was no giving up on anything we did; we kept fine-tuning and making it work.
Creating our makeup line was not an easy task, and we went through many prototypes at the beginning. We were fortunate enough to be able to test a lot of our products with our students. They would give us feedback, sending us back to the drawing board to make tweaks to the products until they were better than ever. Our pride and joy are our professional makeup brushes. So many makeup schools were giving cheap and poor-quality makeup brushes and using other companies’ brands, but we wanted to create the best brushes on the market. Our brushes are vegan, synthetic (NO ANIMAL HAIR), made of the best material and glue, and laser-engraved with UV coating. We have branded every single brush detailing its use with a beautiful leatherette case featuring our logo.
I have also always been fascinated with Hollywood, California. At a very young age, I would analyze celebrities and their makeup. Makeup and the beauty of the actresses were always so interesting to me. The glitz, the glamour, and stardom have always been so exciting. I also knew that learning and education work best when you learn from a variety of teachers. I feel as though each and every individual has their own lessons to teach, and people really can never stop learning. So, with this in mind, I thought it would be especially amazing to hire some of the best professional celebrity makeup artists in Hollywood, California, so they could incorporate their secrets and tips into the courses as well. I thought it would be a huge asset for students to learn the secrets and experiences from the best of the best.
We hired a few of the top celebrity makeup artists from Hollywood, California. They have done makeup for leading celebrities like Taylor Swift, Stan Lee, Paris Hilton, Neyo, Larry King, Miss Universe, Kelly Clarkson, Mario Lopez, Ron Howard, George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Natalie Cole, Serena Williams and companies like Universal, Vogue magazine and many more. We have added their secrets and knowledge to our curriculum as well.
We started this business with $4,000. Working from the ground up, we utilized everything we had learned throughout the years and put all our knowledge into this academy. We spent $500 on trademarking Vizio Makeup Academy and a few hundred dollars on legal fees.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Once our website and products were ready, we launched Vizio Makeup Academy. The initial response was very good. We started slowly enrolling students, and we started to polish the curriculum. We got a lot of feedback at the beginning and quickly changed things around, working out the kinks of our new business venture. We didn’t invest a lot of money to launch, and we wanted to slowly fix any problems we would have.
We did not borrow any money or take out any loans; we just used our credit cards. We did not want to end with huge debt before launching the business. We knew that the smaller the debt at the beginning, the faster we would be able to make profits and invest back into the company.
The best advice I can give to business owners just starting out is to start small. Try to do as much as you can on your own in the beginning and work yourself up. Try not to invest large sums of money into a business at the beginning, and don’t go in with a ton of debt. Sometimes, I feel that the more money you must invest, the more mistakes you can make. When you’re working with all your own money and it’s not much, you will rethink everything 5 times before deciding. In the end, if it doesn’t work well, you won’t lose that much money, and you can continue moving forward.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The best way to utilize an online presence is with Google AdWords, as you can test the right keywords and see what works for your industry or not. You don’t have to wait a long time, as the results are fast. Invest small in these ads and work yourself up. Networking is also key to any online business, as you must network to get bloggers and other companies supporting you.
Organic traffic is the best way to make your online business grow, as it will bring you lots of customers. Hire the best SEO companies to help your business grow. This is a great investment for any online business.
Our best PR strategy has been word-of-mouth, as it’s free and it can be powerful. We have had students bring us more students because of how happy they were about our services. They tell us that we have changed their lives in so many ways, then they share their stories with their followers; that’s the best way to get clients.
In today’s changing times, working with an influencer is also a great way to get out there. They can let many people know about you with little effort. Influencers can help your brand grow, which is key, and you will see results instantly. Never be afraid to reach out to them and ask for help, as many will help you with very little in return.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Vizio Makeup Academy has enrolled over 3,300 students and generated $2.4M in revenue this year, with a net margin profit of approximately 60%. We plan to invest it all back into our company to launch our newest venture of becoming the first makeup academy franchise in the world. We are proud to have given 10% to students in need and students who cannot afford tuition through our charity events. We have a bounce rate of 25% and have optimized our website to meet Google specs. Website speed is very important; our website downloads in 1.1 seconds.
We have now translated our curriculum and website into Spanish, opening the doors to all our Spanish-speaking students. We now have a 35% rate of Spanish-speaking students. We have students from all over the world, from Australia, UK, Europe, and South America. It’s so exciting to see students enroll from Japan, Rome, New York, Miami, Bogota and many more.
Our biggest achievement this year is to officially be the first and only online makeup academy to be accredited with a USA state in California’s charter schools. High school students from Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and many more surrounding cities are taking Vizio Makeup Academy online courses as an elective course to earn up to 25 credits. This has been a blessing and an amazing achievement for us and our industry. We have created a very customized makeup kit for them to use throughout the course.
Moving forward to 2020, we are taking Vizio Makeup Academy to a totally new level. We want to be the first makeup school franchise in the world. With so many students wanting to attend Vizio Makeup Academy live classes, we are launching licensing opportunities for all our graduate students and makeup artists throughout the world.
Makeup artists will learn Vizio Makeup Academy’s unique formula to teach its students the curriculum we have mastered for over a decade in the makeup industry. Properly teaching students the color wheel, color correcting, foundation types and tones, face charts, highlighting and contouring, natural to smokey makeup looks, specialized bridal makeup, airbrushing, and special effects makeup.
A video from vimeo.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Yes, many things! I remember going to the post office and filling out the international customs forms by hand, waiting in line and spending hours at the post office. Now we do everything from our office. We use the right software and have the mailing carriers come to pick up the packages. It sounds like an easy fix, but at the time, we didn’t know how to do this. We learned new secrets of the trade along the way. If you only try each day and think to yourself, how can I make this better, or faster, or better quality, soon you will fix the small things and move ahead. Now I look back and easily see how much we have grown.
When you first start your business, you must give your all! There are no vacations or days off. You must sacrifice all to get to where you want to be. Dreams do come true, but you do have to put in the hard work. It’s harder for entrepreneurs to do this as you must reach very deep inside of you to push yourself every day. Having to work for someone else is much easier, but you will be living someone else’s dream, not yours.
We started this business with $4,000. Working from the ground up, we utilized everything we had learned and put all our knowledge into this academy. We spent $500 on trademarking Vizio Makeup Academy and a few hundred dollars on legal fees.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Shopify has been our number one software to use, it’s very easy and friendly, and it comes loaded with add-on apps you can use. Shopify can integrate with your shipping and many of today’s top software, all in one great place. It’s helped us with the inventory part of the business, too.
Another great tool we use is Aweber. This tool is great for mass marketing and talking to your client base. It’s a great tool to use for beginners and advanced business owners. You can start with a small plan and work your way up.
Shippo is a must-have for shipping. This will help you save so much time, as it does everything for you. It creates shipping labels for you to print and gives your customers a tracking number so they can track their packages online at any given time.
Amazon Prime is amazing to get your entire inventory delivered to your office the next day. We use this a lot, and it saves us time and money. We hardly go anywhere to get office supplies anymore.
After Effects is by far the best video editing software we use. It’s very professional and the best video software on the market. I love how it is always coming up with special effects and upgrades.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
One of my favorite books is the classic Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. This book was very inspirational and great to read at the beginning of the dream stage. It motivated me and helped me stay focused on the dream.
Another must-have book is Pulling Profits out of a Hat by Brad Sugars. This book has helped me really understand the business aspect more clearly, and it has helped our business grow incredibly. Any starting business owner or successful business owner should read this book. Also, it’s a great idea to hire a business coach, as it will catapult you and help you grow your business. We use Actioncoach the owner Brad Sugars is a great friend and also one of the best leading business coaches in the world. Hire a business coach near you and see your business start making huge profits in no time.
My favorite TV show to watch is Shark Tank. This is a must-see show, as you will learn so much from the sharks! You can get great ideas and see how you can implement them in your business. See how mistakes are made and what they cost entrepreneurs. It’s also so inspirational as you see how much regular people start to make with great ideas. I have learned so much throughout the years with this great show.
It’s always been a great thing for me to create a vision board. It’s crazy and amazing how this small vision board can be so powerful. I have put many things on there that I wanted to achieve, both personally and professionally, and every year, I look back at it and replace the things I have achieved with new ones. It’s incredible and humbling to look back at this and realize how much you have grown and done. Also, it helps you to stay focused.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
My top tips would be the following:
- Don’t invest great amounts of money at the beginning
- Go your own way and stop listening to other people
- Don’t lose focus on your goals and dreams
- Do something you are passionate about
- Focus on profits, not on sales
- Dream big
- Create goals every day
- Keep acquiring more knowledge
- Taking action is key to success
- AGAIN, TAKE ACTION!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always hiring great people to add to our team. If you love the makeup industry and feel like you can contribute to our business by joining the Vizio Makeup Academy team, please email us at [email protected]
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Vizio Makeup Academy has provided an update on their business!
Almost 2 years ago, we followed up with Vizio Makeup Academy to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
10 months ago, we followed up with Vizio Makeup Academy to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
Get our 5-minute email newsletter packed with business ideas and money-making opportunities, backed by real-life case studies.