“She Says” with Angel Rogers

Women Employed
She Says

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Wife, mother, esthetician, registered nurse, and phlebotomist are some of the many hats that Angel Rogers wears. But being an entrepreneur might be the most impactful. As the founder and CEO of Bella Reine Cosmetics, Angel is on a mission to transform the way women look at themselves. Through impactful messages adorned on her product’s packaging, Angel is helping her customers recognize both their inner and outer beauty.

When Angel launched Bella Reine in 2012, the mother of four did not expect to encounter the various roadblocks or obstacles she faced. But those attempted setbacks were nothing more than a setup for her inevitable success, making her mission and vision clear as crystal and giving her a renewed sense of purpose.

In this month’s “She Says,” Angel Rogers shares with us her beginnings, how Women Employed’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Hub (WE Hub) helped equip her for success, and how she shows up for herself and others.

Tell me about yourself.

The idea for Bella Reine came to me in 2012. At that time, I failed nursing school and was so depressed. I felt lost and like a failure. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I was going to do and I felt something telling me to start a makeup company. It was ironic because I didn’t wear makeup. I was more of a lip gloss kind of girl. But I’m a server by nature. I love helping people. And I know that with women when we look good, we feel good.

After the idea came to me, I began researching makeup manufacturers, and how to make makeup, and I found a few companies with white label products that you can add your label and branding to. At the time, I didn’t have a lot of funding for bulk orders, so I ordered samples from different companies to try the makeup out. I ended up finding a company that I really adored. Their products were natural, hypoallergenic, no parabens, and nontoxic. I also loved how they smelled and that they were located here in Chicago.

Now, the name Bella Reine came from a bit of research too. At the time, my daughter, Beautiful, was only a few months old and I had a niece whose name was Queen. I began looking up how to say Beautiful Queen in different languages and saw that Bella meant beautiful in Spanish and Reine meant queen in French and loved how they sounded together.

At the time, Bella Reine didn’t have a specific niche. It felt like a hobby or just something that I was doing and talking to people about at various events. But it kept nagging at me. I knew Bella Reine could be more and that I could do more with it. So, once I successfully finished nursing school, I hit the ground running.

Fast forward to 2019, I found myself facing a roadblock that stalled my progress with Bella Reine. I was devastated and in a dark space, feeling like I was digging my way out of a hole. But I feel like that was when I started building an identity for Bella Reine. I realized that instead of making women feel beautiful on the outside, I wanted them to feel beautiful on the inside too. I started incorporating spiritual messages and affirming words on my products so that my customers could take what they needed to uplift them. At Bella Reine, we enhance a beautiful queen one divine feature at a time through the holistic power of makeup application encouraging self-love, empowerment, and safe-building skills.

What products do you currently have?

Right now, I just have lip gloss and lashes. When I started Bella Reine, I had a full line of makeup. So, if you were to visit my table at an event I was vending at, you could purchase all the items needed for a full face of makeup. But now, because I’m focusing on scaling up, I want to release one product at a time to build my audience.

As I said before, I don’t really have a specific niche. In the beginning, my products were for everybody. But now that I’ve taken a step back, I can, in a sense, nurture my baby so that I can focus on the direction I’m trying to take the brand.

How has the Women’s Entrepreneurship Hub (WE Hub) been instrumental in helping you build your business?

I was introduced to WE Hub in 2022. I was a part of the 100 Shades of Mompreneurs ceremony with Hustle Mommies. I began receiving emails from WE Hub Manager Shelby Flores and started attending the webinars. Now that I have my own dashboard where I can learn different things, it’s been a game changer. The WE Hub has helped me learn how to market to customers, close deals, get leads, and even how to communicate differently. I’ve also learned different levels of leadership and the kind of leader I am. It’s all been very helpful.

I was fortunate enough to establish a one-on-one connection with Women Employed’s Director of Business Development, Ibie Hart. She was one of the judges at a pitch competition that I participated in and got a sense of my brand and that it needed to be constructed better. Ibie now checks in on me and how my business is going. She’s also helped me to realize that my focus is more on the messaging rather than the makeup.

Some people may not want to purchase my brand because of the messaging. And that’s fine. That’s not my audience. I was in a dark place when I started Bella Reine. But where it started versus where it is now are completely different. I want my cosmetic company to bring life and show people that they don’t have to be afraid to be beautiful.

Based on what you learned using the WE Hub, how would you advise the next Black woman entrepreneur?

I would first tell her to do her research and really see if this is something she wants to do for the long haul. Also, think about how you see yourself and show up as the boss you want to be. Get feedback from your audience. If you’re catering to a certain group or demographic, you want to make sure you’re providing what they’re interested in. Another thing I would tell the next up-and-coming entrepreneur is to be around winners. It’s important to put yourself in the same rooms and spaces as individuals who inspire you and who you want to learn from. And pace yourself. Don’t be in a rush.

Many people think that if you start your business on a Monday, you’re going to blow up by Friday, and by Sunday, you’ll be all sold out of products. But it takes time. And I can say that because Bella Reine Cosmetics was a journey that started in 2012, and here it is 12 years later. You have to be strong. You have to have a backbone. You’re going to have ups and downs and you’re going to have moments where you won’t have any sales. But then, you’ll have moments where you will have lots. There will be favorable and not-so-favorable reviews. And you’re going to have to keep going through all of that. You have to have perseverance and keep showing up.

But more importantly, I would tell someone to utilize your resources. A lot of times, I have so many tools in my toolbox that I’m not pulling them out. When I signed up for the WE Hub, I was signing up to take a webinar. I had no idea about all the other resources that were available to me. So, for the WE Hub user, I would say be sure to go on your dashboard and take advantage of everything they have to offer.

Speaking of resources, what has been the best one that you have used since signing up for the WE Hub?

I love the webinars. One of my favorites was about having access to capital. But the webinars are live and have some of the best information. I can ask questions and feel like I’m getting that one-on-one connection. The instructors share their contact information so that you can always reach out for additional questions.

There are also grant opportunities. I tell entrepreneurs to make sure to look up and apply for as many grants as possible to build their cash flow. A lot of times, entrepreneurs don’t have a lot of their own money to start these businesses which can make them want to give up. So, I tell people to put themselves out there, do it scared, and bet on yourself.

How are you going all in with Bella Reine Cosmetics?

I’m going all in because I’m not taking “no” for an answer. If I get a “no,” that means not from you. If I get a “no,” that means not right now. If I get a “no,” that means I’ll go somewhere else. For me, I’m really taking this seriously. I’m scaling up and I’m putting in the work.

A lot of times, we want results but we’re not putting in the work, but I’m putting in the work. I downloaded a habit tracker so I can make sure I’m having that CEO time and assessing what happened one day, and how I’m going to change it the next. I’m also making sure I know my numbers. Sometimes we don’t know our numbers. So, I’m checking my cash flow and my balance sheet.

And I’m networking more. I’m going to events and introducing myself. Though, it can be hard sometimes. Stepping into these rooms where different demographics and people are more financially stable than you can feel very intimidating. But in 2024, I’m walking into these rooms like I was sent there, like I own it. I’m being more confident and I’m being more vulnerable. I’m going for it.

You wear a lot of hats. How do you show up as a boss in your various titles and for yourself?

I show up authentically, not trying to be someone I’m not. And even though I am a boss, I am a server. I show up to show people that I’m here, that I can help. Also, I show up to show people that I’m no different and no better than anyone else. When I’m working in the hospital, I treat the CNAs, the housekeepers, or anyone whose pay grade might be different than mine the same way I treat the doctors.

At the end of the day, we’re all humans. We all need affection. We all need respect. So, I try to treat others the same way I would treat myself or my mom or one of my good friends. I wouldn’t be rude or disrespectful to them, so why would I do that to you?

This time around, I’m showing up confident. I’m excited. I’m hopeful. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities coming my way and I want to make an impact. And not just for women of color. I want to make an impact on women in general.

I remember when I was studying for my nursing exam and one of the instructors talked about being a good test taker. They said, “If you can’t get through the front door, go through the back. If you can’t go through the back door, go through the cellar.” And that’s what I have been doing. I’ve been finding a way and letting it lead me.

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Women Employed created the Women’s Entrepreneurship Hub (WE Hub) for women just like Angel to enable them to overcome the obstacles they face when trying to launch and grow businesses. As women look to step outside the traditional work model, going out on their own can feel intimidating or like an uphill battle. Especially for Black and Latina/x women, who have a harder time securing resources and who face systemic and structural barriers to business ownership. But despite the barriers, many women are launching side hustles to supplement their income. We want to ensure they can find success and sustainability.

Created by women for women, WE Hub is a revolutionary tool to empower more Illinois women to improve their financial security, build their wealth, and achieve their own vision of success through entrepreneurship. Through WE Hub, users have access to valuable resources from trusted partners, a supportive environment for women to connect and share experiences, opportunities for grants, loans, and other timely capital-raising opportunities, and curated action plans to make the entrepreneurial journey easier. For more information on WE Hub and to sign up, visit https://wehub.org/.

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Women Employed
She Says

WE relentlessly pursue equity for women in the workforce by effecting policy change, expanding access to education, & advocating for fair, inclusive workplaces.