Can 45 Seconds Change Your Life? How One Shark Tank Pitch Launched a New Beauty Brand
If you’re a working mom on the go, then having to haul around your makeup bag in addition to everything you need for work, daycare drop off, after school activities and more can be a real pain. (And I need that under eye concealer after getting woken up multiple times at night!) There’s now a more efficient way thanks to M·Y·O Cosmetic Cases (Makeup Your Own) – a magnetic cosmetic palette kit that lets you streamline your makeup bag and routine. Find out how Suzanne Carter got inspired by her teenage daughters and Shark Tank, and then took her idea to market.
Q: How did you end up in the beauty industry?
I spent the first 20 years of my career in the corporate training sector working with clients including Destination British Columbia and Rocky Mountaineer. I created customized programs for my clients to help them find efficiencies in their business. When I hit the 20-year mark I had an itch to try something new.
Around the same time, I was makeup shopping with my two teenage daughters and specifically looking for natural or organic skin care products for them. I noticed that many of these brands sold their eyeshadows and blushes in pans, but there wasn’t a convenient product to put them in. I wanted a magnetic case that would be easy to bring with you everywhere instead of having to bring your whole makeup bag.
I started checking out trade shows and conferences on beauty for ideas and inspiration. I happened to attend a conference where you could pay $100 to pitch Kevin Harrington, an original Shark from the Shark Tank, on your idea.
I organized my presentation and during my 45 second pitch, I dumped out my whole makeup bag to show him how if you just took just the makeup out of all the packaging, it would easily fit in my MYO Cosmetic Case.
He loved the idea and that was my inspiration behind turning this prototype into a reality.
Q: How did you narrow in on the scope and design of the case?
Based on the enthusiastic response from Kevin Harrington, I started to speak with the experts and makeup artists to get their feedback. What did they think was missing? What product do they wish they had to better help them apply their makeup and touch-ups on set? They were looking for something that had a spring lock on it and not just a magnetic close. There was a demand for touch-up containers, where they could keep small amounts of their products on hand and be able to apply them quickly and hygienically. These were all features the everyday woman could also use in a convenient go-everywhere cosmetic kit.
Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in getting this product developed?
This whole industry was new to me and I had so much to learn! Which trade shows do I attend? Should I focus on B2B or B2C? Where should I market the product? I invested the time and money to attend Cosmoprof North America in Las Vegas, which is the largest B2B beauty cosmetics trade show in North America. The feedback was so great, I decided to move forward with getting the tooling made for the cosmetic case. After much research and visiting numerous manufactures, I found an excellent local location in Delta, British Columbia, 15 minutes from our head office, that could make the quality product I was looking for.
Q: How have you managed child care with starting this new business venture?
It was good timing in my life to start a business as both my daughters are in their teenage years and are fairly self-sufficient. My husband works with the Vancouver Fire Department and his schedule allows him to do things like grocery shop and take our girls to all of their after-school sports and activities. I am also very lucky to have an awesome network of support including a neighbour that drives my girls to school and home daily — this has truly been a blessing!
Q: How has being an entrepreneur shaped your journey as a mom?
One of the most important things I have to keep in mind, is that it was my decision to start this company and not theirs.
This means I need to be mindful of what I ask of them. For example, I do a lot of things at home including hand packing and labelling. If I ask my girls to help out, I pay them (sometimes they willingly help without being paid). Although, if they choose not to help, I have to be ok with that.
My one daughter is entering the hair and makeup work and is taking her apprenticeship at the moment, which means we have a lot of shared interests. However, I still have to define the boundaries of mom and business owner. Recently, I had to decide whether or not to take her with me on a business trip to Hollywood. As a mom, I would have LOVED to bring her, but as a business person, I knew she wasn’t ready to accompany me on this trip. It was a hard decision, and gratefully, she understood.
Q: What’s been most surprising about starting your own company?
The amount of work, truly! I try to plan out everything weekly and even daily for what I need to get done. In my previous corporate role, I felt like I could be more on top of things and plan ahead more easily. That doesn’t seem to be the case (at least yet) with running my own business. Because I am doing so much all the time, there are so many balls in the air. Everything takes longer than expected, so I try to aim for 3 to 5 tasks daily.
Also, the broader your market is, the more it costs to market to it! Public relations costs more than I expected and there are some opportunities I can’t quite participate in yet. I am consistently navigating (my way) to make the best marketing and public relations decisions.
Q: Are there challenges and/or opportunities being a woman and starting your own business?
There is a definite transition right now from men owning beauty companies to women owning them. When I was younger, there weren’t as many positions for women to move up the ladder, so it didn’t seem that women helped each other the way they do now. The support and guidance from other women has been amazing, I feel tremendously grateful. It’s been such an inspiring experience as I embark on this new career path!
Q: How does MYO Cosmetics minimize its environmental footprint?
From the beginning I wanted to be as eco-conscious as possible when creating this company. I think about the world my daughters will are grow up in and there is already so much packaging in it! Cosmetics is one of the highest contributing factors to landfills. Everything from the paper we use to partnering with the World Tree Carbon Offset Program, I am always looking for ways to minimize our carbon footprint.
I have also recently applied to be a B-Corp Company, which are companies that are using their business to do good in the world.
Q: What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Make sure you really understand the industry that you are in. Get to know the trends and where your product or service can fit in. Also do your research on the true costs and understand the finances needed — it was more than I thought it would be!
Find a mentor. I was matched with Shaina Azad, Founder of SUVA Beauty through the Forum of Women Entrepreneurs mentorship program. An hour conversation with her has saved me days (maybe years!) on how to figure out things on my own.
Q: What’s next on the journey for MYO Cosmetic Cases?
I am now at the stage where I am looking for an investor to grow the business. Currently, our main focus is on our MYO Cosmetic Case Pro Kit case for makeup artists. Therefore we are looking for makeup artist bloggers and influencers to help us reach more of that market, and then have a trickle-down effect to work with beauty bloggers to market our MYO Cosmetic Case Everyday Kit. Our cases are being used on the sets of Supergirl, The 100, Riverdale, Supernatural and several other T.V and movie shows. We’re excited to see where it will show up next!
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