It all started with my innocuous declaration, "I want to start my own makeup line." Little did I know, at the age of 13 1/2, what starting my own company would entail.
I've grown up in the beauty industry. My dad is a celebrity hairstylist, my mom has been president for beauty organizations, together they've owned salons for over 20 years and have their own haircare line. Being in the beauty industry, I've learned a lot about hair and skin care by osmosis. Dinnertime conversations have ranged from sulfates in products, recycling efforts to the latest presidential debate. I've picked up on things.
I honestly imagined it would be as simple as making the decision to do it, picking a design, deciding on colors and then I'd be off. Not quite.
I first had to determine my reason for starting this company. What made me, at almost 14, a makeup expert? I wasn't even really wearing much more than mascara (for fun) and lipgloss. What was my motivation? What were my goals? Secondly, I had to identify my clients. What are their age groups? What are their interests? Where are they working? What are their needs?
I had to make decisions about color palettes. My parents teach the art of Feng Shui - so, of course the concept of energy and color came into play. What season will I be introducing the line? What's the upcoming season and the fashion designs being shown? SS15? FW15? SS16?
What ingredients would I use? Which ingredient would I absolutely not allow? What would my packaging look like? How would my brand be represented? What would my collaterals look like?
What social media outlets would I use? What marketing/PR efforts would I try? Aside from using my parents' salons, how would I get the word out about my product? What would be the design/layout for my website?
My mom told me I would have to contribute my own money. As she put it, "This is not a democracy, however, I'm a benevolent dictator. You will be required to offer all input and I will guide you."
Once the company started to realize a net profit, where would I donate money? Which charitable organization is aligned with my values?
At times I am overwhelmed with the day-to-day operations. I started my makeup line last year, my sophomore year of high school. My makeup line, Seiji, has been utilized on several television shows, on commercial shoots, and on photo shoots for magazines. I receive the sales reports on a weekly basis, the profit and loss statements monthly and must be concerned about the growth of the product. Why did an eye shadow that I just knew would sell well not do as well as I imagined? Did the makeup artists receive education on the product? Did I market it well enough? Did I use the right model?
I have already begun the process of expanding the line. I have added an additional 30 SKUs to the original 20. I have chosen two separate lines: one for the younger group and one for brides and clients in the salons. I am entertaining adding additional items to the line, outside of the makeup.
Starting my own company has been an amazing learning experience where I am utilizing my math skills, writing skills, as well as social marketing and displays. My time is now divided between fashion magazines, shows, travel and school. The growth of my Seiji Collection is limitless - I am excited about the next addition. Keep posted for my website and new products.