If you’re a beauty maven who has tested out makeup tutorials based on TV characters, organized your top products into a stunning organization system that rivals any Sephora makeup counter, and have the latest and greatest makeup apps downloaded on your phone, you might be interested in a career in the makeup industry. Perhaps you’ve even considered launching a line of your ideal beauty products. In this week’s How to Quit Your Day Job series, we chat with Jenn Kapahi, the co-founder of beauty brand trèStiQue. Kapahi shares how she turned her beauty knowledge into a full-time career.
Meet the Makeup Pro: jenn kapahi
Before launching trèStiQue with her co-founder Jack Bensason, Kapahi worked in the beauty industry for top brands like Bloomingdale’s and Revlon. During her time at those companies, Kapahi built a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of customer experience, product development, and marketing for beauty products. “With a full array of experiences, I was extremely prepared to take on the launch of my own brand and all of the challenges that come with it,” says Kapahi. In June 2015, she and Bensason launched trèStiQue. Two years later, the company announced a retail partnership with Sephora, all while Kapahi navigates motherhood after having her first child.
1. Take your past into your present. Every job you have before you start your own company is an opportunity to learn and acquire new skills that will no doubt prepare you for being your own boss. Kapahi learned about customer expectations and managing a large team while working for Bloomingdale’s. At Revlon, she focused on marketing, advertising, and content creation, as well as a go-to-market strategy. While working at the Intercos Group, she dove deep into trend forecasting and product development. She credits these experiences for helping her build trèStiQue into a successful company.
2. Find your ideal partner. Co-founders Kapahi and Bensason, who knew each other from working in the beauty industry and have a combined 22 years of experience, were both at the same point in their careers — ready to start a new chapter in their professional lives. “Jack and I complement each other’s skill sets quite well,” says Kapahi. While Kapahi is a guru at consumer, product, and marketing, Bensason knows everything about the supply chain and operations. Possessing different career skills makes for an unstoppable working duo.
3. Develop what you want. Kapahi loves makeup and has tried, evaluated, and tested almost every product on the market. She wanted to create makeup that suited her busy lifestyle. Instead of lugging a heavy makeup bag, she wanted to simplify her beauty routine while still using products she loved. To that end, Kapahi and Bensason developed makeup products that are two-in-one, lightweight, and easily refillable. For example, the trèStiQue Lip Crayons ($28) include a matte lipstick on one end and a shiny lip balm on the other end. You can apply the lip balm under the lipstick for added moisture or on top to turn the lip color into a shiny gloss. “We decided to launch our line with 100 percent custom developed products, which is pretty rare in our industry. Most brands pick up stock products and/or packaging to save on costs and time,” says Kapahi.
4. Maintain a healthy work-life balance. Working for herself allows Kapahi the flexibility to work on her own schedule. “I work from home on Fridays so that I can take my baby to swim class and fit in a workout — two things that bring me peace and happiness. I also make sure I leave work early every day to take a break for Roman’s bedtime and then go back to work once he is sleeping,” says Kapahi. Her husband Nick, also an entrepreneur, and Kapahi’s mom (who lives with the couple) are there to help support Kapahi in her work-life balance.
5. Have a plan in place. Kapahi’s best advice for creative young women who want to start their own business but fear making the leap: “If you set yourself up for success, stay organized, and give it 120 percent, it will absolutely happen.” Her practical steps for getting to your dream job are creating a plan for leaving your day job that makes good financial sense, setting aside some savings or a loan to support yourself, and keeping your expectations in check.
6. Cultivate your customers. Part of what Kapahi loves about her work life is creating first-to-market products that started as a germ of an idea. Through beauty events, in-store trainings, and creating how-to content, Kapahi loves meeting customers and beauty bloggers. “I love building one-on-one relationships with bloggers so that they can understand that I’m just like them — a real modern women looking to simplify her life!” says Kapahi. Developing these critical consumer relationships are important to her company and are crucial to her success.
7. Roll with the punches. Running your own company means communicating clearly with your team, building a great group of employees, and dealing with challenges. “There are so many challenges that arise every single day, so we have learned to let the little things go and to roll with the punches. If you keep a sense of humor, it helps to put things into perspective,” says Kapahi.
Perfect Your Skills
1. How to Build a Successful YouTube Channel Online Class ($29): Makeup videos are a huge way to get consumers to understand how to use your products. This online class will teach you the basics for building high-quality video content that’s engaging.
2. Tresscove: If you’ve been wanting to try out making your own video and photo beauty tutorials, check out this beauty app. Within minutes, you can create custom content that can be shared with beauty bloggers, friends, and beauty experts.
DL It: Free on iOS
3. Design Your Brand Identity Online Class ($29): Instructor Meg Lewis will show you the ropes for developing your brand’s mission statement, creating a mood board to solidify your brand’s identity, and what colors and fonts represent your brand.
What’s your dream career? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know, and we could feature it in the next column!
(Photos via trèStiQue; Photos of Jennifer Kapahi via Naomi Mdudu)