Archive for Beauty

Blair Files

http://blairfls.wixsite.com/illustrations/about

When we were little – 4 or 5 years old – my cousin Blair and I liked sitting on the rocky coast of Maine with paper and crayons, drawing what we imagined to be grand scenes of the mighty ocean; to anyone else, those pictures looked like a bunch of scribbles. As the years past, my pictures were still just scribbles – I have roughly the same degree of artistic talent as an elephant holding a paint brush in its trunk; Blair was a different story: it quickly became apparent that she had real talent as an illustrator. She loved to draw and she was good at it. Over the years she also picked up talent with paint and sculpture.

Jump forward to when we were a pair of 18-year-olds trying to make one of the biggest choices of our lives: COLLEGE. I was bound for the liberal arts, Blair for the fines arts; we both got our first choice: for me, Grove City College, for Blair, the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. We were all so proud of her: despite the fact that no one in the recorded history of our family had ever done anything as impractical as going to art school, we were blown away by her talent and thrilled that she had been accepted to what is arguably one of the greatest art schools in the world.

So, we both packed our bags and shipped off for school. But while I immediately felt that I had made the right choice, Blair was plagued by doubts: not doubts about her choice to be an artist, but with questions about whether she was ready for this. She decided she wasn’t. After two weeks on campus she realized that she had a lot of personal growing to do and that RISD was not the place to do it – not yet, anyway. Of course, it was all a bit more complicated than that, but for the sake of brevity I won’t go into more detail.

Thus, Blair found herself taking a spontaneous gap year. In all honesty, she had always wanted to take a year off before college, but now that she was doing so, she didn’t have a plan. But these things always seem to work out in the end: she was offered the chance to go to Scotland to work for six months – something else she had always wanted to do. The only problem: travel is expensive!!!

But, undaunted as ever, Blair came up with a solution: she was an artist, and she was going to support herself as such! She had already created a large and impressive portfolio of original pieces, so she launched a website to sell prints of her work to support her trip abroad. She also started working for commission. 

Anyway, skipping ahead a little bit: Blair made it to Scotland where she had the incredible opportunity to work for YoungLife Ministries. In her work, she saw the incredible darkness that comes with a life without Jesus Christ: she saw kids who desperately needed Christ, and new that she was called to share Him with them. But it was very well to do so for six months in a youth camp, but what about back in America? She was going to be an artist, not a minister.

Well, like I said, Blair knew that she had a lot of growing to do: and grow she did. While she was in Scotland she had the chance to explore what it meant to use one’s talents for God; she learned that our gifts are not our own, but are to be used in service to the Lord. What did that mean for a 19-year-old who wanted to draw, but who also wanted to do more than illustrate children’s Bibles?

Eventually she found the answer: she decided not to go back to RISD but instead to enroll in the University of Delaware which had a program in Visual Communication – there, she would not only get a degree in fine art, but also in communications and visual media, learning the skills she would need to communicate truth through her art. She recognized that art isn’t just about creating beauty: it’s about creating the kind of beauty that points the viewer to the author of all things beautiful.

Today, Blair is a Junior at University of Delaware, still working to complete her degree. She is also still selling work through her website to help support her studies. Her story as an entrepreneur is still in it’s early chapters: much of it is still unwritten. Thus far, she has had enough success to allow her to fund the studies that we are confident will one day allow her to share the message that we are all called to spread. We don’t know what she will draw, who she will draw for, or what she will say through her art. But we know that she as chosen a profession that is, above all, about communication, and that she has the greatest story of all to communicate. Through her website and commissioned work she has already been able to start reaching people – now all that’s left is to watch her grow!

I like Blair’s story because it serves an in important reminder of the fact that entrepreneurship doesn’t have to mean something huge: sometimes its something as small as selling art to fund travel. Its also important to remember that as Christians we have a higher calling in whatever we do: to serve the Lord. Blair became an entrepreneur because she was a broke almost-college-student who needed to get to Scotland. Once there, she discovered that her true calling really was art, not business. Now, she’s learning what she wants to say with her art and how she wants to say it. Will she one day go into business for herself as an artist/entrepreneur? Who can say: I personally think that art is a form of entrepreneurship…. The important thing is that we serve the Lord in all we do – be it painting scenes of the cross or painting scenes of nature; running a “Christian Business” or running a “Secular business” that operates on Christian principles. I believe that finding ways to serve the Lord in all that we do is the highest calling of any entrepreneur and that turning our work into a way of serving God is in itself an entrepreneurial act.

Blair also reminds us that we don’t necessarily have to “paint the cross” to serve the Lord. I look at the things she creates and see the Master’s hand: whether she is painting the portrait of a child of God or something silly that just popped into her head, I see the kind of true beauty that is precious not because of who created it or what they created, but because it came from the hand of a woman who loves God and who knows who her talent is from and what it is for.

Birchbox

For $10 a month you can get designer make-up sent right to your door. This seems like a dream come true to me, and I have found a way to accomplish this, thanks to Birchbox.

A monthly subscription service that was founded in New York City by two Harvard graduates, Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, in 2010.  The company started trying to get funding and investors and managed to get over $1.4 million from venture groups that helped the business go from an idea to a multi-million dollar company. With over a million subscribers and over 800 partners the business has become a new way people think about buying make-up. Instead of having to go spend over a hundred dollars at a cosmetics store, we’re able to get samples of the make-up we like sent to us. Then they introduced the feature of being able to customize your box. This means that if you really like a product you are able to get products like it, or by the same brand.

The goal of the subscription sample boxes are to get people to buy the full size product from the retailer, and 50% of Birchbox users did go on to do so. Another feature that customizes the product to the consumer is Birchbox Points. Every time a customer purchases the full size product, refers a friend, or purchasing a box as a gift for a friend, would earn them points which they could put towards their boxes and buying products.

Birchbox also partnered with Instagram and Soldsie to open an Instagram shop. This means that customers who were interested in Birchbox products could comment with a hashtag (#birchboxcart) and it would automatically be entered into their cart on Birchbox.

This company has capitalized on both the social and business side of their idea and it has clearly paid off for them.

The Honest Company

When you see the name Jessica Alba you probably think of her as an actress, but she also is an incredible entrepreneur! Founder of The Honest Company, which is all about providing clean, safe, non-toxic products for families to use with their kids. As a mom herself, she saw the need for products that performed well and were “honestly free” of anything that could harm.

The company has adopted a “Honestly Free Guarantee” that promises that all of their products are made without “health-compromising components”. This sets it apart because their main goal is to keep kids safe and healthy, and not worry as much about the money or style.

Offering everything from laundry detergent, to diapers, to cleaning products, we are able to see how this business has grown and expanded from just products for kids, to products that the whole family can use. She also started her own beauty company that was also built on the foundation of clean and safe products. Her beauty company, Honest Beauty, opened its first physical location in 2015 and is now a popular brand among beauty gurus.

Alba shows that you aren’t stuck in one realm or career, you can be successful in many different areas as long as you are passionate.

The Rent the Runway Revolution: How Two Women Changed the Fashion Industry for Good

In 2009, two young women attending Harvard Business School met for their weekly coffee and business brainstorming session. Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss both knew they wanted to start a business together, but for many months they brainstormed ideas which never seemed to stick. However, on this particular afternoon, Jennifer Hyman mentioned to Fleiss that her sister would be attending a wedding next weekend, but had nothing to wear. She voiced the frustration shared by women across America, that it is difficult to justify spending hundreds of dollars on a dress you only wear a few times. As she said this, she came up with a business idea which would solve this problem and revolutionize the market of high end women’s fashion.

Jenny Fleiss (left) and Jennifer Hyman (right)

Hyman and Fleiss conceptualized a business model where they would partner with different well-known, high-end designers from around the world and rent these designer dresses out to women for a few days for a fraction of the cost of buying one of these dresses. These two young women started out by buying dresses in their own sizes and going around to different college campuses on the weekends of big events and putting up flyers and sending out emails announcing that the female students could rent these designer dresses for a reduced price and simply return them after the event. With each campus these two went to, their business model proved very popular, and with each event, they continued to refine and adjust their model until they landed on the current business model of Rent the Runway. Since 2009, Rent the Runway has grown from a few designer dresses advertised through flyers on college campuses into a $15 million corporation with an extremely user friendly app and a variety of supplementary services.

One things which makes Hyman and Fleiss stand out as unique in the world of innovation and entrepreneurship is their approach to founding a startup. While many young entrepreneurs look for a problem in their field of study or expertise which they can construct a solution for, Hyman and Fleiss started with a problem they simply observed, despite their lack of knowledge in the fields of fashion or technology.  However, by recording customer reactions to their product and collecting customer testimonials, these young women were able to get the designers on board and soon had enough funding to hire people with expertise in analytics, technology, fashion, and customer relations in order to create the best business possible.

Even eight years removed from its founding, Rent the Runway is an incredible company to watch innovate and expand. Because of the founders’ passion for giving women the opportunity to have that “Cinderella experience” and look elegant, extravagant, confident or professional for an affordable price, the company continues to grow its inventory, expand it market, and offer additional services, such as makeup and jewelry tips depending on the dress or outfit you rent.

Hyman and Fleiss at the opening of their first store

Hyman and Fleiss have also sought to optimize the customer experience by offering free shipping and dry cleaning, along with spending a great deal of time and money on analytics. This has allowed them to find what colors and styles customers prefer, along with how long customers like rentals to last so that they can give the customer the best, most convenient experience possible. Rent the Runway is constantly offering new features, different dresses, and featuring a variety of both well-known and new designers, which keeps their business in a constant state of growth and expansion.

Hyman and Fleiss are truly inspiring to all young women looking to be entrepreneurs. They actively thought about problems, and rather than waiting for funds or investors to back their idea, they eagerly engaged their clientele, pivoted based on the feedback they received, and then sought out investors and designers with confidence in their product and the data and testimonies to back it up. These two women are constantly pursuing excellence, passionate about their product and their clients, and dedicated to inspiring future women entrepreneurs.

 

Leanna’s Hair

Leanna Archer was just 9 years old when she began bottling and selling her own hair pomade to friends and family. Based on her great-grandmother’s secret recipe, Archer’s line of all-natural hair products has expanded to include a variety of hair cleansers, conditioners, and treatments. The now-17-year-old serves as the CEO of her company and has been recognized by prominent business publications like Forbes and Success Magazine. She even started the Leanna Archer Education Foundation to help build schools and safe learning environments for underprivileged children in Haiti.

Unsatisfied with the simple status of a CEO of a six-figure company as a teenager, Archer founded a charitable organization, the Leanna Archer Education Foundation, which provides education and food to poverty-stricken children in Haiti. Leanna first visited Haiti in 2008, and she was shocked to see so many starving children living in the streets. Her next project was to start the Leanna Archer Foundation, which currently supports 200 children in Haiti. The foundation’s goal is to start a school to educate more children.

 

Actress Turned Entrepreneur

lauren-conrad-1Lauren Conrad is a well-known actress and reality-TV show star however most people do not know that she has become a successful young entrepreneur, owning two clothing lines as well as a book franchise and two websites. She used her fame and publicity to help launch her first clothing line and demonstrate that she wasn’t just the next star to create a business on a whim, instead she was committed and passionate about where she wanted her business to go. In 2007, she launched her first clothing line, The Lauren Conrad Collection. Although it ended up being a dismal failure, she learned and grew through her mistakes and launched a second, successful clothing line in 2009, LC by Lauren Conrad, in conjunction with the retailer Kohls. Since then, she has launched another clothing company, Paper Crown, written eight books, and started two websites.

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In 2013, Lauren and her friend Hannah Skvarla were inspired to start a non-profit named the Little Market. It is a company that empowers women artisans and provides a market for their products to be sold in order to provide for their families. Today, The Little Market partners with 26 artisans in 16 countries to carry their products and they hope to grow that number even more.

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Lauren has found much success with her products and websites, however she is not stopping there. She said stated that she no interest in returning to television, instead she wants to continue on with her businesses and keep doing what she loves. Lauren Conrad is a millennial entrepreneur who gives a wonderful example of using fame and success to get where she wanted to be, entrepreneurial, and then taking her success from there and giving back to others with dreams just like hers.

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Her personal website: https://laurenconrad.com/

The Little Market website: https://www.thelittlemarket.com/

 

All Natural Hair Product

Leanna Archer was only nine years old when neighbors and friends started asking what hair products she used, and where they could get some for themselves. She started packaging samples of her Haitian great-grandmother’s secret hair product recipes in Gerber jars and giving them out to friends until people began showing up at her door with money asking how much they could get with the money they had to offer.

Fast forward to age eleven, where Leanna was selling more than ever before and launched her initial brand, Leanna’s Hair. Her all-natural hair products, with no parabens, sulfates, or other harsh chemicals, started selling all across the country and expanded to world-wide. Surprisingly, one of her top buying countries is Singapore. A few years later she re-branded as Leanna’s Essentials, which has remained the brand’s name.

Leanna’s Haitian background influenced her greatly, and in 2008 she visited the country for the first time. After seeing the poverty and pain, she started the Leanna Archer Education Foundation, which supported over 200 Haitian children with their education and basic needs. She became the youngest person to ever ring the NASDAQ opening bell on Wall Street at age 13, and her foundation was endorsed by Janet Jackson. Leanna has also been featured on numerous major media outlets, including Forbes, CNN, Time, ABC, and NBC to name just a few.

When she’s not selling her products, Leanna is travelling the country as a motivational speaker and guest lecturer at universities. Her hope is to become a politician, and use her influence to help impact the lives of even more people. What started as a secret recipe from her great-grandmother grew to become a multi-faceted empire. While no longer alive, her great-grandmother saw much of Leanna’s success, and was proud to the very end. Leanna found a need in natural hair care, and that opportunity has become a chance to change the world.

Snap Caps – Maddie Bradshaw

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Maddie Bradshaw was worth her first million at only 13 years old.  At 16, she was selling over 60,000 of her unique necklaces a month and making over $1.6 million annually.

Her idea for these unique, interchangeable, bottle cap necklaces started out as simple school locker decorations.  At 10 years old her uncle had given her 50 old bottle caps.  She decorated them, attached magnets to them, and when her friends saw them they all wanted some.  This inspired Maddie to create different designs with bottle caps.

She created Snap Caps.  Snap Caps are necklaces with metal pendants on them to attract and magnetize bottle caps.  Every bottle cap has some kind of symbol, letter, or design so that a person can swap different caps out depending on the style they want to wear for the day.

Maddie found immediate success with her necklaces.  In nearly every store she launched them in they all sold out.  As her business continued to grow and she made her first million at 13, she attracted the attention of the national media and ended up being interviewed on ABC and was able to pitch her project on Shark Tank.  The Sharks loved her idea so much that THREE of them invested into her company!

Currently 19 years old, Maddie continues to grow and expand her business.  She has said, “The great thing about our company is that it’s growing with me.  As my tastes change, so will the products.”  Maddie has also published a book called You Can Start a Business, Too.  Her advise to other young entrepreneurs like her is to, “Follow your passion. If you come up with an idea and you love it, chances are other people will, too.”

Inside voices? No, Outside Voices

Usually a great idea starts small. When you think of  the word “small” one of the things that comes to mind is childhood. Millennial Entrepreneur Tyler Haney reminds us all of our mother’s words to use “inside voices” in her clever, hip, and trendy line Outdoor Voices. Her clever company is based off the idea that fitness should be freed from the competitive world and thus make exercise a lifestyle. With that key idea in mind she has come up with a spunky and trendy line of great athleisure and athletic wear. All of her designs are simplistic and sleep thus giving the consumer the freedom to mix and match from any of her selections. What’s so incredible about Haney and her business though is how she brought Outdoor Voices into the highly competitive market of athletic wear. She started the idea at the Parsons School of Design, continued on to the Silicon Valley, and after pitching some 70 times landed a $7 million deal to start the business. However, it wasn’t the money that made Outdoor Voices successful, it was Haney’s ambition and smart marketing tactics that truly made her sight stand out. She implemented the idea of using celebrity fans and icons such as Lenah Dunham and Gwyneth Paltrow to help expand the knowledge and desire of her specific brand. Haney’s business is now a big and booming enterprise with a future as bright as the sun.

Bringing Back Classy Swimwear

rey-swimwear-modest-swimming-suits71f9323eb27d9e49f01a3d8d764f067fIt  was a hot summer in Hollywood, and between acting gigs Jessica Ray found herself spending most of her time by the poolside to meet up with friends and escape the blistering heat. After being frustrated by observing how objectified women are in bikinis, Jessica decided to boycott her normal scanty swimsuits for something with more character and coverage.

After surfing the web for hours, Jessica gave up. There weren’t any decently modest swimsuits available on the market that didn’t look like they belonged on a grandmother. Seriously, what’s so hard about making a cute, classic, semi-conservative swimsuit that’s appealing to the younger generation? Jessica was determined, if she couldn’t buy a cute swimsuit- she’d make her own. She had no sewing or design experience, but that’s not a problem for a true entrepreneur!

Jessica isn’t alone. Other people in Hollywood are interested in sporting classier swimwear; there is a healthy demand and Jessica decided to satisfy that want with from a creative and youthful approach.  8 years ago, Jessica Ray swimwear debuted their first swimwear line.

Jessica Rey swimsuits are becoming increasingly popular.  The brand is inspired by the debatably the most iconic woman of all time: Audrey Hepburn. The line strives to uphold the value and dignity of women through their designs. Classy doesn’t have to look frumpy, and Jessica Rey swimwear exists to promote that vision with a vintage vibe.