Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and beauty but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marina E. Hanna, founder of C'EST LA beauty company, located in Markham ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
C'EST LA is a new handmade, micro-batch skincare and wellness company owned and operated in Markham, Ontario. With a commitment to environmentally conscious and ethical business practices. Scientifically-informed product development, and an inclusive pricing model, we strive to create beautiful products that are EASY, EFFECTIVE, and ENJOYABLE. We are young women-lead but desire to serve a diverse community.
Tell us about yourself
I've been an avid beauty enthusiast since I was a little girl and fell in love with the sensorial, tactile experience of an excellent product. I'd spend all my free time watching "beauty gurus" on YouTube and all my money in the Health & Beauty aisle at the drugstore! As I grew up, however, I developed an unhealthy dependency on makeup to hide my ongoing battle with Dermatillomania (also called Skin Picking Disorder or Excoriation). Now, research reveals that many people have it (often as comorbidity), but when I developed it at thirteen, very few understood what I was going through. I felt immense shame and humiliation at my skin picking and used makeup to hide from people who loved me. The disorder damages my skin and makes it extremely sensitive, so I began researching skincare products to help me and came up short.
That's where my fascination with product formulation began. More importantly, though, I began advocating for compassion and understanding toward those of us suffering from mental health conditions- a principle that C'EST LA is founded upon. Having a brand of my own was always a secret dream, but the opportunity to pursue it came in Fall 2020. I was a directionless new university grad in the middle of a global pandemic, trying to discern my next steps. My future business partner, Steve, knew of my ambitions in the beauty industry and approached me with an idea: to use the wax and honey from his hobby beekeeping operation to create skincare products! So, I spent eight months learning the basics of cosmetic chemistry, reading studies and clinical trials about ingredient efficacy, and trying to make my product concepts a reality. After many late nights alone in my office lab and sixty-two attempts to get the formula perfect, our first product (the Essential Serum-Cream) was born!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The product development knowledge and skills I have because of C'EST LA is my most-treasured accomplishment. The time, energy, and effort it took to learn cosmetic formulation chemistry, health and safety regulations, ingredient properties, and lab equipment were grueling and lonely. I'm proud of all the times I kept going after failing so many times in the lab. I'm perpetually grateful for the phenomenal team of people I have learned and for working beside me on the other aspects of the business. However, I knew that I needed to have full control over the products...so I'd have to do it myself!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The uncertainty and instability. I started my company knowing how saturated, competitive and cutthroat the beauty industry is. I also know that the odds are stacked against indie brands that aren't backed by mega-corporate conglomerates. It's a very tough market to penetrate, and I've definitely lost sleep worrying about how my C'EST LA beauty baby will fare in the long run!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Honestly...ask me again when I've done it! C'EST LA was founded just over a year ago and launched our first products in May 2021. When I'm in a place to share all my knowledge and hindsight, I will!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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