Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alexandra Potora, CEO of VREA Cosmetics, located in Newport Beach, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
VREA Cosmetics is a US indie brand with a start-up portfolio of proprietary, high-performing, multi-tasking, prestige-quality makeup and skincare products that are sold at masstige prices. These products were formulated with sustainably and ethically sourced performance ingredients by elite cosmetic chemists in the United States and are vegan, leaping bunny certified cruelty free, clean, fragrance-free, and highly innovative. The VREA customer is the human who craves performance, and multifunctional products, cares about the integrity of formulation, ethical practices, and chooses to support a female immigrant small business.
Tell us about yourself
The idea for VREA sparked in 2017 after I became inspired by my online community to create makeup with active skincare benefits, ideologically driven by the consumers. Originally, the name of the company was going to be WANT Cosmetics, but ultimately we arrived at VREA. VREA (a vrea) in my native Romanian language means "to want." I am a licensed esthetician, makeup artist, and skincare fanatic, and in 2017, I turned 33. That's when I noticed that makeup simply wasn't "sitting" and looking as smoothly as it did a decade earlier, and that got me thinking… "is this makeup I wear all day actually doing anything for my skin other than cover it?"
While there was no shortage of companies claiming to bridge the gap between makeup and skincare, there was still an obvious need for more transparency, performance-driven formulas, and sustainability. The constant hunger for learning and creating, innovating, and building a community is what motivates me every day and helps "push" me on the days when things get tough. It's a promise I made to all who follow me, and there was a promise to succeed that I made to myself when I immigrated to America. I'm old school, and so I live by my word.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Having customers on their 20th order in less than 2 years of launching is one of the proudest accomplishments for me because that tells me they love VREA and they love the products we have so far.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
There are a few things, in my opinion:
- Channeling motivation and pushing through even in the darkest of times and through the most disappointing moments.
- Learning not to take things personally, thickening the skin, and compartmentalizing.
- Striking a balance between learning about your competitors without allowing what They do to sway what You are about.
- And if you're hearing "no," you're simply not talking with the right person.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- This is for the nerds like me out there who love science and the psychology of human behavior: Abraham Maslow was a scientist passionate about understanding what motivates people. He believed that people have motivations unrelated to rewards but rather certain needs. When one need is satisfied, a person will seek to satisfy the next need, and so on. So he created a famous chart known as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The chart looks like a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid are the physiological needs, aka a person's basic survival. That includes food, water, shelter, and rest. The layer above it is safety and security. The layer on top of that is for social needs: family, friendships, and intimate relationships. The next layer is for Esteem needs. That's your self-esteem, confidence, and accomplishments. And the last layer that sits at the top of the pyramid is called self-actualization. That's where creativity and achieving your full potential has a home. In order to reach the top of the pyramid, we first have to make sure the layers below it are robust enough. Executing our passions without satisfying the basic layers of this pyramid would be like placing a brick on top of a box made out of tissue paper and expecting it not to collapse. To fully experience your passion and live in your purpose, you must first have your priorities in order.
- Most people focus on the IDEA, but I urge all entrepreneurs not to forget about the TIMING of a business as well. A great idea executed at the wrong time is just as detrimental as generating a crappy idea when the time is right. If consumers are not ready for it, it won't matter how brilliant it is; they won't flock to it.
- Assess your finances. Starting any business has a price, so you need to determine what the costs are and how you're going to cover them. Many start-ups fail because they run out of money before turning a profit, so this is VERY IMPORTANT. A very simple formula is: Fixed Costs ÷ (Average Price - Variable Costs) = Break-Even Point. This formula will help you figure out the minimum performance your business must achieve to break even and avoid losing money.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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