Many students are familiar with the world of lipstick, blush and eyeshadow, and frequently purchase these products. Some people can even tell you the pros and cons of a tube of their favorite mascara or which bronzer is the best to purchase for a specific skin tone. Yet, one student has an entirely different experience with cosmetics. In addition to being a cosmetic consumer, sophomore Nyela Walter co-owns a beauty product business with her mother.
Walter and her mother own a business called Aleyn Cosmetics — Aleyn is Nyela’s first name spelled backwards — which currently offers highlighter, eyeshadow, a matte liquid lip and a glossy lip.
Aleyn’s goal is to cater toward a broader audience in the cosmetic industry. Walter and her mother felt that some of the makeup they saw while shopping were inappropriate for certain students.
“[My mother] remembers going to find makeup for me, and all the Mac, Sephora and big name brands appeal to a certain crowd, like 20-year-olds,” Walter said. “She had an issue with that and said, ‘I’m not going to buy you a blush called ‘Orgasmic Blush.’’’
Aleyn Cosmetics seeks to find an alternative that appeals to more teenagers and young adults.
“We are trying to create a brand that does not sexualize,” Walter said, “and instead connect a mother and daughter, or anyone, through beauty.”
To do this, names behind Aleyn’s marketed products don’t appeal to a specific age group. Rather, they feature a personal touch.
“Each lipstick has a story behind it,” Walter said. “For example, one of our lipsticks, Elena, is named after my aunt because it’s her favorite color.”
When marketing their products, the mother-daughter team has a variety of advertising strategies that range from updating their social media accounts to throwing parties to expanding into stores.
“We have an Instagram account — Aleyncosmetics — and a Facebook,” Walter said. “We hosted a lip party at our house where we were able to have our friends be able to try [our products] on and buy them. My mom’s friend owns a store in Tennessee, so we are thinking about having our product in that store and then slowly spread out. We were also thinking about doing a pop-up in Los Angeles for a week or so.”
Though she is busy with her business, Walter’s school life isn’t put on hold. Walter has learned how to balance a business and her education, but with it comes compromise.
“It’s definitely stressful,” Walter said. “There were times when my mom was like, ‘Oh can you help me with this?’ but then I have homework. It’s hard because I know I want to put the business first, but at the same time I want to put my school first, but I’ve gotten kind of a routine. I can really focus in on the business on the weekends and slowly do it during the week when I can just focus on my school work.”
In addition to learning about time management and balance, Walter has matured and learned a lot about organization and interaction from operating her business.
“During the party, I had to sales pitch to people and that forced me to do some communication, like how to pitch your product in a timely, efficient manner, which also builds very good speaking skills,” she said. “I’ve had to learn organization and math, too, because you have to figure out how much things cost and what to charge, so that you’re making money, but it’s not too expensive.”
With having her mother double as her business partner, Walter’s relationship with her has grown.
“We definitely get stressed out at each other sometimes,” Walter said. “But she’s my best friend. We both give each other tips, and we’re good listeners. I know the current trends, so I can help her with that and she can help me with the business side, which is cool at how we balance each other out. We’ve been able to learn from each other. I think it’s made us closer.”
“You can’t be afraid of what other people think,” Walter advised other aspiring entrepreneurs. “And their opinion on [your idea] as long as you know you want to do it, you can do it.”