The cosmetic, fashion and beauty industries make up billions of dollars within the modern business kingdom. The difference in the more recent chapter of the story is that everyday people like ourselves also have a chance to come to the ball.
Read on to see our favourite examples of when rags have turned to riches in less cliché versions of this tale. Who knows, you may very well take some inspiration and come up with your own million-dollar idea!
1. Humble First Intentions: Michelle Phan’s Youtube Channel
Online engagement through video is one of the most successful ways to garner a marketable following these days. It allows closer connection between the blogger or the company and their audience, almost like they could be friends.
For Michelle Phan that connection began as a 7-minute tutorial on ‘how to apply natural makeup’ and has now led to multi-million dollar contracts and close to 7.5 million subscribers. Experiencing a financially and emotionally turbulent upbringing, Phan started out wanting to help her struggling mother pay the bills, not at all imagining it would be through YouTube.
As her videos continued to build an audience she stocked up on makeup from throw-out bins of cheap drugstores and consistently delivered creative content which featured a plethora of themes and characters. Phan has now launched her own L’Oreal makeup range and its been said she was paid 1 million dollars for 20 hours of content from Google. Michelle Phan is a true Cinderella and an aspiration of beauty bloggers all around the world.
2. DIY success story: SPANX
The remarkable story of how Spanx creator, Sara Blakely, who at age 27 invested her $5000 of life savings to now be a part of the billionaire’s club, is inspiration for any budding fashion entrepreneur. Blakely began her journey of success due to her own desire to invent a better product for her own needs.
In the Florida heat as a door-to-door fax machine saleswoman, she was seeking pantyhose without seamed toes that didn’t roll up when she cut them. Blakely began testing Spanx on her own female relatives and quickly went from launching into multiple department stores and expanding her product lines.
Two decades later Blakely has ‘Oprah’ status. She has also been known to say she is looking to design the most comfortable high heel in the world before she retires – watch this space.
3. Perfecting a Popular Product: Arganic
In the cut-throat beauty business, there are countless companies trying to make money from the “product of the moment”. Whilst many consumers will search far and wide for lowest prices, others will seek brands that have taken steps to refine the product, improve it’s quality and/or the ethics of its manufacturing.
For Dana Elemara the founder of Arganic, an organic argan oil company in the UK, refinement is what has taken her brand to the shelves of Selfridges and seen her awarded numerous entrepreneurial awards. Elemara’s initial path into the argan oil business came through wanting to combine her love of quality food products, her Middle Eastern roots and business thirst.
While she also sells Arganic as a food product, it’s the cosmetics industry where she makes her money. Arganic now employs over 600 Berber women (the indigenous people of Morocco) and Elemara continues to rise against the prejudices facing female businesswomen in Northern Africa. She’s a forward thinking modern day beauty entrepreneur who shows quality can lead to quantity.
4. Marketable use for an age-old product: Blotting Paper
The star of this example is not actually the entrepreneur but the product itself. If you asked a man what to do with it, he may pull it out of a handbag and try to roll a cigarette with it. The history of blotting paper, known in Japanese as aburatorigami, dates back thousands of years when it was the wasted by-product of gold leaf manufacture.
It was several hundred years ago that its oil absorbing qualities were discovered and it was used by Geishas to fix their makeup in the poorly ventilated tea houses of old Japan. Now found in perfect rectangles inside of a sleek storage case, makeup giants like Shiseido are now making plenty of profits from an age-old Japanese beauty tool that may have otherwise ended up as pulp.
5. Beauty in the 4th dimension: Metaverse Makeovers
On the home grown front, it’s Aussie lass Thea Baumann who has caught our attention and recently secured $750k to commercialise her new wearable technology devices. More specifically Baumann’s company, Metaverse Makeovers is developing fake nails that interact with a digital app to create 3D holograms.
Baumann has tapped into the change of communication between girls of the social media and the Internet generation. Her big idea hit her in the nail salon, watching the female customers constantly fidgeting with their phones whilst engaged in conversation. She’s got her limits set high, looking to take on the industry in China and learning the language to help her do it.
Rings, necklaces and wristbands are all on the cards for the wearable technology industry, but it’s the Metaverse Makeovers manicure of the future that has our ears pricking up the most.
Are you a fan of any of the entrepreneurs or products we’ve talked about above? Do you have any other favourites we need to know about? Let us know in the comments below and earn BWA Dollars to spend on rewards. (p.s lots of fantastic new products have just been added!)
About the author: Bridie Walsh is a fashion, beauty, and pop culture enthusiast with an in-depth knowledge of the medical-cosmetic industry. She believes that art in its many forms should always be streamlined with life.