So, how does a 31-year-old mum and freelance makeup artist launch a quality, inclusive makeup brand that caters to a wide range of skin tones, women of colour and men?
Kesha Williams, founder of exciting new brand, ColorBlend did just that! She talks exclusively to Melanmag.com about her journey so far.
Kesha is the first to admit that she struggled to find her calling in life until relatively recently. She spent her early twenties dabbling in a variety of admin roles and worked as a freelance makeup artist for several years. “From a young age, I enjoyed doing makeup for my friends and family”, before she found some clarity about her path and decided to pursue an NVQ in Beauty Therapy. However, the basic nature of the learning in the course failed to hold her interest. She found her love of makeup waning and pursued admin roles etc, before getting pregnant and having a son in 2010.
She had a wakeup call when she was made redundant and struggled to find work immediately, and made the decision to undertake a business management course at University, during which the seeds for creating her own business were finally sown.
“It was while I was at university that it dawned on me that I didn’t want to be away from my son for hours on end, which would have been the case if I had gone back to work in the city. With makeup being my initial passion, I decided to return to it. But again, I knew the hours could be long, clients could want you on weekends or in the evenings. It was then I thought to myself, ‘if I’m not going to do the makeup, I’m going to have to produce the makeup’. That’s how the idea for ColorBlend was born.”
It was by no means plain sailing after that. As with many budding entrepreneurs, she struggled with finances, raising all of the funding herself. “I used all of my student financing for the business and did little bits and bobs; if my family gave me money I put it down towards the business. There was also the little matter of learning from scratch the ins and outs of running a beauty business. “I had to read up and educate myself on the law and legislation, safety aspect of being able to sell your products on the market.”
“If I’m not going to do the makeup, I’m going to have to produce the makeup.”
You would think after all of these hurdles, that when she finally had her products in her hands she would celebrate, but that’s when self-doubt kicked in. “I looked at the fruits of my labour and I thought “wow they’re so pretty, they’re so beautiful” and then I did nothing for months because I was afraid that once they got out there, that’s it, I’d be open to criticism. It’s extremely important to have self-belief. If you put your mind to something you can actually do it if you really want it enough.”
How is she managing the business at the moment? “For now, it’s purely an online business, so at the moment it’s relatively easy to run. When I begin to look into stock and shops in the near future, that’s when the real cost comes in, I might start looking into investors and stuff then.”
The makeup industry Is not known for being inclusive and we wondered what she thought about main stream brands attempts to cater to a wider range of skin tones.
“I find that it’s the other independent brands that are making more of an effort to include women of colour, brands like myself and MDMflow. I’ve seen that a number of bigger brands have launched darker shades in their range, but on the ground, I find that women are still having trouble finding the shops that stock their colours. It’s also about where the demand is, I was listening to a podcast the other day and they were saying that you’ll likely find more darker skin makeup in maybe Stratford or Brixton but then when you go to Wembley or Wimbledon it’s another story.”
We were intrigued to hear that the ColorBlend unique selling point is their positioning as a brand for all genders, men as well as women. “We’re the only brand, that I know of, that cater to all genders in the UK. So of course, makeup artists will use any makeup on a man, but if you’ve got men outside of a photoshoot or they’re an actor or they’re at home and they want to cover up any blemishes or what have you, it’s important that your branding is inclusive.”
“We accommodate the beauty boys in the industry as well, they’re as fierce as women, so they do want the lipstick, they do want the eyeshadow, they do want the blusher and we provide the staples of a makeup bag or grooming kit in packaging that appeals to all.”
Who does she admire as role models? “Definitely Pat McGrath, international renowned makeup artist who has just produced her own line of lipsticks, as well as Bobbi Brown.”
We look forward to a time when ColorBlend is right up there with them.