Two years ago friends Lisa Di Caprio and Darci Henry opened a makeup boutique in Malvern, Penn., called Kiss and Makeup. Despite having only five employees and interns from local Philadelphia area colleges, the small business has experienced rapid growth since opening. The most recent catalyst for that growth came from the 84th Annual Academy Awards where the pair's brush cleaner and limited edition Kabuki makeup brushes were included in the "Everybody Wins at the Oscars" gift bags, which were given to runners-up in the five major categories. The pair, who also started darci by Di Caprio cosmetics which are sold in their boutique, owe a large part of this recent success to a well timed press release which was seen by the company making the gift bags at this year's Oscars. To celebrate, the small business held a gala in conjunction with the Oscar's that will benefit the charity Dress for Success.
BusinessNewsDaily spoke with co-founder Lisa Di Caprio to find out how this small Pennsylvania startup found itself at the center of Hollywood's most glamorous night.
BusinessNewsDaily: Tell us about what your business.
Lisa Di Caprio: We started out with Kiss and Makeup which is based in Malvern, Penn. We opened up a little mom-and-pop shop that was 250 square feet and it was so small it could have been a closet. We started to get popular on a local level and we moved a door down when we outgrew our space. The new space was 1,500 square feet so our growth was great. We now deal with eight manufacturers in the US only. Darci by Di Caprio Cosmetics is a full line of makeup, brushes, and tools. Kiss and Makeup is the original retailer of darci by Di Caprio Cosmetics.
BND: Why did you start your business? What opportunity did you see that you thought you could take advantage of?
LD: Darci and I had both been in abusive relationships, and decided that we needed to encourage and empower other women. That sent us on our journey. We wanted to be made in the United States to keep Americans working during the recession and provide high quality at affordable prices. We found the cosmetic industry was stale and cold. We found a niche in personable service, social conscienceless, and an overall focus on a mission – not just a business plan. We want women to discover “the beauty of believing in yourself” – our tagline.
BND: What was the one moment where you thought you had something on your hands?
LD: When we got a call from Distinctive Assets asking us if we wanted our product placed in a celebrity SWAG Bag. We had been selected to represent one of the 40 products to be included in this year's "Everybody Wins at the Oscar's" celebrity gift bag.
BND: Will the company be able to handle the increase in business?
LD: We are looking to increase distribution channel options and I have been approached, but I am hesitant to sign anything. I want to think about where I go and who holds my product because I want to protect my brand. Visuals are so important, they are almost everything. Value can be shaped just by how it is displayed. I don’t want to throw it on a shelf somewhere and hope for the best, or go to less of a value distributor and have it collect dust and devalue. Sometimes that immediate financial return is not the best financial return in the long run if you can't sustain it.
BND: What can other businesses learn from your story?
LD: You need to be extremely passionate about what you are doing. You may need to deviate from your business plan if destiny knocks. If an opportunity knocks, you may have to answer it, even if it is not in your plan. Be flexible enough to deviate from your plan if that happens. I would have never foreseen the opportunity to be one of the products in the celebrity swag bag when I was writing my business plan. You need to have the finances in place to take advantage of something that may or may not happen.
BND: What advice do you have for other businesses or entrepreneurs?
LD: Follow your dream. You have to breathe and live your business. I think about my business all the time. I love what I do and I never think I know it all, ever. I have a ton more to learn. I recommend getting out there and meeting people. Also don’t be afraid. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s a bad idea and don’t doubt yourself. The worst thing that happens is someone may say no or you may be embarrassed. Big deal. When it all boils down, have the courage to keep going. Go full steam ahead, and watch your financials closely.
Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.