Today on the show we’re learning from Aisha, she’s the founder of Bossy Cosmetics. And boy oh boy has she been on the journey!
This conversation is just SO good and sprinkled with so many learnings.
After a successful 20-year career in the corporate finance industry, Aisha was diagnosed with severe hypertension and felt completely burned out. She dreamed of creating a beloved beauty brand that cared about how women felt starting from the inside and moving outward. Bossy Cosmetics is a mission-driven color cosmetics brand committed to empowering ambitious women to feel, look, and do good with a line of ethically made lipsticks, eyeshadows, and eyeliners.
If you’re like me and wondering how she managed to trademark the name Bossy Cosmetics, get ready to hear this wild story!
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Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
So as you said, my name is Aisha Fatima Dozie. Everybody calls me Aisha. I am founder and CEO of Bossy Cosmetics, which is one of the great honors of my life to get to work on something that sits at the intersection of my own purpose and my passion prior to starting bossy cosmetics.
00:04:26Edit I think it's important to say this and then it will tell you really why the company exists. I was a 20 year veteran as an investment banker and people think, Okay, investment banking, she's a woman of privilege, but not at all. That is not how my life started. Not at all actually, I was, you know, raised very meager means, but through a series of luck and hard work and tenacity and grit and resilience and all of those good things. You know, I had this career but burnt out at the end of it. I'm also a mom of three sons and one of the key lessons I've learned along that 20 some odd year journey of trying to multitask and really climb this bladder of accomplishment was that Most of the things that you need are self built there. You you are enough and many times as women, we feel like we need just that one extra class, that one extra job, that one extra referral before we're ready. And my, my, one of my biggest learnings is that you know what your enough, you know, when we're, when we're 50% of the way, we're actually probably 100% of the way already. And so one of my biggest lessons learned over my career is that confidence hacks are super critical in getting you to get the confidence to do what you need to do.
00:05:35Edit And one of my biggest ways of building confidence was actually wearing lipstick. It was my thing where I would hide behind a color and that would be my thing. I wear a bold red when I had a customer meeting because I wanted people to really notice me when I was speaking or I would like to have a smoky eye was always my thing and I called it war paint, putting on warpaint, that kind of let me know, okay, game on, let's go. And so why does bossy cosmetics exist? I wanted to share kind of the background because our unique insight is that we exist solely to ignite confidence in women who self identify as being ambitious and we do that through high performance cosmetics. We are focused on high performance women and that's what we do. We I saw that as a complete white space in the beauty industry where everybody was focused on just products, products, products, products, products. But I didn't feel like any single company spoke to the woman behind her face. And so that's what bossy cosmetics does. We make great products for your face, but we really want to engage and empower you to look good, to feel good and to do good.
00:06:38Edit Amazing. I love it so much. I'm so excited to dig into the background of this story more, take me back to pre 2018 before you launched and this moment of you kind of like feeling burnt out at work and like what the actual transition was there to starting an actual business. Yeah. So yeah, I burnt out and I was feeling ill. So it didn't happen. It wasn't one sort of grand day where I burnt out. I had been feeling ill, but I thought it was just, you know, busy, so many things you kind of, again, as I said, I'm a mom of three kids at the time. I was running investment banking for the West Africa region for the largest african bank. So I was really busy and I was traveling all of the time, so I thought, you know, I'm just tired, I didn't really pay attention and then one day I felt so ill, I rushed to the hospital and my doctor basically said, listen, you have high blood pressure, you are severely hypertensive. And my father years before that had passed away from heart failure. And so for me that was just like a come to jesus moment of honey, this is, there's no job, there's no lifestyle, there's no amount of money worth running yourself to the ground who's gonna raise your three babies.
00:07:47Edit And so that was my moment of, okay, this is not just sort of grinding through being tired, which a lot of women do right, we're feeling exhausted, we're feeling kind of ratty, but we just show up every day, show up every day for our family, for our kids, for work for everything, but we forget ourselves. And so for me that was an abrupt call. I quit my job, it took a year off, moved to California, which is where I live now in Palo alto, and I was very fortunate to be accepted to a fellowship at stanford called the Distinguished Careers Institute and I spent one year on stanford's campus, really in the design school, Unlearning, relearning, rethinking, reimagining my career, my life like what I wanted my legacy to be what success actually meant and how you navigated from success to what I wanted to reimagine as a significant life as opposed to a successful life. And so that whole year There was just so much thinking, so much thinking, so much immersion in so many different experiences.
00:08:52Edit And one thing that's really great about being over 40 Is that I got to do this with 18 year olds, 19 year olds, 20 year old. So I got to just really immerse myself in this sort of new gen z way of thinking and I just, I really wanted to try something different. I wanted to rip up the script that had been given to me many years ago and that's how bossy started. I wanna ask a little interjection question before we go on here when you were going through this period and you were thinking about what means, you know, a significant life to you and like what does success look like? What are some of those things? Like, what were you thinking? So, I think when I graduated from undergrad, I was obviously not thinking about pursuing passion because I had, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans. So I was only thinking about finances and one of the blessings of my life then fast forward 20 years later is that I didn't have to, I didn't have student loans, I had a very different life from 20 years before. And so I wanted to not be focused entirely on money and I want to be careful how I say this because bossy cosmetics is not a nonprofit, you know, it exists for profit and I really do believe in capitalism, but I didn't want my sole purpose to be chasing money.
00:10:07Edit And so the process was really, how do you do something that you think you are so unique for? So you know how we talk about product market fit? I wanted it to be founder market fit. I wanted it to be something that when people who knew me when I talked about what I was doing, it was like, oh we can completely see, but we know we get it, we get it, we know it, we see it whether you agree with the business idea or not, it is so in line with who I am with my struggles with my challenges, with my successes, with my philosophy because what I wanted to do was to show up to work every day and be completely jazzed to be completely natural, be completely authentic and you do that when you have such a strong fit with the product or the service or the business. Absolutely. So that was really what it was, it was this process of unlearning relearning, who is Aisha, like where do I exist in a state of flow. Like when have I been working that I've been so like I don't even know when hours have gone by, what are those things I was doing?
00:11:15Edit So it's really kind of taking a cake and deconstructing it to the ingredients and how you make it and how you bake it and all those things to get that beautiful cake. That was my one year of how do I deconstruct myself, wow, that's so powerful to really, you know, look internally and do that deep searching to figure it out. And also having the courage to obviously go after it as well. That's a huge piece of the puzzle. Sometimes I say it's courage. Sometimes I say it's craziness, it's the CCS Yes. What was the Aha moment that you were like, it's going to be lipstick, it's going to be beauty, it's going to be cosmetics. What was the moment for you? So I was, I want to walk crazy. It doesn't make any sense. Honestly, I was on a walk, it really doesn't make any sense because I was, it's almost like I always say I have these two women who live in my body, one's name is Beyonce, the other one's name is Rachel and Beyonce is like my hype woman and Rachel's like the negative nelly, she's always telling me like you can't do this, That doesn't make any sense that it added it up.
00:12:23Edit So I'm on this walk and Beyonce Rachel and I are having this chat and I'm like, Beyonce is like forget money, what is it that you love? Right? Like if you had, if you say that you want to sit at the intersection of your purpose and your passion, let's talk about purpose. What do you think your purposes? And I felt like my purpose was to really dig into women like helping women believe that they are fire. Like helping women understand what the pay equity gap is and how do we close it and believing that you do deserve to be paid exactly what a man is being paid. Like I just wanted to spend time with women encouraging women but ambitious women and pushing them to even own that moniker. Like a lot of women find calling themselves ambitious to be negative. So that was what I was like this is my purpose is to really coach, inspire, help women to aspire to just the next thing for themselves and to collaborate with one another not to compete. So when I dug into it that was the stuff that I really enjoyed.
00:13:25Edit And then when I thought about my passion, the first thing if you can see in my is color right? Like I am super colorful. Like if you see me in all black like check if everything's okay. I love you. You're my kind of woman. I love color. Like if you go to my living room downstairs there are massive paintings. Every color in the rainbow color just makes me feel alive. It wakes me up. It's just and I love wearing color. It helps me kind of as I said, the war paint? Right? Mm hmm. Me too. And so when I thought intersection of purpose working with women passion, colorful. I was like, what's the most colorful thing you have? And it just hit me lipstick on my walk. Right? And that was when I was like, and honestly when I, when I came up with this Aha moment, it wasn't, I'm going to create a billion dollar brand that sells lipsticks. It wasn't, it was I'm going to do a project around getting women to ignite confidence in themselves through lipstick.
00:14:27Edit That's all I'm gonna do. It was just, I'm gonna have fun. I'm not even thinking about a business, not thinking about a brand. Not thinking about big, big, big. I'm just gonna go out there and do what I think is my purpose, which is to inspire women and get women to see the magic within themselves. And I'm going to do it through lipstick, Which is why my lipsticks have like the lipstick I'm wearing now is called focused. Um or like we have names called inspiring, ambitious driven. Like all of our products are literally odes to power women and the essential products that she needs in her life. Oh my gosh. I just feel it. I feel it in everything that you're saying. I'm so inspired. Holy moly so cool. That's the point. That's the job. I love it. I love it so much. I want to understand this early phase of you deciding to start this business. What is going on? Like how do you create a lipstick brand? What are the steps? Yeah. So I definitely stumbled into all of that. Like I said, I mean I didn't sit down and do like detailed market research and analysis and all this stuff to get to lipsticks.
00:15:29Edit I just realized, listen, I love lipsticks. I know a lot of women love lipsticks. The beauty industry is a $750 billion dollars growing industry. I don't think women are ever going to stop wearing makeup and in fact many men are wearing makeup now. And so I think the industry is growing and then I realized also just from my own user habits and talking to a lot of people holding focus groups that you know, lipstick is the category that women are most willing to try out new brands. They won't for for complexion for like they have that foundation, that's their thing. They have that blush. That's their thing. They have that mascara, that's their thing. But like lipstick, A woman will have like 10 different brands in her drawer and they're all red. But she's like as a whole bunch. So I was like, that's the place you need to start, where customer loyalty is super low because that's where I'm not an influencer. I'm not a celebrity. That's where the average woman is going to be willing to give you a chance. That is so cool. What a great little pearl of wisdom there. I love Yeah, yeah, it was a little bit of intuition, personal interest with that whole fit notion with where do you think strategically you can start to kind of chip away?
00:16:40Edit Right? Given what you don't have, which is I don't, I didn't have a massive budget. I didn't have influence or status or celebrity or access to any of those things, but social media is free, Right? So I was like, okay, let's just start small. And like I said, it wasn't a goal to build this amazing brand at the time, it was just what can you do? Like when you actually try this purpose meets passion, where do you get that is so cool. And so what, what is happening in the beginning? How do you develop a lipstick company? Like what are those early kind of tactical steps to bringing this brand up until the point of launch? So I think a couple of things which are obvious and a couple of things which were not obvious that I lived to regret, Love the not obvious, yes, yes, which I'm like please don't make the same mistake I did. So I think the first thing is just naming the company for me and as I said, this happened on a walk and I just kind of plugged into um I always love to kind of be a little cheeky because I feel like if you, if you kind of like poke people and makes them think.
00:17:46Edit And so I had always been called bossy when I was young because I was always chitter chattering and always had something to say and you know, just always wanted my voice to be heard. And I've always known that for young girls, you know when young women are vocal about things, you know, we're called aggressive, we're called annoying, were called, you know, we can be called emotional, were called bossy. But if it's a if it's a young man, oh, he's assertive, he's a go getter, he's a natural leader. And so I wanted to kind of again be cheeky and like reclaim that word and say, listen, this is a call to arms babes. Like if you have been called bossy, let's have a chat about you. Something was seen in you very early and I want you to reclaim and own that voice. And so I picked the name. Did no research. I was like, okay, calling the thing policy cosmetics. I have so many questions on this, by the way, I hope you're going there. Yes, that's where I'm going because I did not do any searches for other people who have the name. I did not do any trademark work. I did nothing, literally very naive on the wall, picked the name and then did an online competition.
00:18:54Edit I think it costs $99 to design the logo, our first logo was super super ugly. Super ugly. But I've always loved the color rose gold. So I knew it had to have rose gold in it. So that was the only guidance I gave and it kind of had like a lip in it because I knew it was gonna be lipstick. So I mean super ugly. Maybe it's an exaggeration. That's not fair. It wasn't very nice. Let's put it that way. You've evolved, evolved. Yes. So did this cheap sort of, you know, make a logo, name a company. And then I was like, okay, where are we going to get the lipsticks from the actual product? And so I joined a bunch of, I started talking to people about, do you know any of the industry groups that one needs to be a part of. So I joined cosmetic executive women's group. I joined a bunch of different trade groups and started going to trade shows. Um and then just started connecting with people and learned about a private label manufacturer here in California. So our first collection and one of the things that was very was very important to me was obviously that they were cruelty free. I wanted to have clean products.
00:19:57Edit Um and then I also wanted to be because I am a black woman and in America there is this general assumption that if you are a black woman, you only make products for other black women. And it's something that I've talked about a lot super frustrating I don't like it but you know unconscious bias exists but I wanted to create a range that was truly inclusive where you could find colors that you loved and every woman between you and I I wanted the brand to defy ethnicity to defy hue to defy undertones. I wanted it to be truly truly welcoming because the definition of an ambitious woman defies all of those things and so I needed to find a private label manufacturer that had that range and so I found one and honestly doing like this is it like I literally was like okay you make these products. These probably signed this contract. Let's go. I had my logo slapped the logo on it, set up a bunch of of social media accounts, twitter instagram all that stuff and I got to work and I just started that's the beautiful thing about social media and I was very insecure I have to say my life as an investment banker, I was never called to be a marketer right?
00:21:11Edit Like you don't do B you don't do B. Two C. Marketing, your dealing directly with super large corporations. So the marketing muscle is very different. So I took google analytics courses online. I took I took google marketing courses, I took facebook marketing courses on digital marketing courses online. I was teaching myself everything and so I was honestly I was just learning as I was going along. I really don't want this to seem like I had, I did not have a business plan or anything. I think my first order of of products once I found the company that I said made the clean products and had the you know I got to pick the range of colors that I liked. We started with liquid lipsticks, lip glosses and lip liners. Once I found the range that I liked, we had the logo. I set up a company called Bossy Cosmetics to own the trademark and all of them to own the brand and all of these things. Um and then I set up social media pages and just kind of started saying you know speaking to the message right?
00:22:11Edit Like the product but also the message and what I found was people are like this is cool, we love it, this is cool, we love it, we love the products, the products are great, they're high performing their beautiful like white women asian women indian women, black women, different women like it's starting to you know the market testing. I always tell people like don't spend too much time thinking because go out there, the market will teach you and the market was telling me this is really interesting, we like this, we like that. Have you made these types of products and and people started telling me ah your logo, you can't really see the logo on this and one person who ended up becoming my lead designer now sent me an email and said your logo is ugly. It is not befitting literally ugly, literally. She's a french woman who is now like my, one of my best friends sent me an email through cosmetic executive women. She's like, I've heard about your brand. Oh my God, I love what you're building. I think that's such a wide space in the beauty industry. Nobody thinks about how to bring ambitious women together through products.
00:23:15Edit Um I love what you're doing. She had worked for about 15 years at that time between show pod and givenchy along calm and she's like, but your design aesthetic is awful, you know, and it hurt because she was right, right? Like I read that email and I was like, who the hell does this woman think she is? And then I went back and looked at everything and I was like, like I have some of this stuff and I'm like, maybe she's right, not maybe I was like, she is right. So I emailed her and I was like, all right, let's talk. And she's like, I'm in paris I'm like, I'll fly out, let's let's meet, Oh my God, I love that. I have so many questions up until this point. So let's take a take a hot second to dig into a few things if you're on the lookout for ways to make your business sail smoothly from one quarter to the next look, no further hubspot helps your business get shipshape with an easy to use crm platform that aligns your business and delivers a seamless experience for your customers. Other serums can be cobbled together, but hubspot is carefully crafted in house for businesses like yours, Its purpose built suite of ops sales and marketing tools work together seamlessly.
00:24:23Edit So you and your team can focus on what really matters your customers plus with helpful educational content, a supportive community and access to hundreds of app integrations. Hubspot all in one platform is built to grow with you learn how to grow better by connecting your people, your customers and your business at hubspot dot com. Are you a founder that's been trying to relocate, meet with investors or participate in accelerator programs in the US. Traditionally the work visa application process has been time consuming, complicated and quite frankly, frustrating legal pad is changing that. Legal pads specializes in the sought after founder friendly. 01 Visa for individuals of extraordinary ability. Now this may sound intimidating, but it's just a fancy way to describe someone at the top of their field. Many founders qualify, entrepreneurs engineers, scientists, graphic designers and researchers can all qualify with the right accomplishments, curious how legal pad can help you get in touch for a free consultation and get a $500 credit for female startup club listeners when you tell them I sent you find more info in our show notes, Number one bossy as a word in beauty trademarking.
00:25:40Edit Was it difficult? So I'll make this without going because we can talk about this for 10 years. Um it was very difficult and we've only just now gotten trademark approval on a trademark name that is bossy by Aisha too. So when I, when I initially started I tried to trademark bossy by Aisha. That was my goal and we had gotten conditional approval and at the very last minute a woman owned company that uses the word bossy. Now if you google bossy and beauty, I mean there's like 1000 companies be bossy, bossy, be bossy girl bossy. This, I mean it's such a common word like I said, I didn't do any research. I just went ahead with it. It is so common in beauty. So another woman owned business sadly sent me a cease and desist letter that she was going to challenge bossy by Aisha and I added by Aisha because I thought it would it would make it distinctive. Anyway, so this is I'm not going to go into the whole legal drama.
00:26:45Edit But in the end she dropped her lawsuit against us. And so we proceeded, uh I sorry, I dropped bossy by Aisha as a result of her attacking us. Um but she dropped her lawsuit and so then I went back again to do bossy by Aisha too, which is my full name. But interestingly enough in the UK, I applied for bossy cosmetics I got it And then I I proceeded to apply for bossy cosmetics in the EU. At which point Hugo boss woke up and this is where I was like, let's talk about Hugo boss because Hugo boss is known to be a bloody hound with this word. They are awful, they're awful. I'm currently still in negotiations with them. Um The good, so here's the bad thing. The good thing is I had the fright of, I've never received a C synthesis letter and I think when you watch the movies you think it's like the end of the world when you get it. But in reality it's not, it's an email. I mean like it's no, it's a six page letter that's delivered to your house and a copy an email and you think you're going to jail and your company, like you think all these negative things like my house is gonna be taken, my Children be destitute and all these things.
00:27:59Edit So when I got it I was like weeping and crying, I was like, Oh my God, like and and by the way, I will never forget the date. It was April 8, 2020. So we are literally just in the beginning of the pandemic. I have put every red cent of my savings into a whole new collection that was designed by this french woman. I just told you like we took it up 1000 notches based on me now hiring her to redesign the logo. we got a design studio, like we took the business up several notches. I put every last dollar into this whole redesign, go to France and Italy meet new supply chain, everything is spent. Another pandemic happens. So my goods and I mean what are you gonna do? Start calling people in Northern Italy when they're dying? No start calling people in china when china shut down. No. So I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars new products and I get the C synthesis letter and I don't even know when those products are arriving because we're a pandemic. So I was beside myself, I can't begin to explain how devastating.
00:29:01Edit I actually wrote this woman several letters asking her please let's have a negotiation, let's have a conversation. If you and I speak woman to woman, we can definitely come to an understanding. She refused to speak to me. I mean her lawyer was literally awful. I mean he accused me of trying to destroy her business. He called me a fraud, just all sorts of things. It was really yeah, it was really awful. I even, and I remember it got to june during the whole George Floyd situation and I wrote her another letter saying, listen, I'm a black mother, I'm dealing with a lot of stress right now. I don't even have these products that you're telling me that I can't sell, you know I am this company may be bankrupt any moment. Like can you just give me a minute, let's have a conversation. Let's speak. She refused to speak to me and I think what that did for me and I want to send this message to any entrepreneur is sometimes you do have options because I think that her the meanness and the lack of empathy and the lack of soul and responding to me made me say eff this, I'm gonna fight you.
00:30:07Edit So I stopped deciding to change my name right? Because I immediately capitulated. I was like, ok, I can't, the world is coming to an end, I'll change the company's name, but please give me two years to sell the existing inventory that hasn't even arrived. And she was saying no. And so once we, once I saw how awful she was, I was like let's go to court. And she each day we were supposed to show up to court. She never showed up. So yeah. Anyway, so that's that's how that went. Oh my God, I didn't realize that it actually ends in going to court. Like I just kind of thought it was all figured out over the internet. No, it was supposed to go to a tribunal. I wrote, I wrote, I think she probably said, well it's public record. So I won't talk about it. But I wrote a letter to the tribunal about how are brands have no overlap whatsoever. And of course at this point now as luck would have it, we are getting so much press, We are getting so much press nobody's confusing our brands. I mean if you visit her brand and my brand, you will never mistake us.
00:31:09Edit Right? So her, her argument was laughable and I put the laugh ability in a document and I filed it with the court. She never showed the court gave her an additional 30 days. She didn't show. So here's another message to female entrepreneurs. Women are not always going to be your partner. But guess what? Fight if you believe in yourself, fight and what I did at the time, we didn't have the capital to hire a big lawyer. I did this myself with that five page document. I wrote it myself, I went and studied what are all the legal codes and everything. I did it myself. Of course, now December 24, the day before Christmas comes, I get a letter from a law firm representing Hugo boss. Now you're not going to fight those guys that this was a different, that's a different issue. And so at that point, what I why I brought up her case was I had already cried all the tears. I had already been so petrified of losing this business that had now felt like my fourth child that I had become so connected to, that consumers were loving and that I was telling women to be confident to go out and fight for themselves and it kind of felt like I was in a fight for the brand.
00:32:21Edit And so by the time I got Hugo boss's letter I was almost like all right, let's go. I didn't shed a single tear. And so we then went through a one year negotiation, right? And they I mean they are they are heavy as you know, they are, they are mean, they are aggressive. Um I have to say that their lawyer that I worked with is actually a really wonderful person. He's actually really nice. Unfortunately he's he's against me but you know, and he's gotta do his clients bidding. But I had all those negotiations by myself because again, I did not have the capital to hire a fancy UK, you know, law firm. Um I I hired french lawyers to change a lot of the filings in europe and I basically asked Hugo boss, what do you need to be able to sleep at night where I get to keep bossy because you don't make color cosmetics like I'm not hurting you. So what do we need? So we ended up agreeing on going back to bossy by Aisha too. And if I had that as distinctive, they felt that it wouldn't, you know, infringe upon their boss and they told me that they were very concerned around fragrances that was really their business and I said fine, I'll never make a fragrance that uses the word boss.
00:33:34Edit And so I ended up trademarking my name Aisha to in in europe in the U. K. And in the US. And then I ended up applying for the trademark of bossy by Aisha to um and so now I own bossy by Aisha to and Aisha to in in europe in the U. K. In the U. S. I O Nisha to and bossy by Aisha too. I should get it by the end of this year. It's now been um approved and we're using it on our new packaging and so it has been the most expensive, heart wrenching, anxiety riddled journey of my life. You know, just last week I got an email from the Hugo boss lawyer and I had such a bad day, like whenever I see his name in my mailbox it sends me into a tizzy, do I think it was worth it? I don't know. I think what I will tell founders is don't do something as stupid as I did, which is you know, just go for a walk and come with the name, incorporate the company and get going, you know?
00:34:34Edit But like I said, I didn't think I wasn't thinking that far. I was just like this will be fun, let's see how it goes. And then as it started to go I was like oh we're gonna build a billion dollar brand, let's go. And then I was like oh so let's trademark it really quickly and then I thought I realized oh it doesn't work that way. So we kind of patched our way into it and I'm just grateful now that we have the policy by Aisha to brand and I feel like, yes, it is distinctive. Um, we also have the Aisha to brand so we'll play around with how we use that. But I feel, I feel super powerful that I, I fought these two people. Yeah, that's crazy. That is so impressive. Like so impressive. I don't know. And you, when you saw me crying, you wouldn't have been impressed. There were a lot of tears. Lots and lots and lots, lots of tears, but you just must know so much about like this side of business now. Like this must also just be a huge learning growth point for you too as a person.
00:35:39Edit Yeah. Yeah. It almost feels like one of the things that it's done is like really increased my faith because again, I felt like I was in the David and Goliath battle. Like I mean Hugo boss goal. I read the other day is to get to revenues of £4.5 billion. I mean I'm the rounding error Hugo boss. Okay, I'm literally, I don't know how I could even be on their screen and for them to have this kind of, you know, focus on destroying me. And so it almost felt deceitful for me not to have the fight and I was prepared to lose the fight as well. But I mean prepared, you don't have a choice if you lose it. But I thought if this is what you really were talking about when you talked about the intersection of purpose and passion and you talked about igniting confidence in women and so you will ignite this confidence in yourself and you will fucking fight and if you lose, you will tell the story of your loss.
00:36:41Edit Like as far as you have, your body, your soul, your mental health and you have your family, you have your Children, you've got all the people who love you, you haven't lost. Like you you fought valiantly and you move on to the next thing. And I also think that these stories really like it becomes part of your journey and it becomes part of your like story that you put out into the world. You know, like I've also heard of the founders of midday squares, they had an acquisition offer from her, she's that they denied and then 30 days later or maybe a bit longer a few months later her, she comes knocking on the door with a cease and desist and it's like you have to change your whole brand and like they just turned it into such a positive because they were like, we're actually not going to fight it. We're gonna absolutely use this as part of our story, part of our journey, document everything all online and of course that makes people fall in love with them and away from the big guy and it is a point of like Difference to your story like 100%. That is crazy, crazy stuff.
00:37:44Edit Oh my God! Um wow, thank you for sharing. I want to go back to kind of that earlier piece of like you've launched things are kind of taking off, you're getting a lot of great reception from everyone. I love to understand kind of a the money piece, like how much you kind of invested to get the brand off the ground and like how you were thinking about financing the brand moving forward, knowing that building a CPG brand requires so much working capital. Oh God, yes, so like I said, I started with just, I think my first order, It was like $2500. Okay, that's what I ordered like to start the company. So super, super, super small. Now we're in the hundreds of thousands, right? But we started with just alright, let's buy 50 of this color, 25 of that color, like super super small. So that was manageable. And then of course I told you I meet my lead designer Stephanie and we go to paris and then she takes me to like lots of, we go and we visit all of the major primary packaging manufacturers in europe and I'm now the dream is my ghost.
00:38:53Edit I mean literally the dream balloon and I was like wait, we can do this Stephanie, like we can do this, I can do this! Like this is again Igniting confidence! Like I started to say, why can Loreal do it? And I couldn't why couldn't leave it on, do it and I couldn't, why could Estee lauder do it? And I couldn't like sh it, I can do this, I had no money to do it, but still was. And so I think it was just Stephanie believing in me and then meeting some of these amazing producers who produce for Givenchy for Guccifer Pet McGrath for charlotte. Like the majors meeting with me and saying, okay, yeah, like we can work with you, you're an indie brand, you know, we don't produce such small quantities, you know, but we can work with you. I was like okay, it was almost like you know what Aisha, like let it rip, let's go for it! And so like I said, I was ordering 50 sticks at this time and these guys are telling me minimum order quantity is 10,000, right? So I'm just thinking how, but this is again my point around faith, I was like, go big or go home!
00:40:00Edit And this is why I said I put every red cent that I had into the company and then I also, what was really fortunate for me and I am almost getting emotional saying this is that I had friends start to call me up and say, I love what you're doing anything you want to do, I want to support you, what can I do? And so I had people saying, let me give you 5000, let me give you 10,000, let me give you 25,000. And those thousands they bloody add up. And then a gentleman I respect greatly. He was a colleague of mine at stanford. He sits on the board of many companies. He was the ceo of john bijou. So he knows retail. He calls me up and he says, I believe you can build a billion dollar brand. I want to support you. Not only am I going to give you some capital, but I'll open doors for you. How can I help? I mean, dune, you start getting those calls and you start feeling that the universe is working for you. So I I mean that's obviously all before the pandemic crippled things. But so I put my money in and took some money from some friends and family and I was like, let's go.
00:41:09Edit And that's what ended up becoming. I'll show you the first new collection was we did this um, eyeshadow palette, which was our first foray into powders and it's one of our bestsellers. We did this. Um we did our liquid lipsticks. Like I said, we were ordering 2050 pieces. We did 10,000 of these. This was unbelievable. And then we we did this process. So these were the three first sort of level of products we did. This was one of the four that was selected on Oprah's favorite things, right? I mean, Oh my God, So, it's crazy. Congratulations by the way, thank you. Thank you. Right? So, it's almost this isn't this is a story of craziness, grit, resilience, madness, volatility, luck fucking balls. I mean, and and and back to crazy again, it none of it made sense. But I just was like, let's go. That is a wild journey When you were like, changing from ordering 50 of these, 50 of that to 10,000 of this, 10,000 of that.
00:42:18Edit Can you tell me how your marketing and selling that many units and going from selling 50 to 10,000 of rescue, what's the marketing journey? So what's interesting? So, I think I realized, okay, when you're leveling up your leveling up in everything, you don't just level up in one bit, right? So you hire the firm who does the new logo, you have these new beautiful packaging. I mean in the beginning, I was using my iphone 4 10 or whatever it was to take pictures in my garden and post on instagram. I was like, okay, honey, like, you need to get like a proper product photographer now, you need to like, get proper like, you need some real stuff. This little chicken little thing you're doing is not going to work. So you begin to level up. And so that's what I started to, I started to kind of look for studios that can do proper product photography. So you, you know of course you look at what other brands are doing, you see their instagram, you see their websites, it's like, oh my God guys, like Aisha, you really need to take this up several notches because you you are where you are, you now have this vision of where you want to be And you start looking at the various arcs to get there and you're like Okay, what I'm doing now is not going to get me to sell 10,000 sticks.
00:43:32Edit So you start saying, Okay, like how do I level up, how do I level up and that first of all was imagery, like how do we appear differently? How do we showcase our product differently? But for the most part I want to say a lot didn't change. I have always been the chief marketing officer of this company. Every post you see on twitter, on instagram, on facebook, on Tiktok is me, right? So I a lot, I mean like I said, I don't design the products, although I work very closely, I mean nothing is designed in this company without me. Like looking at it 5000 times and making all of my changes. So my my fingerprint is all over the D. N. A. Of this brand, but the marketing has always been me, I just worked with really amazing people. I work with great photographers great stylists, like we did a photo shoot a month or two ago with this really amazing Nigerian stylist and it was just sucking otherworldly, like an amazing photographer. Just I work with really amazing people to create really amazing visuals and so that's kind of what we're doing is just, you know, leveling up as one of the things that I've always said is I don't want to just be, there were obviously no longer just a lipstick company, right?
00:44:45Edit We have eyeliners now, eyeshadows, we're going into blush and highlighters. So we're doing full facial cosmetics as we go along. But I never want to just be about product. I want to talk about content, I want to create content that's super exciting for our audience. I want to create services. So one of the products we launched in 2020 which were refreshing, is called beauty meets wisdom, Where if you spend $50 on the site, we give you a free hour of executive coaching from a professional coach. And so really what we wanted to do is show our customers we are partnering with you when we said we want you to look good, feel good and do good. We mean it. And so that's kind we started to lean into things that other brands are not doing. We, I have a monthly bossy chats where I do and I g live with an amazing woman in business and we talk about the success. We talk about the failures, the challenges kind of like what you're doing you and I are doing right now, you know we do it on Ig live and create sort of evergreen content, so that's what we're doing, I'm just, I'm trying to walk to the beat of our own drum, listen to our customers find out what they, what they want, what they need.
00:45:52Edit Sometimes you don't always ask someone what you need to kind of figure out from when they tell you what their problems are and you figure out what are the ones that you can use your market position to support. I mean I am just like blown away from you and your energy and everything that you're saying, this is so cool and I love it and I see it and I feel it, it's amazing. What is your key piece of advice for entrepreneurs who are going into the beauty industry in 2022. Oh God. Um apart from all the mistakes I made, please don't repeat them. I just think stay consistent, stay focused and many times put your blinders on, really know your why I think, you know if you follow so many other people on social media, you read all the press highlights, a lot of things can get depressing, like this person raised $3 million. This person raised $20 million this person got into Sephora like all the dreams you have for yourself, other people are living them, it can tend to be, you know, it can tend to really get to you and so I just, there's so many times in the journey of bossy, like we're turning three years old and a week um and so we are still a young brand, but there's been some several times in the journey of this business where I've said, I can't do this, I'm shutting down, I just can't do this right, especially during, during the trademark battles and I'm so grateful that I didn't let those times break me and so my advice would be to you who's starting in the beauty industry is you will meet a lot of resistance, you will, you will get a lot of negative feedback, you will get negative reviews, you will get so many knows, you know, you may get a lawsuit like so many different things will come your way.
00:47:44Edit It is actually part of the journey. It's not the message that tells you to quit, it's the message that tests to see whether you are made for this and so don't interpret bad things happening as this isn't meant to be. I'm going to pack it up. Like people always say, businesses don't fail because they run out of money, they fail because the founder gives up, wow 100% great advice thanks for listening to this amazing episode, we are testing out something new here for the next while and we're splitting up each episode into two parts, the main interview part and then the six quick questions part to make them easier to listen to. So that's part one done, tune into part 2 to hear the six quick questions.
So question # one is what's your why? Why are you doing what you're doing? I just love seeing successful women. I love seeing self actualized women, I love seeing wealthy women, I love seeing happy women, I love seeing fulfilled women, You know, I want that for me, I want that for you, I want that for everyone.
00:01:12Edit And that's my why. It's just like I just want us all to be amazing, to get what we want to do what we want to do, good to have rights, you know, to raise amazing Children. If you don't want to raise Children, that's fine. Like to do what sets your soul a light, That's what I want to see women doing, That is so cool, I'm just so inspired by You can't tell you enough, I can't tell you enough times, but oh my gosh, question number two, what has been your favorite marketing moment so far? Or like the number one marketing moment so far? Oh gosh, like Oprah's favorite things. Are you kidding me? I'm like, I mean you can't top that ultimate, that's the ultimate. How did that happen by the way? It's one of those things where like you cry. I mean, another thing like you cry, I've I've never cried this much in three years. Like you cry because you're miserable. You cry because you're happy you're crying because you're confused. Like that was a serious weeping moment, right?
00:02:15Edit How did it happen? So, I think someone from her team heard about us through one of the small indie retailers that we work with. And I guess she like looked up the site, loved the products, kind of loved the stuff and reached out and I I thought it was like some person asking for free products, you know, I was like, whatever. And that, I mean it just, you know, and at first I was like, first I didn't believe it. And then eventually after talking to her saying she's interested in learning more. She works with Oprah Daily. Eventually I realized she was telling the truth and then you're like, oh wait a second. I know. So at first I was like, she sends me an email, Do you have time to talk? I was like, not enough time, maybe in three months we can speak. Cause I thought it was like, I thought it was somebody looking for free product, Did you say maybe in three months we can speak? Yeah, I said we can either speak today or in three months because my summer is going to be really busy and she's like, okay, let's speak today. And she calls and we start speaking and I'm like, whoa, this is like the real deal.
00:03:19Edit And so I sent her a bunch of products and the address she gives me is hearst magazines offices. And so then I'm like, this is possible. This is possible. So anyway, we go through this whole process of like I did a whole deck, which I don't think Oprah saw the deck. I sent it. I was like, you don't understand. I love Oprah. Like she is my mentor and she doesn't even know me. She is the queen. She's the queen. I mean we don't even talk about that. I don't know how long it took because apparently like she has people on her team like suggest, but she makes the final choices and so that she was like, listen, we'll let you know what radio says. She calls a lady. Oh my God, I was some days I call her lady. Oh, some days I call her auntie o like over as a member of my family in my head. And I just, it was, I mean, I cannot even imagine that's crazy. And then you've got to keep it confidential for a long period of time. And so you're almost like nervous. Like, are they going to change their minds, are they gonna change their mind?
00:04:22Edit Is this really true? Is this going to happen? And then the day it happens, uh That is crazy. What is the impact of being one of Oprah's favorite things? Are you able to share? Like what happens after something like that? Yeah, I mean without, I mean we sold out of everything and then tried to restock and we sold out of that and then we were able to restock some things, some things are still sold out because of supply chain issues. So from a sales standpoint, unbelievable. And not just the thing that's Oprah's favorite things, but then what that does is it opens you up to millions of new customers who Learn about your products and you know, decide to buy something else or try something else and people give gifts. And of course it's around the holiday shopping period. So, you know, I was seeing people buy 10 boxes and you know, so they're obviously giving boxes to two friends and it's just so that's 10 new customers you get at once, right?
00:05:26Edit And then of course the press coverage, you're in like, we had a solo piece and in Style magazine, what um just like style caster, what Glamour magazine. What I mean, what? None of it was just insane. It got to the point where my pr team would be like, oh pleased to tell you that you were featured in this. And and it got to the point where it's like, I'm too busy packing orders. I don't have time to be. I mean, these are the things that you live for, but now I'm like, okay, we've got to not fail. Like and I mean, so I spent the two months because I was so nervous about getting it wrong. Every single box I packed myself, I hired a young lady. We ordered the boxes very quickly paid extra to get them rushed. Had a bunch of boxes. My house was a disaster. Okay. And this lady and I, we would put on our masks and gloves and we would watch squid game or netflix all day. And we were downstairs just folding boxes, taking lipsticks, placing four in a piece, closing it, putting in a bag loop.
00:06:35Edit Like this was an assembly line. I think it took us all day every day for about three weeks. My fingers, I don't know how they're not like this. It was yeah. I love how you've gone through some real I mean, I don't love this view, but I love you've gone through this journey that's like some super low lows. But those lows have gotten you to here where you've then had these crazy highs and you're like, oh, I went all through all of that. But I kept with it and now this is the good bit like I'm here. That is so cool. My God. Oh yeah, yeah. I digress question number three, What's your go to business resource when it comes to podcast newsletter or book. So definitely podcasts. I read a lot of newsletters as well, but God, I haven't read a full business book and I don't know how long, I just don't have the attention span or capacity any longer, sadly podcasts. I love business wars. Um, I also really love how I built this and it's crazy that I was, I was on how I built this.
00:07:44Edit There was, can you imagine that was another life? I can't believe I haven't already brought this up. You've chatted to Guy raz who's like everyone's hero. He is uncle guy to my kids. Like my kids when we're going on like we're driving long trips. We listen to how I built this, they know him. And so my kids cannot believe their mother even spoke. I can't believe that I made it through a conversation with Kyra. It's crazy. I can't believe I'm talking to someone that spoke to Guy raz like what the heck, It doesn't work. It doesn't work that way. So, so yeah, I really, I really do like, like how I built this and business wars. Those are two that I listened to a lot. I don't listen to business wars and ages. That's a good one. I'm gonna check that out Again. It's a really good one Question. Number four is how do you win the day? What's your AM or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated. Okay, well coffee first of all, like if I don't start my day with coffee, it's not started. It doesn't start. So first thing I wake up, I say good morning to my boys.
00:08:49Edit I kind of bumble down the stairs and then I have coffee and then I'm like, ok, how's everybody just you sleep? Right, I wake up, get my kids off to school and then I just, you know, I said, I put a tweet out a couple of months ago or so where I said this year, I'm all about build and ship ship and build. I just, I put my head down and I work, I work, I work like if you see my desk, it's filled with papers and make up and eye shadows and stuff. Like I'm just do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do. And then I will go pick up my kids from school and hang out with them for a little bit and then I come back and do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do um I just, I get it done. I'm really, you know, I'm getting it done. I just, that's my thing is I know what I'm, you know, I've got my little notepad that tells me what's outstanding. I've posted all over my office. You know, I have a whole bunch of here. You know, one of them says don't quit before the miracle happens. Another one says you are the trophy. And then the other one's just say, don't forget to do this, make sure you contact this, do this, do this.
00:09:53Edit This one says Q V C J C. Penney Aussie chat. So I have reminders and I just as I execute, I throw the post it in the trash as I execute. And then I've got a whole bunch of spreadsheets, right? Because this is a business. So I'm tracking okay what we've made this payment. Whereas this boat that's supposed to be bringing this product in and you know, there's a lot of logistics involved. So I'm, you know, not all of it. I very rarely look like this only because I knew this was gonna be video. Do I look like this? Otherwise my hair is not home. There is no makeup on my face. I am wearing my bathrobe with big fluffy socks and I'm just do do do do do do do, I'm working. I'm so on it. Thank you so much for putting on the makeup and the headphones, which ruined your look and your beautiful headband. Yes, I actually don't think they ruined the look, I think you rocket. No, they did. I'm all about it now listen, this is the plan. So when we finished the actual substantive part of this discussion, I'm going to take this off and put on my thing and then smile for a couple of seconds and maybe like, and do like a screenshot, we're not doing a screenshot with this.
00:11:03Edit Anyway, that's the main part. Let's do that. I mean, I appreciate it. Don't worry, question number five is what's the worst money mistake you've ever made in the business And how much did it cost a lot of money mistakes I've made. I think the worst though was actually in the beginning, I think I mentioned that I was super insecure about marketing and I still am, but much less so, but I had no idea because I was not from the beauty industry, I was not from the DDC industry, I was not from the, you know, BDC industry. I felt so insecure that I really felt I needed to hire a chief marketing officer too, do the things. And so before I think we, we hadn't even launched yet, I hired someone to work under, basically she was going to be my CMO and she had worked at Loreal for many years and it was just the biggest waste of money, biggest, biggest, biggest regret of mine. I mean we move on from it.
00:12:04Edit She's a phenomenal, amazing, brilliant, talented woman, why I say it was the biggest waste of money and the biggest mistake is that first of all I never should have been insecure. I felt like, you know, there's so many nuggets that you need to know as a Legacy beauty person to bring to this brand. But that was the wrong way of thinking. What I needed to do was to stick into my why is to understand my customer and connect those two. It has nothing to do with a legacy brand and feeling like you need to lean on legacy is the actual problem. And so it's not about her but it was about my insecurity and my putting money behind my insecurity and someone who doesn't think the way I think and doesn't see the problem in the way I see it and doesn't see the solution in the way I see it. So I want to be clear that it had she's an amazing woman. But but the whole ethos behind bringing her on board and what I hoped for her to achieve didn't work out because it was it was not the way you run your company.
00:13:09Edit Gosh tough one tough lesson to learn, another tough lesson to learn. Last question question # six and you've shared so many of these already. But what is just a crazy story that you can share. Good bad or ugly from the business. Many which I think I've shared. You shared so many. I'll share another one which I didn't share which led to lots of tears. So we are on Q. V. C. It's like live shopping right? Live shopping. Yeah so it's They have their own TV stations Internet and they sell everything literally under the Sun. I think they sell 364 days a year live. And we were part of this competition called the Big Find. We were selected and we had this opportunity to customize a collection for Q. V. C. And go live on air. I was so scared but I just needed to get it done. And so just designing the new collection, Getting the supply chain ready was the most stressful thing that I've done from a production standpoint since running this company. And we were down to the wire and we had just hired a new logistics company to help us sort through everything once the goods all come from italy package them up the way Q.
00:14:20Edit V. C. Wants them and then send them to Q. V. C. Because Q. V. C. Has a very very strict process. So I asked the owner of the logistics company heavy work to Q. V. C. Before he says yes, I'm like great because I don't know anything about this. So I send them the Q. V. C. Book. Unfortunately they did not staff the person who has worked with Q. V. C. Before on my account. So literally the blind is leading the blind. I think they know what they're doing, they think I know what I'm doing. So I fulfill my obligations get my products to them, you know, tell them how to tell them what to put together. They send everything to Q. V. C. I have posted on instagram and our website told the investors told everybody we're going on Q. V. C. On Tuesday friday afternoon. I get an email now by the way this is again another time where I have put every penny of the business into this thing. So we are riding on this. I get an email on friday saying from Q. V. C. You're goods have failed inspection, you will not go on air on Tuesday and there's a whole list of things that we did wrong. Like what everything basically the master carton didn't have the right bar code that this wasn't that.
00:15:30Edit I mean it's all stuff that would be of no interest to either you or I, but a logistics company should know what they're doing. So all of the requirements that Q. V. C. Had so that when something goes into their distribution center they can track it properly. These guys just, I don't know what they did but they didn't do it right. So that was the biggest disaster because I then I had just emailed the investors that morning saying, hey guys super excited, put all the money in the company in this thing, fingers crossed I'm gonna do the best I can, we're gonna sell out on Tuesday blah blah blah like this and this and this and then I cried all day friday and saturday morning and then sent them an email saying I have to own this l as the ceo we blew it. We're not going to go on Tuesday. I don't know when or if we will go we are now long. I don't know 40,000 more lipsticks than we need and I don't know what we're gonna do with them. But it was not funny then but I can laugh now.
00:16:32Edit But wait what happens if I know my God tell us the ending. I know in the end luckily Q. V. C. Was really good. I got a really nice gentleman in Q. B. C. He was like oh I will introduce you to somebody who can come in and repack. I mean you have to pay for it but they'll come and repack everything. So I ended up not going on air for another month but we ended up doing it. So it all worked out. But at that moment when I got the failed inspection I thought come get your ship, you failed And I literally was wailing the whole weekend. Oh my God. I mean I can imagine God my emotions have been so afraid by this business and it's only been three years. Your nervous system is like I am frazzled but I love it. I know basically I'm frazzled but I'll still wear lipstick. I'll still look show up looking cute. Exactly weather beaten and worn and all. Oh my God Aisha I have loved loved talking to you. You are just such a ray of sunshine and I can just so see everything that you're building.
00:17:35Edit I can feel it in the way that you talk about your brand and what you're doing and your spirit is just like none other. My goodness, thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me. I've really enjoyed this conversation dude, thank you so much. And I wish your audience, I hope they really enjoyed this. I hope they're inspired and I hope they go on to be a billionaire women themselves. Yes, we need the billionaire energy. I'm all about it. That's it. We needed the big b energy. We're gonna be watching you. We're gonna be learning from you. That's fine. That's fine. Oh my gosh, I can't wait. We can't go. We can't wait. Put the headband on so we're gonna go into, I won't be able to hear you. I can't hear you. It looks amazing. I can't hear you. The sound has disconnected because we've changed the microphone. I don't know if you can hear me? You look amazing. Oh my gosh, I love it.