Silky Talk with Megan Cox
Megan Cox is ultra smart and the bad ass girlboss behind Amalie Beauty. She created her first beauty product Wink while she was in college looking for a way to grow her lashes destroyed by extensions. She now lives in China where she creates her products and sources suppliers for other beauty companies. Checkout this wonderful interview we had with her and visit Amalie Beauty blog for great beauty reviews!
1. What were you doing before you started Amalie Beauty? I was actually still in college when I started Amalie. When my lashes were basically destroyed by lash extensions, I couldn't find anything that would help restore them to their original length and fullness. Sure, there were products on the market designed for that purpose, but nothing worked for me.
2. What was the inspiration behind creating Amalie Beauty? Before Wink was Wink, I had created a mixture of oils that brought my lashes back to their original beauty--and more. I decided to try it on my brows, too--which I had been over-plucking and poorly shaping since I was 13--and had amazing results again. That was all in the Fall of 2012.
The next January, my boyfriend (at the time) and I traveled to Panama and Costa Rica for a month, during the break. We were both juniors in college, applying for our "golden internships" left and right, and trying to figure out wtf we were doing with our lives. We'd talk endlessly day after day, as we hiked, rode on horseback, explored. It was our chance to find ourselves and find our purposes. For myself, I could never quite find the right answer.
He suggested that I name and sell my lash-growing mixture. If it worked for me--and he could attest to that personally--why wouldn't it work for others? After a lot of convincing, I agreed to give it a shot. When we returned to school that spring, I assembled 12 girls (and guys!) from my cheer squad to do testing. They were given unmarked amber jars of liquid and told to apply it to their lashes once a day. Every Friday they came to my dorm and Miguel (my eventual co-founder), took photos of their lashes, while my friend Nikki counted them one-by-one and measured the length. We kept the data in a spreadsheet and compared results at the end of the test.
That summer, I still took an internship; I just wasn't confident enough in myself to fully go for it. Every day at work, as arguments arose between teams and office drama waxed and waned, I was secretly researching packaging and website options, and calling vendors on the low. On nights and weekends, Miguel and I Skyped and went over packaging designs, logos, and other brand elements.
One day, when I'd really had it with the office drama, I quit. I had finally realized my worth. I had no plan, no money. I just bought a plane ticket home and decided that with the remainder of my last summer of college, I was going to make it happen.
I spent the rest of my summer negotiating with suppliers and talking to press. When you're down to your last few dollars--and by the time my batch of WINK was ready, I had 6 dollars in my bank account--you really have no shame. That proved to work out for me pretty nicely.
By the time I returned to school in the fall, I was sold out of WINK with hundreds of back-orders and over $15,000 in the bank. My phone was ringing off the hook all fall; I couldn't make it through a lecture without leaving at least once to take a call.
3. We know you moved to China when creating your products. What made you decide to take that leap? Right. I was two years post-incorporation before I took the leap and moved to China.
Continuing on the story, I still had a degree to finish, and my first 6 months of sales were all-too-easy. There's something tricky about a fresh launch. You have no expectations, no experience, and you just roll with whatever happens. Everything feels like a miracle.
Keeping a business alive is a different story entirely.
I will be the first to admit that I had no idea what I was doing running an e-commerce business. I was happy that I had product and orders were getting shipped. I was happy that packaging arrived from China. "Isn't that amazing?" I thought, "I didn't get scammed."
But the bar was moving higher and higher.
When I attended a beauty show in early 2014 in LA, many salon owners and beauty professionals told me that my packaging (which was almost exactly what it is now) wasn't "up to par". They said "I wouldn't carry it if it looks like that, but change to something like a dip-brush and I'll buy it." That's exactly what everyone else was doing in the industry.
So I did it, too.
But that was a huge mistake. The brushes on the dip-brush containers were falling out into the containers, because my foil-based formulation was dissolving the glue. That left me with 10,000 unusable units and a lot of angry customers.
My formula was unique. Why did I try to pretend I was just like everyone else?
It was a devastating blow to my business.
I lost customers in droves.
The next packaging afterwards--a step back towards the original, but not quite the same--was almost equally defective.
So I moved to China and told them that I would take care of the problem; I would go to factories, test samples in person, and figure out the problems here in China. I would blog about it along the way, and send samples to 10 customers to test in their homes--complete with a survey--then show the data on the blog again, before moving forward.
That was my show of dedication to my customers, and it worked.
Now I have packaging that I love and works reliably. I have happy customers (for life, mind you) and a reliable factory that I love here in China.
If you're wondering why I stayed, there's something magical about the quiet and modest undertaking of huge projects in China. People dream big in China, and things--buildings, houses, products, companies--grow up overnight. It's inspiring.
In China, you can do anything. Living here has inspired to do more, be more, think more, build more, dream more.
4. What are some of the benefits of using Wink? WINK is really a restorative product, meant to bring your original beauty to the forefront. It's a magic eraser for our mistakes and regrets with our lashes and brows. Whether you over plucked, tug and pull, leave on your makeup at night, have had a bad bout with lash extensions or falsies, WINK is here to help.
Our lash and brow growth is also highly dependent on our hormones, so pregnancy, age, menopause, stress--a lot of factors can signal your lashes and brows to slow down.
WINK is a mix of essential fatty acids, which signal your body to produce the hormones (prostaglandins) that make lashes and brows grow. It's a natural way to push your lashes and brows to grow, without the nasty side effects of prescription products, which contain prostaglandins.
5. What is your favorite product from the Amalie Beauty line? Right now we just have WINK and SHINE, and WINK will always be my baby!
Last fall I launched a limited edition homegrown, handmade line of products called "Farm to Face," and we do have a new Farm to Face product (harvested this fall) coming out early this summer, and we'll see one of last year's Farm to Face products make a comeback this fall.
I loved the process of growing, extracting and formulating my own products with Farm to Face, but it's crazy time-consuming. Formulating is enough for me!
6. Give us one of your best skin care tips? Most people don't take care of their skin enough. Your skin's health gives away so much information about you, including how well you take care of yourself.
My biggest tip is to create a routine that you believe in and stick to it daily. The most important part of skincare is that the effects compound overtime, so be diligent with it.
I talk about skincare every week on the blog, so feel free to look around and see what could work, or email me your questions anytime!
7. What has been the toughest part of building your business? One of my friends in the industry said, "Showing up every day is half the battle." It's really true. Sometimes things don't go your way, sometimes you just don't feel like it. Blessings come in spurts: I can mark on my calendar high points of the business in the past 4 years, and everything else between can feel like trudging.
E-commerce can be insanely draining; it's like screaming into the void. I am my business's biggest asset, so I do my best to take care of myself.
8. What advice would you give to someone who wants to create a beauty product? Start with something that you love or solves a problem that you already have. Don't create something you don't also obsess about.
9. Anything new coming out soon? Yes, yes! I have a persimmon-based anti-aging cream coming out in June; that's part of the Farm to Face collection, but a little more fancy than the original products. It's an homage to my hometown, made from a local fruit that's the pride of our area.
Then in the fall, REWIND from the original Farm to Face collection makes a comeback. Last year it sold out in about 24 hours.
This year I'm also testing formulations for our lash and brow makeup line, which will drop next summer.
10. Enough beauty talk let's have some fun:
Favorite Color? Rose Quarts
Favorite Food? Bacon, of course!
Most prized possession? Right now it's a tiny stuffed animal purse I won in a claw machine. It's a Shiba Inu named "豆" which is slang for stupid, and he goes with me everywhere. He's a little bit bigger than my phone, and can fit a phone, some cash, and keys inside (it zips at the top) and has a clear card holder on the back. He has received compliments all over the world! Seriously.