As the timeworn saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” When Andrea-Rachel started making her own beauty products, she didn’t think the hobby would become a growing business. But that’s exactly what Foubeaubelle .com is.
“To make a long story short, FouBeauBelle was made for myself. I didn’t start it to sell it. I began it because I was always interested in making things with my hands; I was always into science and the chemistry of things,” explains Andrea-Rachel. “I have a vegan-reentry-turned-vegetarian grandmother whose lifestyle was always an interest of mine and so making items for myself wasn’t far behind. In this particular situation, I was looking for some things on the market like lash & brow growth serum but nothing was 100 percent organic, cruelty-free and vegan.” There didn’t seem to be anything on the market that fit Andrea-Rachel’s needs. “I didn’t trust putting Rapid Brow and Latisse on my skin because common sense told me that these ingredients were too strong for my face. Upon looking up the ingredients and reviews, I opted out,” she says. “Then I decided to make my own formula. I had already made things for my skin, my hair and nails; when I decided to make the brow & lash serum, I sought to add the fun appeal. Then I began researching proper bottles for oils.”
Still, Andrea-Rachel didn’t think of it as a business. “I gave things away for free to close friends to try out. Then I started getting questions about my hair and nails and decided to expand past the brow and lash serum,” she says.
Getting the venture off the ground took some creative funding. “OK, so…I am a working actress who really doesn’t have a lot of funds with which to splurge. Let me start by saying, I didn’t raise tons of money to start this venture at all. I, wholeheartedly, believe in investing and so even though I didn’t have money to ‘play’ with, I decided this was a passion. It was important and could return some money to me. Therefore, I felt it was okay to invest in it,” explains Andrea-Rachel.
So, she set about collecting funds from family and film acting projects. “I got some scraps together; I went to family, mainly my mother (thanks mom for helping out) and then I was in the film 72 Hours: A Brooklyn Love Story directed by Raafi Rivero and produced by Reel Works Teen Filmmaking company. I used the money I made from that film and a few other older projects that I saved funds from to jumpstart the business,” she says. “Honestly, it was my reading a book called ‘The $100 Start-up,’ that gave me the courage to fund such a project with little start-up capital. It’s also the main reason why we began as an online company. I built the website first, generated interest by showing my website so that funders would know everything there was to know. Then once I was able to allocate the money for the bottles, packages, oils, and other ingredients, I launched. It’s also important to note, that even though I had the idea for a long while, I didn’t sell immediately. I did research, I read, spoke to people, and did lots of things through trial and error before asking anyone to purchase a thing.”
And like every start up, there were challenges. Among them, getting people to see her new venture as a real business. “The biggest challenge was getting family and friends to see this as more than a temporary project and to recognize it was a serious business. Many were nonchalant about it and didn’t like that I had to choose work over socializing. It takes a longer time for friends and family to see you differently from how they perceive you,” says Andrea-Rachel. “They know me as an activist for health and animals; they know me as a working actress/pro-dancer; and they know me as a caregiver. But seeing me as businesswoman is new. It was never anything negative, just commentary and murmurs that indicate the denial or disbelief. They have since come around, even ordering products from my company.”
As she has grown her business Andrea-Rachel has surpassed other obstacles. “Oh, wow, there have been so many challenges in the past few months. I wanted to change packaging because I realized that I was paying too much for many of my containers, and I was paying for the tops separately. I wasn’t getting my containers on time from the wholesale factory and so I had to find a new one, and that was the longest process ever,” she says. “I learned to never ever listen to friends and family. It is better to seek out a business professional who has been in the same place or seek out your mentors for help and referrals. We had to buy locally for some time through this transition and it killed me to do that. I envisioned a particular look and, locally, I couldn’t find it. Additionally, it was expensive. But I found something that I am happy with, although I also ran into an issue with shipping.”
Through it all, Andrea-Rachel has persevered. Her FouBeauBelle fills a unique niche. “Often, when people think of or hear the phrases ‘vegan,’ ‘organic,’ or cruelty-free’ they think of someone who takes life too seriously, someone who may not have as much fun as everyone else, someone who is possibly outdoorsy, or khaki-wearing. Though that may be true for some, we want to expand what vegan meant in the realm of beauty. We wanted to provide the sexy, the glamour, the fresh feeling, the fun, the trendy in vegan, cruelty-free, organic products,” she says. “We wanted the line to represent natural glamour for someone who wears makeup because she wants to, not because she feels she has to. Aside from the fact that we are organic, vegan, cruelty-free we also offer custom products. This is usually done at a higher price point since specific materials have to be ordered and more time has to be spent working out a formula.”
It is also these custom orders that makes the company stand out. “These orders are usually for skin moisturizing oils for after a shower, and hair shampoos that promote growth. Sometimes they ask for a facial mask other than the CinnaBeau because they don’t like the scent of Cinnamon, or they are scared to try it,” says Andrea-Rachel. “In any case, we send over a set of questions that they answer and continue the process from there. So many companies offer the same things; it’s great to be able to personalize orders.”
According to Andrea-Rachel, the Internet has allowed her and other small businesses to exist and thrive. “The Internet has been great for small businesses. It has opened up small, local businesses to a larger market and made it much more accessible. It has allowed people to gain trust for companies more quickly than they normally would have because they now have access to online presentations and more consistent communication through social media,” she notes. “It has also allowed insight into alternative companies with a similar product because it gives companies a chance to see their competitors. Competitors are now more visible, so consumers get to see who offers what. In an ironic way, the Internet has also provided a sense of hope because it has given some small businesses free range to re-invent, re-brand and market themselves.”
Today, Andrea-Rachel is more than happy she turned her passion into a business. “I love informing people about the benefits of using organic products. I love expanding their minds to the idea of simple beauty allowing them to be their sexiest,” she says. “We have this notion, especially product junkies, that the more complicated the product ingredient, the more products we have or use, then the better it is for us and the closer we are to experiencing healthy skin and hair. That is far from the truth. Almost everything provided by the chemical engineers stem from organic natural finds like fruit and vegetables. The ones that don’t are usually too harsh to be on our skin and in our hair which may make us imbalanced, wiping away our naturals oils. Additionally, we still have no idea the true effects of the genetically modified ingredients in these products and have seen only negative effects thus far. So being able to inform and transition someone’s mentality makes me happy because I feel as though I am that much closer to getting people happier and healthier with who they are.”