It’s winter, when whipping wind and dry air bring parched skin and chapped lips to most of us. Diva Samai, founder of Tevia Rose, has invented a product to help. Her online beauty store sells a lip balm to nourish and moisturize dry skin. Samai’s product is especially designed for women who like to use matte and other very drying lipsticks.
Why did you start the business?
I developed this product because I love to use makeup. I was using different lip balms that were higher-end and lower-end. I thought, “This is a product I would like to make, and I think other women will like it as well.” So, I created my company Tevia Rose for other women like myself who wanted a layer of hydration under their lipstick. I launched my product in 2015 and asked some celebrity clients to try it out like Katie Rost of The Real Housewives of Potomac and Jill Kargman of Bravo’s Odd Mom Out who actually really enjoyed the product. The business didn’t go as well after my launch in 2015. I decided this year to give it a revamp because it’s a passion of mine. I feel like I have a really great product and I want other people to use it as well.
How did you fund the business at the start?
I work. I’m a full-time contractor in the DMV Area (DC, Maryland, Virginia). I use the money that I have from my job to invest into my company.
Running the Business
How do you manage cash flow?
I don’t have an approach to manage cash flow at this moment. As time progresses, that may change. I am still working with my first batch of product. I hire people to do things that I can’t do myself (for example, my product brochures). Otherwise, I manage it all. I take what extra I have coming in from my job and invest it into my company.
What’s the most challenging thing about running the business?
Getting the word out. I have a really great product and I’m looking for a base for people to know about my product. I’m working on getting as much exposure as I can. I feel so passionate about my product, I really want people to know about it and what my company’s about. I just opened shop back up in October, so I have to remind myself to be persistent and things will pay off.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running the business?
The feedback I get from my clients. I just sponsored the Pow(H)er Awards, an event to honor people in social media. Wendy Williams and Soledad O’Brien were there. My product was featured in a gift basket, and I also gave one to the woman who invited me to the event, Tene Nicole. When I asked her about how she liked the product a few weeks later, she said, “I love it! It works really well!” Also, one of my coworkers purchased my product. She said, “I love it! I love the smell! When I’m out in public using it, people will come up to me and ask me, ‘What is that? Where is that good smell coming from?’” The product was made to help women feel good. I’m glad I’m able to share that with my clients.
What I’ve Learned
What’s the biggest mistake you made when you were starting out?
When I first launched in 2015, I gave up too soon. I didn’t know to be persistent in business. I don’t know anyone personally who has a really big successful business. I wish I had found a mentor to help me at that time. I wish I could have learned that it really takes commitment and believing in your product to get it out there for people to know about.
What’s the smartest thing you did when you were starting out?
I got my celebrity clients when I first launched in 2015. It was smart of me to reach out to them on social media. Most people see celebrities on TV and think they’re not accessible. But, you just never know how people will respond to your product. Don’t make any assumptions. Just put yourself out there.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Don’t feel like you have to have a lot of money and take out lots of loans. Invest money from your existing job into your company. Use that as leverage. You may have to make sacrifices. I sacrificed a car this year.
Study your industry. Look at other brands with similar products that are already out there. Get an idea and a feel for it. Ask yourself as a consumer, “Would I buy this product from this company?” Only start off if you feel that you have a product you would purchase.
Remain persistent in your goals. Surround yourself with positive people who are going to help you and support you.
What’s next for Tevia Rose?
I would like to get my product placed in brick and mortar stores this year. My goal is to pursue that. I want to continue to get my name out there on social media and maybe pursue some marketing. I feel that 2019 is going to be the year for Tevia Rose.
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