Maria Kara: Essential Seven
“I’m a young woman. I started this business all by myself, and self-funded the whole thing. It’s important to me that other young people know it’s possible, and that those who use my products feel empowered and create looks that make them feel confident to go out into the world and achieve their own goals.”
What started off as a part-time job soon turned into a full-time business as Make-Up Artist, Maria Kara, swept away competition in the cosmetics industry with her “Essential Seven” brush kit. Focusing in on a niche in the saturated beauty industry, through ﬁrst hand experience and extensive research, Maria combined creativity and quality to create her personal line of make-up brushes, with a viable small business in her hands, all before she turned 25.
“So many times I’d be working and people would ask me for advice on how they can recreate these looks at home.” said Maria.
“I’d start explaining a process and going through the amount of brushes I use on them and I noticed people were extremely overwhelmed, thinking they needed all these items to ‘look good’.”
Understanding the need to simplify the make-up application process, Maria sought to reduce the amount of brushes people need to an essential kit that could create the same professional look, with half the items.
“People assume you need 15 - 20 brushes to do something incredible. You don’t. After a couple of months of sampling brushes, I narrowed it down from 140 to just an essential seven and started developing my product from there.”
With a gruelling, 18-month long conception, design and manufacturing process that began in 2013, Maria Kara’s “Essential Seven” brushes have subsequently featured at Vogue’s Fashion Night Out, and has been coined as key tools by several famous beauty bloggers, even receiving endorsement from personalised accessory brand “The Daily Edit”.
Here are Maria’s essential seven tips to small business success:
“Patience is everything. It was 18 months before I was even ready to sell a single brush. If you want the perfect product, you need to take all the time you can to research and create it” says Maria.
The process of finding a designer, manufacturer and supplier who could produce the product she envisioned, Maria recounts, was an “extremely long process”, particularly when dealing with manufacturers and suppliers internationally.
“Unfortunately Australia doesn’t have much of a manufacturing market for something as niche as make up brushes, so outsourcing everything abroad added a logistical challenge and meant I had to be that much more patient to make sure my vision didn’t get lost in translation.”
“Make up brushes are either thrown in makeup bags or drawers where they’re dirty and lose their use quite quickly, which is something I wanted to change with my product.” highlights Maria.
Exercising her creativity, Maria developed the most iconic part of the Essential Seven brush kit line: the packaging. Using a perspex box stand that holds all seven brushes in a clear case, and doubles as a make-up mixing palette, Maria combined practicality and innovation for an aesthetic product that looks great on a vanity.
Running the entire operation by herself, Maria quickly grasped the financial ropes in order to sustain her business. “I learnt a lot about spending money effectively to make money, especially in the design and production phase” she recalls.
With an entirely self-funded business, understanding her budget promoted clever investments and strategic spending in order to bring the Essential Seven makeup brush kit to fruition.
“I had to be very careful with how I’d spend and hope it’d all pay off!” she laughs.
As a newcomer to the world of entrepreneurship, Maria found engaging with people who had an idea of how to run a business and knew their way around the manufacturing industry, made the entire process less daunting. Confessing she’s “definitely not a tech wiz”, Maria added “outsourcing things you can’t do and mobilising the help of others will inevitably benefit your business”.
With an incredibly innovative product, the unique packaging of the brush kit came with it’s challenges, raising concerns for the online stores operation.
“When ﬁrst ordering the products from overseas, often I found my samples would arrive to me broken or damaged because I hadn’t speciﬁed how to package them, so I quickly learnt what I needed to tell my suppliers in order to get my business up and running. The last thing I would want would be for my products to arrive damaged to my customers so it was an important thing to consider, especially as an online business.”
“A lot of my business was conducted internationally, so understanding and researching all the restrictions and protocols on things like shipping is key if you want to import things as seamlessly as possible.” Maria explains.
“I’m a young woman. I started this business all by myself, and self-funded. It’s important to me that other young people know it’s possible, and that those who use my products feel empowered and create looks that make them feel conﬁdent to go out into the world and achieve their own goals.”
Maria Kara is one of the youngest Head Honcho’s we’ve ever spoken to. With a viable niche business and keen eye for innovative design, Maria Kara’s tips for small business success prove age and wisdom isn’t everything in the entrepreneurial world.
Maria Kara is one of the youngest Head Honcho’s we’ve ever spoken to. With a viable niche business and eye for innovative design, Maria Kara’s tips for small business success prove age and wisdom isn’t everything in the entrepreneurial world.