So often, college students tend to think that it is impossible to develop their brand while in school.
Yes, you are young. Yes, you have school to focus on. However, building your brand can be done no matter what stage of life you are in. Starting early will give you a head start on others who chose to wait until after college or much later.
You may be wondering what it exactly means to “build your brand.” Your brand is what sets you apart from the rest. It is what future employers, business partners, and colleagues will remember you for. Building your brand is simply creating something that will allow you to show the world what you stand for and what is important to you.
Having trouble developing your brand? What is it that you love to do or have a passion for? Whatever your answer is, make that your brand. Turn what you like into something that people will recognize you for. For example, if you love to blog, create your own blog site. If you love graphic design, make a business out of it by making logos, flyers, etc.
If you love cosmetics, then do what this student did while she was just an undergraduate in college. We sat down with the co-founder of Burst Cosmetics, Brea Green, to talk more about her brand. Just like many other college students, she had a vision and went for it while pursuing an education.
Brea is a first year graduate student at Georgia State University studying Nutrition. During her collegiate career, she has been involved in various organizations which include NSCS, Nutrition Student Network, Alpha Lambda Delta National Honors Society, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. With all of this on her plate, she still managed to start something big! Alongside her sisters, she founded her dream in 2013 and launched the cosmetic line in May 2014; the company has taken off since then. Let’s see what this ambitious college student had to say about her company and what it took to accomplish her goals as a co-founder.
Everything Exclusive: So, tell me a little about your company and the inspiration behind it.
Brea Green: I have always wanted to start a cosmetic line, but like with every dream, it’s hard to find the courage to put dreams into reality. I have always been into makeup and as a self-taught makeup artist I knew in the future I would have to do something with my dreams and talents. However, the inspiration started one day when my sister was look for a particular purple lipstick, spending countless hours in different cosmetics stores and being on a budget she was disappointed with the outcome. Being fed up, she came to me and said, “Hey lets start our own cosmetic line.” As skeptical as I was, I told her no, because cosmetic industry is huge, so makeup is everywhere. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to make it against MAC, Bobby Brown, all of the big cosmetics lines. But after fully thinking it through I said, “why not” we only can only sink and learn from our mistakes or swim and be successful and be proud of the decision made. So after that Burst Cosmetics was born. Our goal was to create lipstick that not only look good on light complexions but could BURST on women of color!
EE: What were some hardships that you faced while developing your company?
BG: Product, number one; time, and then money. With product, you have to make a bunch of product. We first started making lipsticks out of our own kitchen. Now I know what your thinking, “we in the kitchen making lip crack”. We would be up late nights for several hours. However, there was a purpose behind the playing scientist in the kitchen. Now, staying up late took a toll on me because as an undergraduate student, in my senior year, trying to finish homework and projects were my first priorities. It was fun in a way, but at the same time at the end of that day it was like, is this realistic? Are we going to be able to make a plethora of lipsticks? No! So, we used other resources and decided to take a trip to L.A. for IMATS, which is a makeup trade show. At IMATS we found what we were looking for…a manufacturer who could formulate the lipsticks however we want (colors, smell, consistency etc.) Not only was the main product an issue in producing, but also trying to get the other important factors in the business started up (website, business cards, tubes, logo, branding, photo-shoot etc.) Let’s not forget, I was in my senior so graduation and stress was at the top of my list. With money, we’re new and as college students, we didn’t have as much money. So, we had to go to “Daddy Green” (laughter) and try to get him to fund us as much as possible. At the end of the day, we will be paying him back!
EE: How did your collegiate life effect the start-up of this business (in regards to time management, grades, involvement, etc.)?
BG: Well, as far as my Nutrition degree going along with this cosmetic line, it doesn’t. So, I feel like with college, prioritizing your time and being able to sacrifice things that as college student you wouldn’t want to give up such as partying, going out EVERY weekend and spending money recklessly on clothes that you do not need because all that money and time needs to be put into your business. Although managing your time and budget seems impossible when you’re a college student, imagine trying to balance a business on top of that. While this might sound scary it can easily be done with dedication.
EE: During this process, what were some things that you learned about the importance of branding yourself?
BG: For me, although I do work with two of my other sisters, I’ve always categorized myself as the social media type of person. Not really a “promoter” type, but if I really did have to promote, I will go out and get new customers and promote our business. With my sisters, having other personal brands as well with the company helps because somebody may have a stronger asset you. For instance, my sister can go out and talk to people; she is not scared. With me, I’ll stay behind the scenes because some days I just don’t feel like dealing with people. Although, customer service is a big thing that Burst Cosmetics tries to strive for, I have two other sisters that can do that very well. Me, I’m still working on it, but as far as sending emails and being behind the scenes, that’s my forte.
EE: How has your brand helped you while pursuing other endeavors?
BG: As far as being very personable and being able to talk to people in a friendly manner, it’s gotten a lot of opportunities for Burst Cosmetics. I’ve collaborated with Kenneth Wright from Klean Collars Inc. for For Sisters Only. Kenneth [FSO’s Collaboration Partner] met me on a panel and he thought that bringing Burst Cosmetics along to collab with his male apparel line would bring in not only sales, but also exposure for the company. I will say he was exactly right! Which leads me to my next point, networking as well has gotten me a long way too. Other endeavors that we’ve had include a speaking on a panel for Infinite Appeal at Georgia State, having makeup artist review our products on social media and in magazines. Also, being able to have an article about our company in this magazine. So, having the drive and physically and mentally pushing yourself, although some things you just do not want to do is the key to getting different beneficial opportunities for your company. Although, my sisters and I might be exhausted with doing things for Burst Cosmetics, at the end of the day we know what our goal is and that to be successful and make this cosmetics line go worldwide.
EE: What advice would you give to a college student who is struggling with building their brand?
BG: Find something that you enjoy doing because that is the only way you are going to be able to build your brand and build on top of your brand. Say for instance, you love being on Instagram. You could be the social media chair of any organization or of your particular company. If you are headstrong and you like to get work done, you could be the head or chair for your company as well. You just have to know what you like to do and pursue it. You don’t always have to be the boss of your company; sometimes you going to have to take that step back and try to work with others. At the end of day, if you’re doing something that you love to do, your brand will build on top of itself.
As you see, building your brand while maintaining your college career is not always easy. Just like Brea and her sisters, you will have to dedicate a lot of time and effort to succeed. Nevertheless, do NOT let this discourage you from getting an early start. The earlier you begin, the more time you have to perfect your brand.
It can be done! You could own your company, start your own magazine or do whatever it is that you’re passionate about as a college student. All it takes is the motivation to START. Brea, among many other college students, are making their dreams happen NOW. So, what’s stopping you?
-Be Bold. Be Beautiful. Be URST! Visit www.burstcosmetics.com for some amazing deals and lipsticks that BURST in color!
Interview conducted by: Michaela C., Associate Editor