The cosmetics industry is in full force, with a myriad of celebs and social media influencers maximizing its full potential. Charlotte’s very own Tanita Winchester has been making some strides in her own way when she introduced her line, A’jah Lip Crème back in 2015. We got a chance to chat with her about her journey as a business woman, the struggles she had to overcome and she even shared some advice for those wanting to start their own business.
What made you get into the cosmetics industry?
I really wasn’t a makeup girl to begin with. I was a BIG tomboy growing up but eventually grew into wearing lip-gloss only. After a while, I ventured into wearing foundation and such. What sparked me getting into the Cosmetics Industry was buying a name brand lip-gloss for an amount I would never spend. Then my Mom mentioned that I should make my own and the light bulb went off.
What were your first few major hurdles that you had to overcome when starting?
My first few major hurdles in starting my line was making sure I knew what’s lip-safe. Most cosmetic companies use products that are harmful and I wanted to make sure to formulate a gloss that was natural. Also the consistency. I can’t tell you how many times I battled with different formulations until I FINALLY got the right formulation to start mixing the glosses.
Did you seek out any mentors along the way? If you did, what did they teach you?
I didn’t seek out any mentors. For the most part, two of my closest friends were my biggest supporters so I reached out to them at the time and told them about me making my own lip gloss. They were just as excited as I was when I came to them. So I wouldn’t say they were mentors but they were two people’s opinions I respected in what I was about to do.
Was there a specific audience you were trying to market to in the beginning? And has that changed since establishing the brand?
Yes there was a specific audience I was trying to reach when starting my business and it hasn’t changed, it has remained the same. My audience is what I like to call: the “The Urban Woman”. She’s that woman that’s on the go, works her 9-5 and can transition into happy hour on some days. She’s that woman who loves to travel, loves to try new things and is ready for new opportunities when they come her way. She’s beautiful, she’s intelligent, very outgoing. She is also a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, all of the above that represents the brand and the person who made the brand…which is me.
What are some major pros and cons of being a female entrepreneur?
Well for me, the pros are I get to meet new people in the events that I do attend and vend at, it’s easy for us women because we have an advantage over men when it comes to business, we love to buy everything lol. Sometimes the price doesn’t matter. We are more persuasive and connect better when it comes to business, especially with the type of business that I have. The cons for me, is that sometimes you can get those women who are just not friendly. And it’s crazy because due to personal things that have happened in my life, I was a bit apprehensive with women unfortunately. It’s something that I have overcome because I have a business that CATERS to women. Also another con is there is always competition. We all want to be the QUEEN of everything and I’m in a VERY over-saturated market where everybody wants to make cosmetics but I know my niche. I know my personality and I know my clientele. I was born to stand out and my brand represents what I have going on and what I’m trying to do.
Do you follow a certain morning routine to maximize your productivity throughout the day?
No Morning Routine. For the most part, I make my products on a “Made to Order” type routine. Someone makes an order through my website and ONLY IF I haven’t already made that color, is when I actually make the product, bottle it, label it and ship it.
Where does most of your inspiration come from when developing products?
My inspiration comes from my daughter. I named the brand after her. I wanted to leave a legacy to my daughter, something that she can be proud of just as well as I was when I first created A’jah Lip Crème.
What skills did you have before starting your business that has helped you through the A’jah Lip Crème process?
I went to college for Fashion and Marketing Management. Although I did not graduate, a lot of marketing skills that I had learned came from when I attended college. Also, we got a chance to make our own product in one of my courses that I took, so a lot of those skills transferred into making items and branding and marketing.
Do you have a hobby that you enjoy outside of your business ventures?
Hobbies? Oh girl lol, I love going out with friends, spending time with my daughter, traveling, eating lol I love food.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own business?
Just Do it. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and you are not going to make a million bucks in your first quarter…unless you somebody like Supa Cent lol but be patient and enjoy the ride. Have fun while making that money and always remember to keep your eyes on the ultimate prize which is SUCCESS.