Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Fashion Focus:The Journey with Stephanie of ColorBox Cosmetics


The world of entrepreneurship in the beauty industry  can be quite challenging especially when there are no guidelines or modules as to what  exactly what steps you can follow. We had a chat with CEO on her journey to starting her brand ColorBox Cosmetics. Stephanie Adu born and raised in London to Ghanaian made her decision to come back to Ghana as the entrepreneurial bug  and call back home became too overwhelming.





Tell us about yourself? We want to know you more.

I was born and raised in London (England) to Ghanaian parents, but was fortunate enough to visit Ghana many times throughout my life. I decided to make the leap to move to Ghana just under 2 years ago as the entrepreneurial bug and call ‘back home’ became too overwhelming.
I have a fairly diverse background as although I have been involved in the cosmetic industry for over 10 years, I have a BSc Honours degree in Pharmacology from King’s College London, and ventured into a dynamic career in finance in Investment Banking. My passion for cosmetics has always played a prominent role in my life; whether it was in my student days working part time with several luxury brands, or trading cosmetic companies on stock exchanges, to now launching my very own cosmetic brand! I would describe myself as a confident, determined woman who strives for traits of hard-work and elegance to be represented in every aspect of my life, and I hope that this will continue to be seen through my vision and exhibit of Colorbox Cosmetics.

 Take us through the genesis of your brand?
I moved to Ghana with ambition and a plan; but before I made the move, I did my research and scanned the cosmetic industry layout to see where my value-add would be to this industry. It became clear very soon, that the lack of affordable luxury up-to-date cosmetics was an issue. So I first looked to partner with foreign cosmetic companies to launch here, but with the currency in turmoil, the African dream didn’t appeal as it once did to foreign investment. I was still convinced however that this was what I was meant to do in Ghana, and that it was the next step in my career.
From a challenge can come ingenuity, and I went from disappointing frustrations to creating Colorbox Cosmetics.  We started trading in November last year 2014 with a few hand selected affordable great quality tools, and have been growing impressively ever since.

How did you make your first sale?
Colorbox Cosmetics was launched through a pop-up shop in the A&C mall heading into the Christmas period. Our first sale was to a make-up artist who took a look at our products, tested the quality and became a fan! Quality sells itself, and this is and will remain to be one of our key strengths.

What habits and mindsets  helped make you successful?
I’m still very much on the path to success, but the habits of deliberate and diligent organization, cross-checking everything, listening to the needs of our customers, and rectifying mistakes quickly are helping me along the way. In our business environment, making contingency plans are crucial, and that’s also been very key for me on this journey. I always keep in mind that ‘Success is not how well plan A is executed; it’s how smoothly we cope with plan B’ also Being strategic and planning ahead, pushing for the best standard in everything I do, and having an unbendable attitude towards success.
Who are your competitors?
The Colorbox Cosmetics mission has always been to satisfy a void in the market. Therefore we only sell cutting-edge cosmetic products that are not your usual find when walking into a Ghanaian cosmetic store. When we launch a broader line of color cosmetics, I believe this may make Colorbox Cosmetics more comparable to other brands on the market.

How did you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Colorbox Cosmetics distinguishes itself from other cosmetic companies by continuing to pursue an in-depth understanding of current and future trends in the beauty industry. We aim to adapt those demands to this environment in a timely manner in a way which makes sense to our clients. Colorbox Cosmetics is also very keen in finding inventive ways to reach our clients in spaces they already are.
As a brand, we also pride ourselves on largely working with new up and coming talented individuals including make-up artists, models and photographers on projects (apart from the amazing established Bob Pixel! which I had the pleasure of working with), and although this often requires more effort and nurturing in the initial stages, the results are usually amazingly creative and professional.


What was your biggest mistake?
I wish I hadn't waited as long to launch Colorbox Cosmetics -although a large amount of time was spent performing necessary market research. This delay however, isn’t a regret – it’s merely a lesson learnt for future projects. Sometimes, the best way to learn is to simply start, as there is so much learning from ‘doing’.


What would you have done differently?
I would have started Colorbox Cosmetics earlier, but if I had done that, I would have probably started smaller too.

How did you deal with failure?
I do not believe I have failed in anything, but I believe I have definitely been challenged. This makes me far from unique as there isn’t a business nor person who is free from challenges in their lifetime.
It was however definitely a challenging time when foreign brands & investors pulled out of the partnership plan to launch in Ghana.
I had to take a step back, re-group and allow an opportunity to surface through that challenge. The process was painful but it is absolutely necessary, as without it I wouldn’t have been able to see the bigger opportunity to grow a brand myself, and not continue to help make somebody else’s dream a reality.


What did you  learn from failure?
Adapting under disappointment is crucial, along with realizing the difference between a painful scratch and a mortal wound.
Sometimes you have to ‘learn to dance in the rain instead of expecting the storm to stop’; and I learnt that whilst ‘dancing’, you should look for that ‘open door’, try to put plans in place to avoid similar past mistakes and go for it again.
How has the response been in Ghana?
Better than I expected, and I am extremely pleased about this! It proves that my chosen strategy is correct, and hard work with planning is paying off.  I have had the invaluable chance to interactive with different segments of women travelling across the country, and the feedback has been fantastic.
Sometimes however, the sheer level of effort and intensity required in this business (with little to no sleep) can heighten frustrations, but when I see our client’s reception to the brand - it re-evokes the passion, and gratitude overwhelms me as I realize I am getting closer to my vision. I always say to ‘Be grateful for the things you have or that has happened, and you will attract more good things’.
I have also had the opportunity to feature repeatedly on prime-time TV shows including The One Show, and due to sheer demand will be launching a youTube channel very soon!

Any future plans to collaborate with makeup artists, beauty bloggers or individuals in the fashion industry?
Colorbox Cosmetics has many creative ideas to work with new up & coming talented makeup artists, photographers and models for future projects (and of course talented established ones too!), so we look forward to meeting and collaborating with such individuals in a mutually beneficial partnership. In light of this, we definitely encourage TV shows, bloggers, fashion designers and the like to get in touch with us on social media or at info@colorboxcosmetics.com.
Catchup with her make tutorials via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PR4qFJNp8Y

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