Amanda’s Cosmetics has some very exciting things to release soon, in light of what Amanda Gitau’s customers want. With a total of eight collections available, each full with an array of lipglosses and cream shimmers, each and every product is handmade with 100% vegan, natural and cruelty-free ingredients. We are excited to talk to 18-year-old Amanda about her boot-strapped start-up, and we are even more so excited to help support her desires to make it to the top.
Ok well I just turned 18 so I’m still in Sixth form, where I spend 6 hours of my day, every day. After, I usually go to the library if I’m not working, or I’ll stay in Oxford city centre with friends if I feel like I deserve a break. Then I’ll go home and sleep, I’m notorious for how much I love sleep!
Can you talk to us about your brand Amandas Cosmetics?
Amanda’s Cosmetics is a makeup company designed with products for people of colour at the core, but at a budget. I make everything by hand and I know exactly what goes into each product – all good, natural stuff.
How did you get started?
I began making lipsticks for myself, bright colours that you couldn’t easily come across in shops with an undertone that made sense for a black girl like myself. I invited a close friend over, who lived across the road at the time, for an impromptu photoshoot and feedback. This was an entire year before I officially launched Amanda’s Cosmetics!
Can you talk us through the creative process of Amandas Cosmetics?
It all started with an idea in my head – perhaps based off something I use personally that I think I can improve, or a trend, or something a customer has recommended. This idea comes to me at any hour, whether I’m asleep or in a chemistry exam, I have to write it down as soon as possible for me to work on when I get home. Once I get home, I brainstorm my ideas in a notebook assigned to Amanda’s Cosmetics. From there, I look up ingredients, packaging and work towards a release date and a promotional campaign. Since the company and I are one body, this all has to revolve around when I’m free, which can be quite a challenge since I’m super busy – I love being extremely busy because it keeps me focused. That’s not even the hard part – organising models and a space to shoot is next, followed by editing what I get and getting everyone involved to keep the upcoming release a secret! That’s about it.
How much research did you undertake prior to launching Amandas Cosmetics??
I never envisioned myself in a career where I worked for someone else, I always knew that Amanda’s Cosmetics would be my life and growing up, it was just a matter of when. I began wearing what I made and posting it in 2016 I’d say. So I’d spent hours researching and buying ingredients to make and test out on myself, I’d also try different techniques I’d find online, as well as combine with experimental procedures I’d learned from studying at school – the sciences were my passion so I naturally incorporated what I’d studied. I finally launched on the 19th August 2017 and have been going strong ever since.
What about any challenging times you have had to overcome? When were they and how did you learn to overcome them?
Challenges I’ve faced often come from feeling so behind or inferior to other brands. I’m not even talking Yves Saint Laurent, Tarte or IT Cosmetics as those are the ones who don’t cater for an entire demographic, I mean smaller, but upcoming brands like Bahi Cosmetics and Beauty Bakerie. It’s just important to not despise small beginnings and understand that it’s not a race or a competition, there’s enough success for everyone. I just take inspiration and motivation from those companies now and their owners too, who are often young students like myself.
Other difficulties arise from sourcing ingredients, they tend to be more expensive this side of the Atlantic, so sourcing and the trial and error process can be slowed down or hindered by this, I definitely overcome this by finding alternatives and tailoring it the Amanda way! Of course, squeezing in Amanda’s Cosmetics in my life is always a challenge but it’s a passion that keeps me sane when juggling studying, work, and social life.
Have you ever had to deal with any doubts of contention or lack of support from relatives or friends? If so how did you push through?
Something I discovered throughout my journey is that often the people who’ll support you most are people you don’t know personally. To begin with, I’d get really affected when my friends didn’t buy my products, or share a post but I realised that the people I actually know are such a small percentage of my sales or target market, so why focus on winning them over?
There are so many other people out there who’d love to wear Amand’s Cosmetics and I find support in the strangest of places. From my mum’s work colleagues to my supplier, to people on the street who ask what I’m wearing. Another realisation I made was that friends and family support in different ways. I know not all my friends even wear makeup, so I can’t expect them to buy mine. Or some don’t have sisters to buy makeup for, that’s not them being unsupportive at all. Those same friends will be the first ones to offer to drive me to a shoot or circulate my latest collection and that type of support means just as much.
Did you have a mentor?
Ask anyone, I’m a very strong-minded and independent type of person, I feel like I’d be stifled by a mentor because I’m too stubborn and I like to ride my own wave without confirmation or approval from anyone.
One day, I’d love to have a mentor, someone I can learn from and go to for advice, but for now, I’m more than happy to make my own mistakes. I certainly have people I look up to and people I’m grateful for helping me with Amanda’s Cosmetics. It was actually my youth group who gave me the final push to begin Amanda’s Cosmetics before the summer, as well as friends and relatives who were surprised I hadn’t started selling yet!
What does success look like in your eyes?
Success is ultimate happiness. I want Amanda’s Cosmetics to be a global empire that I run, still holding the ethical values I have now at its core. I want to do this all surrounded by the people I love the most. That’s the goal and I’ll achieve it surely by God’s grace alone.
What outlets do use to market Amandas Cosmetics?
I use every outlet possible! Social media is a big one, Amanda’s Cosmetics is active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat to come. I’d say I have a big circle of influence so the word of mouth is a powerful thing of significant benefit to me. Just the mere fact of someone knowing someone who knows me has enabled me to ship orders everywhere, from Austria to Hawaii.
How do you intend to compete with bigger cosmetics brands out there?
I don’t see these bigger brands as competition, simply because they’ve overlooked people of colour for so long by not creating makeup for us – on the basis of “black people don’t wear makeup”. They don’t provide makeup for us to wear! I aspire to be like brands that have stayed true to my mum’s makeup purse for years, like Sleek, these firms have made products that work for us and our skin, despite changing management. Smaller and ethical companies I mentioned before are great inspirations to me rather than competition. I love Lush and Bodyshop too for those reasons, but I definitely don’t see it as competition at all – simply more inspiration and motivation for me to feed off of.
How are you currently funding your business?
Everything Amanda’s Cosmetics related has been funded by myself entirely, from the products to packaging, to the launch party. I have a job and I use what I earn to pay for my new collections, I haven’t asked or received any money from parents or family to start this, it was so important to me that I do it myself.
Are you looking to get investment?
I found getting investment to be difficult before I was 18, it would have had to be in someone else’s name so I painstakingly waited until my birthday and from there the funding applications went flying so I’m super excited to see what opportunities arise from that too.
What do your business development plans look like?
Is it awful that I don’t have any specific business development plans?! I reckon once I get funding, I’ll think more diligently about how I plan to use the money to develop and expand further. For now, I’ll just continue creating what I love for other people to love.
What is the best piece of advice you have received to date?
The best pieces of advice would come straight from the Bible as that’s what drives me to get up and get started in the mornings. It’s my first port of call and it suits any situation – definitely not as outdated or irrelevant as people think!
What Youtube or online space channels are watching currently for inspiration?
I’ll try to name every woman I’m watching at the moment, a majority are beauty influencers that I’d definitely recommend you follow-up on Youtube or social media: Jackie Aina, Nikkie Tutorials, Nella Rose, Aaliyah Marie Bee, Grace Ajilore, Patrick Starr, Cydbee, Patricia Bright, Chanel Boateng, Gigi Beauty, Winnie Harlow,Shantania Beckford, Nissy Tee, Lizzie Loves, Latoyah Forever, Alissa Ashley, Shalom Blac and so so many more.
Although what you see on social media is nowhere near the whole picture, I absolutely adore the lifestyles they lead of doing what they love with the people they love, and looking gorgeous while doing it!
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
It’s exam season so the only books I’m reading are textbooks and revision guides, unfortunately! Nose deep in that, the Bible or news articles are what you’ll find me reading usually. I hope to get back into reading for pleasure though.
Lastly, what is next for Amandas Cosmetics?
Who knows what’s next for Amanda’s Cosmetics! I can’t reveal too much, I’m a strong believer in not blocking your own blessings by telling everything too early, but I can say I’ve got something big releasing in June, as well as some surprises throughout the year. Amanda’s Cosmetics turns 1 in August and that’s a milestone I want to celebrate in style.
Twitter: @amandascosmetics00 | Instagram: @amandascosmetics