My name is Jessica Ayari Toro and six years ago I decided to pursue my dream and turn it into a career. As a NYC-based certified professional makeup artist, I came across a number of women who would always ask me if I knew of a good spa, tanning salon or manicurist. It later dawned on me: what if there was ONE place where women could get pampered with their favorite beauty services all under one roof on the same day? Could I really create such a huge undertaking? Do I really want to dive into the world of being a true entrepreneur? I didn't know the first thing about running a real business, besides spending an hour making people pretty in their homes.
In 2010, I took a leap of faith and launched The Glossy Party, an eventful day for women of all ages to take a time out from the chaos of NYC and get taken care of by beauty experts in makeup, skin care, spray tanning, brow shaping, lash extensions and manicures in a fun, social, party atmosphere. Women today are all about saving time and money. And if they can do that in one central destination, they'll be thrilled. It's also great for our participating spas, salons and beauty vendors. Our vendors are given exposure to women who love all things beauty, and it is a perfect way for salons and spas to attract new potential customers in the most cost-effective way.
While I worked on developing the initial concept two years ago, I knew my business had to solve a problem instead of searching for problems it might solve. See, when you create a problem-driven business, eventually you will be of great use to those who need a solution. And if you are unique enough and readily available, your business will flourish quickly. Therefore, you'll need to know your customer base and their needs. I thought about why someone should spend their time and money on my event. We generate new attendees every year through word of mouth because our concept is UNIQUE.
The process of developing my business as a female entrepreneur took a lot of dedication, perseverance and resources. Though it can be challenging, owning your own business is not impossible. I learned a couple of practical tips for starting and running a small but growing business that I hope are beneficial to you if you are trying to start your own:
Pick a great team. People are everything and will make or break your business. Your organization is only as good as the people behind it. Find people who have passion, commitment and creativity. I like to surround myself with a community of people who acquire some traits that remind me of myself in some way, but that have expertise in what I lack. Hire people you respect most but don't be afraid to be relentless about creating an amazing team
Your marketing efforts should overlap. Working at LeMetric, I realized you should invest in your company by spending your money on advertising, PR, social networking, direct mail, e-mail campaigns and any other ways to build brand awareness through all outlets simultaneously. Using only Facebook and Twitter helps a little, but it won't work as your only means of marketing. You need to attract a huge audience first before you can engage a small percentage of people who actually want to try out what you are offering.
Think outside the box. I thought of a way to get my name and brand out there. I thought creating an educational makeup series was the way to do it until I realized I don't enjoy teaching. But to promote my classes, I launched a party to get the word out and it was hugely successful. Make sure your brand will have everyone talking. Standing out from the crowd goes a long way!
Be tenacious. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Recognize your biggest challenges and when you face them, push yourself to overcome them. You have to decide what YOU want, not what others want you to do. Focus on the bigger picture and have a clear vision of where you want your company to go. Trust yourself enough so that you are willing to do whatever it takes to make something work.
Jessica Ayari Toro is the founder of Ayari's Makeovers, Inc., and will host "The Ultimate Beauty & Balance Night: Makeovers, Makeup Lessons & Massages" on June 20, 2012 during S.H.E. Summit Week. S.H.E. Summit Week, taking place June 18-24, is New York City's first "women's week," with 35+ events designed for, by and about women to inspire each other in work, life & everything in between. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit shesummitweek.com.