Anyone who has launched their own business knows how long the journey from conception to realisation can be. And it was no different for Jess Hart.
“The most frustrating thing was how long it takes, especially living across the other side of the world,” says Jess down the line from her New York apartment. “So many times I just wanted to be like, ‘Whatever, let’s just get it out there,’ but I kept thinking, ‘No, I want every product to be right.’”
The 29-year-old mega model began building the foundations of her beauty brand Luma Cosmetics back in 2010, and in September 2014 her vision was finally realised on the shelves of almost 300 stores. The decision to launch her business came from not only a deep, by-proxy involvement in the beauty industry and knowing what she wanted (and didn’t want) from her beauty products.
“I’ve just touched and played with so much make-up in my time and I know it doesn’t have to necessarily be expensive to be good,” the Aussie says of her entrepreneurial pivot. “I knew what would work and I knew what I wanted.”
The result, she says, is a brand that concerns itself with enhancing features rather than covering them, directly reflecting Jess’s own ‘less-is-more’ beauty ethos. ’As well as being 100 per cent Australian-made, the 30-product-strong collection is as ethical and natural as possible, with no animal testing, no parabens or sulfates and ingredients that are all naturally derived.
Considering her very famous face was fronting the budding brand (and her hard work was being pumped into it), attempting to carve out a place an already-crowded industry was risky business. Yet Jess says she stayed true to her vision and feels that is what kept her unique in a rather saturated market.
“That’s what gave me my patience, I think,” she explains. “It’s so easy to just create things and put them in packages and throw them out there, so I really made sure that I took my time with it so that at the end of the day if, god forbid, no one liked it, at least I knew I’d given what I thought we needed within the beauty space.
“I took a risk in just putting everything into it that I really truly believed and took the time and effort in making every product as I would like it. And it’s so far, so good,” she says.
Reducing that risk was Jessica’s acute awareness of her customer. One notable example is the deliberately reasonable price point, with most items costing barely more than a movie ticket, which was a direct result of understanding and responding to their limits.
“At the beginning, our focus was a bit younger and I know that my fans are a lot younger,” she says frankly. “I didn’t want to put out a super expensive, super luxury brand when my fans are not necessarily ready for that or within the means of accessing that.”
While a global expansion is “100 per cent” a goal of Luma Cosmetics, Jess is careful to fall into the common habit of looking to her competition to dictate her pace.
“You can only admire everyone in the industry,” she says of her competition, “but I’ve never even done [comparisons] in my personal life: I’m so focused on what I’m doing and I don’t really let anything else interfere or distract me in any way. If there’s one thing we learn, it’s to never compare yourself to anyone or anything else.”
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