Sushana Cole, 31, has always loved beauty and the entrepreneurial bug bit her as a young child in Jamaica looking to empower herself financially and professionally.
As a Revlon-trained makeup artist, she knew she could supplement her craft with a business that actually offered her own products.
“I had a cosmetics store for about three years before I started and my customers always requested weird-colored lipsticks,” the owner of All Dolled Up Cosmetics says of what sparked the launch of her latest venture.
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“I tried to buy wholesale a few places but to no avail, so I went ahead and did my research, and that’s how I came up with Lippies by Shana. It was so good that my customers started asking when I’m going to do face products, so I launched Face by Shana.”
Her liquid lipsticks are waterproof, a major draw for women in the hotter, more tropical climates, and her foundations cater to a range of skin tones. They are also packaged in the U.S. and cruelty-free.
With just $4,000 ($500,000 Jamaican dollars), she upgraded her Website, boosted her social media presence and used funds from her brick-and-mortar store to continue to invest in her online presence to make the beauty product lines popular. Her Instagram alone has grown from a couple hundred to now more than 24,000 followers in less than two years since she officially launched the lines, and those who used the products include Caribbean entertainment and music industry celebrities such as radio and TV host Khadine “Miss Kitty” Hylton, dancehall sensation Ce’Cile and fashionistas and beauty influencers stateside.
Here are three simple steps that took Cole from her Jamaica-based business from local to global, using Instagram:
1. Be consistent and post as frequently as your customer base consumes. Make sure you test your products yourself and you can attest to the greatness of whatever you offer to the market for yourself. Show this on your platforms. “I also make sure that I post at least once per day to stay relevant and remind my customers that I’m still around,” Cole says.
2. Be strategic with your posts by using curated hashtags, and create a schedule. Cole’s posts are strategic, with at least one per week about the actual product offers, she says, alternating between the lip line and the face line, and she posts all customers who use her branded hashtags such as #LippiesByShana or #FaceByShana.
“People can view how the lip color or foundation would look on certain skin tones and that could lead to me getting a new customer,” she adds. “It also shows my customers that I appreciate them,” and the hashtags can be shared to go viral.
3. Video is king, and people relate to interactive visuals very well. “I’ve definitely seen more customers since I started taking Instagram seriously, especially when I post how-to videos. They love those details!” Cole says. She’s also gotten the attention of media outlets and prospective partners because she’s using Instagram not just to post photos but to highlight her artistry via video and be a resource.