StartItUp Conference 2017: HiQ Cosmetics CEO and co-Founder / UNG Alumnus Patrick Pickens

StartItUp Conference 2017: HiQ Cosmetics CEO and co-Founder / UNG Alumnus Patrick Pickens

Posted by


– Well good morning, everyone! First off, thank you so much for being. Do you guys hear me? Okay, good. Thank you guys so much for being here. I know it’s early in the
morning and I know some of you had to deal with traffic so I really appreciate
you guys being here. And special thanks to the
University of North Georgia for letting me come here to speak. But my name is Patrick Pickens, and I believe my slide should be up here? Or here? Okay, so we’ll start. So as I said, I am co-owner
and founder and CEO of HiQ Cosmetics. And it’s pronounced HiQ. I guess that kinda looks like HiK, if you wanna speak Spanish, but it’s HiQ. It’s not hick, we get
that a lot so, it’s HiQ. But again, my name’s
Patrick Pickens and I am co-owner and CEO of HiQ Cosmetics. And to tell you a little bit about me, I actually went to the
University of North Georgia. And while at the University
of North Georgia, I studied chemistry. I have my B.S. in chemistry with a minor in biology. And yes, I am a nerd, I
love science, I love data, and that’s what I’m all about. And so, shortly after, while
at University of North Georgia I was a Intro Leader or a
Freshman Orientation Leader for three years. I was also Student Government
Association President for two years. And so I actually was on the Consolidation Implementation Committee, so when Gainesville State
College and University of, I mean North Georgia College
and State University merged and became the University
of North Georgia, I was one of two or three
students that were on the Consolidation
Implementation Committee, and I actually worked
with Dr. Bonita Jacobs, who’s awesome, she’s the president of the University of North Georgia. And learned a lot there. I think that really helped me with kind of becoming confident
being in front of people, but as well as helped me
with my leadership skills. And North Georgia has a really great way of fostering leadership and really taking people and really helping them grow to be what they wanna be. So while also at the
University of North Georgia, I did undergraduate research. And I’ll get to that
later, but I actually did undergraduate research with
my now business partner, Holly Carpenter, who I’ll
introduce a little bit later. But I was able to attend
several scientific conferences throughout the U.S. and even
had a trip to Nice, France where I was able to present my research at a really cool place in Nice, France. If you ever go, Nice is the place to be. So after graduation, I worked at the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. I worked on the Natural Center
for Environmental Health. And some of you may know the
CDC from The Walking Dead. It is the place that actually
blew up in The Walking Dead. But the place that blew up
is actually not the CDC. It’s the Cobb Energy
Performing Arts Center. But here’s proof that
I actually did science. It’s a horrible selfie that I took. And I’m actually not allowed
to take photos at the CDC, but I’m such a rebel,
I guess, I don’t know. And so while at the CDC, I
was in newborn screening. And so when a baby’s born, they actually take the heel of the baby, they prick it, and then
they take the blood and test it for different
genetic disorders. And so my job at the CDC
was to come up with all the quality control
and proficiency testing materials that are sent out
throughout the whole world. But I also came up with
different scientific assays that test the blood for
different genetic disorders. So I have two assays that
are actually implemented throughout the whole world
that I helped create, so that was really cool. And something that’s
even cooler about it is pretty much everyone here in this room had their heel pricked
when they were a baby, and you probably just don’t know about it. But that’s kinda what it looks like, and then you test the blood
and they put it on these dried paper and that’s
called a dried blood spot, and then they test the blood for different genetic disorders
and they treat the babies, or newborns if they
have a genetic disorder. So while at the CDC, I was kind of going two
different places all at once. And while at the CDC, we
actually branded, launched, created kinda everything
all at the same time, kinda came together and
we launched HiQ Cosmetics. So that was a really busy time. I’d go to work, I’d have to step outside and take phone calls and I was
doing phone calls over lunch, and that just kinda kept the ball rolling. When you start with a business, there’s a lot of different moving parts. And for us, we do skincare, so you have different
bottles that you have to get, you have to have different pump tops, and you have to source the ingredients, find a manufacturer, and
kinda the list goes on and on. And I’ll get into that in a little bit. But now I’m gonna embarrass Holly. Holly’s actually here today. So I’m going to have her stand up ’cause I think it’s really important. She’s kinda the other
half of this whole thing. But this is Dr. Holly Carpenter. Give her a warm round of applause. (audience applauding) And I’m really excited
because she’s actually gonna come up here and finish the speech for me. No, not really. Little bit about Holly. Holly was actually a tenured professor at the University of North Georgia. She taught biochemistry,
medicinal chemistry, and she was in the
Department of Chemistry. And I did undergraduate
research with Holly. And you can see that’s a
picture of Holly and I. That’s actually a
brochure that we send out in our packages. It’s a great way to personalize
a brand when you send out marketing materials. But here are two pictures of Holly and I. Holly and I have had
the privilege to kinda travel the world a little bit. And it’s been kinda great. So the top photo, which is
actually to the top right, was in Ibiza, and then
obviously that’s San Francisco at the Golden Gate Bridge. And I hope these work, okay good. So we worked on a project
funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. And so I always like to show this ’cause I think it’s really cool. And that’s an octopus and it goes from completely camouflaged to an octopus. And it’s really crazy. But we worked on a protein found in squid, and it’s believed to be responsible for their unique camouflage properties. So we were doing fundamental
scientific research on that protein that’s called relectin. And yes that’s an octopus and not a squid. So to start off, I know
a lot of people here may or may not use skincare, or may or may not use makeup. So I wanna clarify skincare is not makeup. And it’s kind of a
battle we face when we go into the world of like, beauty in general, is a lot of people
think that we do makeup. We do not do makeup. Maybe eventually we will,
but we do not do makeup. So skincare is moisturizer,
facial serum, eye serum. It’s not anything with pigments. So what you think of as
makeup is like foundation, mascara, the list kinda
goes on and on, blush. But we do preventative
and my whole philosophy and our saying at HiQ is that skincare is the best foundation. So our products were
formulated by Holly and I. Holly and me. And we hand-selected
every single ingredient found in our facial serum. There’s nothing gimmicky,
there’s no filler ingredients. And to tell you a little
bit more about why we launched HiQ Cosmetics is there’s
so many products out there that are in a brown
bottle or a green bottle, and they have plants and leafs on it, and Holly and I tried all the products. We’ve used ’em all and they’re
oily, they’re horrible. You literally have to like put force in to putting them on your face. And the results are just subpar. And so what we wanted to
do is create a product that had luxury performance but deliver, had luxury performance and results, but used all natural products. So we truly believe that
nature’s the best chemist. Both of us are chemists. Holly has her PhD from Emory
University in chemistry, and it focuses on elastin
and collagen peptides. And me at the CDC with a chemistry degree, we kind of paired
together and like I said, we hand-selected every single ingredient. Was selected by us. So this is a phenomenal photo
of me looking very intrigued. And this is actually in a kitchen where we were mixing up
different ingredients to. So you start, with skincare,
you are basically in a kitchen with a mixer and you
are mixing this stuff, and you come up with formulas. And then once you kinda
have a formula you like, you send it off to a contract manufacturer who then scales up everything. So our contract manufacturer is actually in Riverside, California, and it uses entirely solar power. And it’s a really cool facility. And that’s something that Holly and I felt really strong about is in order to be confident
about selling something, you have to be confident
about what you are selling. And so every single detail of our company is something that both of us stand by. And I can look every single
one of you in the eye and say it is the best
product on the market. And so that’s a really big
lesson that I would say if you’re selling anything, and it doesn’t have to
be anything tangible, it just needs to be
something that you can sell and you can feel confident about selling. Because if you’re selling
something that you think is a crappy product or is horrible, chances are you’re not
gonna have the passion and love for it to
really give it your all. And that’s something that
Holly and I can stand here with is we put over two years
of scientific research into creating our product. And because of that, we
know it’s the best stuff on the market, period. So we started our company
and it launched officially in 2013, but our products went
on the market in late 2015. And it all started with one product, which is our HiQ Facial Serum. So a serum is a lightweight
moisturizer that’s very rich in nutrients and vitamins,
and is believed to penetrate further into the skin. And so we decided to launch
with our HiQ Facial Serum because we felt like it was
a product that was really truly going to be different on the market. Our HiQ Facial Serum is
the world’s most potent CoQ10 facial serum out there, period. So it’s a really unique product. CoQ10 is actually found in
every single cell of the body and it’s responsible for
bringing energy into the cells and so it is a all natural ingredient that delivers incredible results. And so this is our bottle. Our bottle is manufactured in Europe, and then our pump top
is from Milan, Italy. And all of our products
are paraben-free, non-GMO, we use organic ingredients where we can, our products are vegan, we
used recyclable ingredients, all of our marketing materials are printed with soy-based inks, our
carton is FSC certified, which is Forestry Stewardship Council, which is made from recycled tree pulp. And we are gluten free,
and then that symbol on the far right is the
symbol for Leaping Bunny, and Leaping Bunny is for, for products that are
not tested on animals. So that’s something that we
also felt very passionate about, just making sure that we
left an impact and a legacy in an industry that honestly
needs to be updated. So majority of products
in the skincare industry contain carcinogens and
contain a lot of products that are horrible for the environment. And honestly, it’s just an
industry that needs to be updated and Holly and I felt like
we could be the people that innovate and bring something
new into an industry. So while I was at the CDC,
I would actually receive, it was five or six emails a week, and in every single one of those emails was an ingredient that was
horrible for your health, horrible for your body,
horrible for the environment. Those little microbeads
that are found in a lot of body wash products, they
actually have accumulated in Michigan, Lake Michigan,
up in near Michigan, and Lake Erie, and it’s
become a huge problem. And I believe New York has made it illegal to put them in products. And that’s just one example. There’s other ingredients that are directly linked to cancer. BPA, which is found in a
lot of plastic products, is also really horrible. It accumulates in your body
and actually affects fertility. So that’s just a couple of examples and, to kind of back up a little bit, is Holly and I just
wanted to have a product that was good for you. Which everyone’s like, why
is your product different? And it’s because it’s good for
you, and it delivers results. So, our first photo shoot was actually at the University of North Georgia’s campus. And Paul Dunlap, who’s
a good friend of mine, actually took the photos,
and our model, Julia Bork, is actually attended the
University of North Georgia and is also a really good friend of mine. And here are some photos. These are the ones that Paul took. Julia has gone on to be a signed model, and I think she’s signed
with three or four modeling agencies and this
was her first modeling gig. But I put this slide up mostly
because I think in business a lot of people make it
all about themselves. And a lot of business owners choose to, where am I gonna be that’s
gonna be better for me? What’s better for me? And so I think that Holly and
I have felt really strongly about is our business is
built through everyone else. We’re not the best people
out there at everything. There’s no way you can be. And so we reach out to
people that are better that could make us stronger
and I think that’s so important because so many people out there make it all about themselves. And really businesses are
built with your connections that you make with other people. And that’s why we decided to go with Paul, and that’s why we decided to go to Julia. We could hire a model that’s
signed and is incredibly famous and yes it’d be famous, yes, it be really expensive, but that’s something that we could do, but we felt strongly about
helping those that had a dream and helping their dreams come true while they help our dreams come true. And that’s so important. So our first really big break
in launch of the company happened at Natural
Products Expo East and West. They are the world’s
largest natural products and organic products
expo in the entire world. It is seriously the coolest conference. You’ll go and I love Whole Foods. Whole Foods is like my happy place. I love seeing their produce section and everything’s like a
perfect pyramid, I love that. But the reason I mention that is because Whole Foods buys all of
their products from there. Everything you see in
that, in Whole Foods, comes from basically Natural
Products Expo East and West. And it is just row after
row after row of vendors, and food, natural beauty,
home, vitamins, supplements, and the list just kinda
keeps going and going. It is equivalent to probably
the Hartsfield Jackson Airport filled with vendors. It’s that big and that’s how
many people are actually there. And some little quick facts
is there’s over one million square feet of vendors. And … To put that in perspective,
the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, I don’t know if any of you have
had the chance to go there, but it is two million square feet. So if you take half of that square feet, that’s how many vendors are there. It’s huge. And there’s over 80,000
industry attendees, and over 120 countries represented. And so we went to Natural
Products Expo East in 2015, and we actually walked
away as the winner of Best New Beauty Product and
we were Editor’s Choice. And so this gave us a lot of publicity. We had a lot of videos come
out and we had a lot of industry leaders start writing about us and it really kinda ramped things up. We were able to get several
vendors from this conference. And then as we went to
the opposite conference, Expo West, that’s where
things really kind of, the ball started rolling. And so I wanna show this to you. We’re really results
driven and something that Holly and I felt very uncomfortable about is before and after photos. And we had like long, long talks about before and after photos. We’ve all seen Rodan + Fields, and we’ve seen the before, which is like an 80-year-old person, and then the after it’s like 16 years old. And I hate to tell you
this, but that’s impossible. It doesn’t happen. Your skin does not work like that. And I’m sure there’s people
that have phenomenal results and Rodan + Fields is
perfect for a lot of people. But Holly and I felt so
uncomfortable about using before and after pictures because we thought they were so gimmicky, and honestly I just think
they’re kinda stupid because you can photo alter
them, you can Photoshop them, and I can have a before and after that looks completely different. But a lot of our vendors
that we work with, The Four Seasons hotels, the Fig & Flower, that’s just down in the
Highlands as well as several other high-end boutiques
and spas that we work with constantly kept asking us
for before and after photos. And so I put this slide up here because sometimes you don’t wanna do things that you think that you should do, but you can do them the right way. And I don’t know if that sounds right, but we did this in a way
that felt comfortable to us because we were working with
vendors that requested this because it helps them sell product. But we also put the disclaimer below it that there’s no photo altering
or Photoshop in this photo. And so the lighting here is
not maybe the best to see the before and after, but if you go on our social media pages or website,
it really is a big difference and this is after two
weeks of using our product, so pretty cool. And then I wanted to show
you some more products, pictures of our products. Currently, on the market,
we have two products. We have our HiQ Facial
Serum, which I told you about a little bit earlier. And then actually, I think it
was on the first of September, we launched our HiQ Eye Serum. So that is specifically
meant to target the under eye region of the eyes. It’s great for anti-aging,
it’s great for firming. It really is great stuff. And so here’s some other lifestyle photos. And other things about the company is we were featured in Modern
Luxury’s The Atlantan, and this is Holly and I
pretending to be models in Modern Luxury’s The Atlantan. And this is the actual
published article that came out, and I don’t know how they
made us look so good, but it turned out really well. So that’s some cool press that we got. And then these are some
more social media photos that we have. And this is another piece
of publicity that we got in the Atlanta magazine. Our HiQ Facial Serum is
at a higher price point. It’s at $125, and this
whole article is about why it’s worth the $125 investment. And this actually gave
us a ton of business and a ton of orders
because it helps to have a, this article is just written
in a very realistic way that I think is really
helpful to customers to justify spending $125. And then I have these slides that show we’re in California in the Malibu Times as well as in Modern Luxury’s
Jezebel here in Atlanta. And I mentioned this earlier,
our Eye Serum launched on the first of September. And I guess this another
moment to teach you something, or advice that I have
that I could pass on is when we were launching our
Eye Serum, we did preorders. And our preorders started
in August, August first, and we promised to have everything shipped by the end of August and to our customers. And unfortunately, due to Hurricane Irma, or Hurricane Harvey, our shipment
from California to Atlanta was delayed and it did not arrive until the first of September. And so something that we are so, so, so, we feel so strongly about is that you should be really
transparent with your customers, with the vendors that you work with, and honesty is really the key
to everything in business. And we sent out an email
explaining the whole situation and we were like, if you
wanna return the order that you preordered,
we totally understand, we couldn’t meet it. But unfortunately, it’s
due to circumstances that we can’t control. And we had like five or six customers come and write us emails that were like, “This is so impressive. “And we would love to order more.” And so I tell you that
because in business, honesty is the key to everything. And if you can just be transparent,
it makes everyone happy. And so here is also a before
and after of our Eye Serum, and I put that up. It also has a disclaimer,
but I put this one up because I thought it looked better. Currently, Holly and I have
more products formulated. We actually have five plus
products that are waiting to go on the market. And our next product wilL
be our HiQ Moisturizer and hopefully that’ll be
out by the end of the year. And so the next part
that I wanted to go into is my advice for all of
you of what I’ve learned. And I wanna start out with
thinking, like my advice is not, is not the, I’m not the most
successful person out there by any means and I’m very
humbled to be in front of you even speaking today. And my advice is just what I’ve learned. And that you can take it
how you wanna take it. But the first thing I’ll
say is haters gonna hate. And I tried to make
these really entertaining because I know that it’s super early, so there’s a lot of GIF,
GIF, however you say it. There’s a lot of those in
here and I tried to make it a little bit more entertaining so all of you don’t fall asleep. But haters gonna hate. And the reason that I say that is because I cannot tell you how
many people out there have told Holly and I
that we are way too young to start a business. “You will never make it
in the skincare industry.” “You will never ever ever
create a successful product.” “No one will ever like your product.” “No one will ever publish about you.” “No one will ever even
order your product.” Well I’m here today to tell
you and to tell all the haters that all of that has happened. And we’ve created a really great brand. We have a very loyal cult following. And that’s some advice I
just have is just keep going. And you’ll be told no, no,
no, no, no so many times, and you just gotta keep
going and persevere. And I know that’s like a
funny thing of I guess, that’s a llama. But that’s kinda how my attitude
towards those people are. And that brings me to the same
point which kinda goes on it is no, no, no, no, no,
no, no, no, no, yes. And so in a nutshell, we have
been told so many times no. So many vendors and so many
people that we work with in business are like no,
no, no, no, no, no, no. And I send email after email after email and it’s no, no, no, no, no. And eventually, you’ll get a yes. And you have to keep going and persevere and you can’t be annoying. And I know that this is maybe
advice that you’ve heard throughout life, but really, it is the story of business is no. And I can’t tell you how many
times I have been told no. The first time we’ve
gone after every account that I can tell you
that we had, it was no. I’ve had people that I’ve
called up and they’re like, “No we’re not interested.” And then I take the time, I put
together marketing materials and I’d actually personally
drive to the place and I deliver the product and I’m like, I know you said no, but
I want you to say yes. So here’s this stuff, I
just want you to try it. And then they’ll call
back and they’re like, “I know I told you no, but
I really like your stuff. “And I actually wanna have you here.” And so that’s really
some incredible advice is just, even though you hear no, no is really just the new yes, and eventually they’ll say yes. And also, the other thing is, is oftentimes it’s just timing. And obviously certain
industries are different, but in the beauty
industry, major retailers, they buy maybe one or two times a year. And so they’re just telling
you no because they’re not shopping for those products. Or if you’re in the grocery industry, they’re not shopping
to bring on a new soap, or they’re not shopping to
bring on a new tortilla chip. And so really it’s just find
the right time for your product and reaching out to people to
really find out what that is. And so this is kinda the same thing. You’re gonna hear no more
than you’ll hear yes. Perseverance is key, be
consistent, but don’t be annoying. So being a business owner,
the other side that you do see is you see a lot of people
that want your business. So we have several people
that email us continually about promotional items, about really anything under the sun. And so you get to see the opposite side of people pitching stuff to your business so that you use their services. And I say this do not be
annoying because so many people send you like five or six emails a day. And it is annoying. And as a business owner or someone else, you don’t have time to
read five different emails and respond to them. So perseverance and
consistency really is key, but there’s a fine line
between being annoying and then being like consistent. And so, that is just some other advice. And if you own a company called Smart and you have emailed me a thousand times, I’m looking at you. That’s a real email address
that I’ve had a thousand times. And it’s been horrible. But again, this is going
back, the other point I made a little bit earlier. It’s not about the money that you make, it’s about the people that you help. And again, so many other
entrepreneurs that I’ve met have made their entrepreneurship
all about themselves. It’s about the car that they drive, it’s about the house that they live in, it’s about the items that they have. And I think the more I’ve
gotten into entrepreneurship, the more I realize that tangible items can disappear in a heartbeat. But it’s the relationships that you have, and the people that you are able to help, that really are worth, what’s
gonna bring you forward. And so a lot of people
think that owning a business is super luxury and super glamorous, and there are definitely
times where I’m like, wow that was really cool. But there’s also majority
of the time where it’s not like that and I’m behind
a computer the whole time. So I think that it’s really
important to remember why you do it and the
reason is to help people. So in the industry that we’re in is, it can be very superficial. It’s a ton of people that
are constantly thinking that they’re ugly and they just
think they’re horrible, or they wear like a pound
of makeup every single day. And that’s okay if that’s for you, but Holly and I’s thing
is that we want people to feel comfortable and we
want people to feel confident. And so by being able to help people, people that are so embarrassed
they don’t leave the house or people that are so embarrassed to, they have to feel like they
have a ton of makeup on to feel confident. And so that’s something that
Holly and I’ve been able to help these people with is
having them have clear skin and seeing that they
can be super confident. And you may be the type of
person that’s sitting here like, I don’t care what my face
is, I’ll be confident. But you should know that there’s
a ton of people out there that are so super self-conscious
about how they look, and so by making people confident, it’s the sexiest that you can be. And so that’s something
that’s really powerful is when you get these
emails from customers that tell you that you’ve really like
turned their life around and you’ve given them a
whole bunch of confidence. So I think that’s really important, and if I have like one lesson
for this whole thing it’s if you start a business, don’t forget the others that help you, and don’t be afraid to
reach out and help others. I think in life, you are only
as good as the relationships that you have and I think
that if you can build those and make those stronger and
also help build new ones, it’s gonna make you a stronger person. So that’s one of my favorite
quotes, Albert Einstein. He’s a good guy. So my other one is bring your own fun. And my grandfather, actually
this is like his biggest thing. And before he passed away, like this was, he lived this his entire life. No matter where you go, no
matter what business meeting, no matter what event you’re doing, no matter what trade show,
I genuinely believe that you should always go through
life bringing your own fun. I told you I’d try to make
this a little bit entertaining. And this guy was on ESPN
and if you haven’t seen it, he’s like my spirit animal. Anyway, but always have fun. And if you take life too seriously, your life is going to suck. You need to have a little bit of fun, and you need to like, be yourself, and kinda get outta your
comfort zone a little bit because really, that’s
really where life begins. And be sure to have fun. If you’re going into a business meeting and you’re dreading it,
find a way to make it fun, find a way to break
things up, take a break, bring your own fun. And then my fifth point
is 99% of the time, owning and running a
business is not glamorous. And really it’s like 100% of the time. And I think a lot of
people, especially with like social media and stuff, you post photos, and it looks super glamorous
and like that photo looks super expensive
and et cetera, et cetera. But owning a business
is not as glamorous as I think social media makes it look. Most of the time I’m behind my computer or on my cellphone and it’s
like all day, every day, I’m sending emails and I’m calling people. Or I’m making sales calls
or it’s at the airport and the airport can look really glamorous because you can be on a plane and you can pretend like
you’re jet setting off somewhere really great, but really you’re just
going to another room with florlescent lighting and
that’s what you’re getting. So just remember that not
everything is as glamorous, and also the reality is is chances are is you’re on a budget. And you have to always be
conscious of what money you have and how you’re spending
it because chances are you’re re-investing it
back into your company. And I also have to say that unfortunately, I do not lay on the beach
everyday drinking cocktails. And really, I wish that I was
but I don’t do that everyday. And this is kind of the same thing. Running a business is a 24 hour job. I had several people
email me on Christmas day that were customers. You have people every
single day calling you, texting you, customers, and
you have to get back to them. There are no weekends,
there are no holidays. But it’s also really important to create like a work-life
balance and I feel like you can let it consume
you every single day, all day, every day, but you
need to kinda separate it and make time and all that. And the other point is chances are that you’re making way
less than your friends, colleagues, and et
cetera at the beginning. And I think that’s really
important to kinda take the time to realize is you don’t
immediately start making several million dollars
when you start a business. And so you’ll see a ton of
your like friends, colleagues, that are the same age of you, that you’re going to
school with and they’re started a really great job and they bought like a brand new Mercedes, or they brought a brand new x, y, z or they brought a house
and that’s really great, and that’s what you want. And you just can’t let
that bring you down. And you just gotta keep going. Okay, and so this is one that Holly and I feel so strongly about is in business, when you’re working with people, you will literally be promised the world, and not the word, that’s a typo. That’s embarrassing. Anyway, you will be promised the world. These people will tell
you stuff all the time. You will literally be told constantly, “Oh we’ll do this, we’ll give you this, “and you’ll get this article
in the New York Times, “in the Wall Street Journal, “and you’ll have this huge article.” And really, well first
off, I’ll take a break. You guys can come sit down. You’re totally fine. Back to what I was saying though is these people will promise you the world, and unfortunately, in the business world, people aren’t as transparent
or ethical as they should be. And so you’ll be working
with a ton of people and they will literally
promise you the world. They’ll tell you that you
will have millions of dollars worth of sales, and my advice
is, just do your research, ask question, and the new
thing that Holly and I do is we don’t give anyone
business until they prove that they can help us. ‘Cause people will be like, it’s $20,000 and we’ll get you x, y, z. And the reality is that
they don’t get you x, y, z, they just want your $20,000
and they’ll be like, well we tried. And unfortunately, that’s
not really how it works. So one of my biggest things is you should always
under-promise and over-deliver. So back on that same point
you’ll have people coming to you and they’ll tell you, then
they’ll promise the world. But you also have to kinda
take the time to realize on the other end, when you
are working with a vendor, a retailer, or a client,
and you promise something, you always have to deliver. And so one of my biggest
mottos and I’m sure it’s been published in a zillion books is under-promise, over-deliver. So if you promise someone
something, you need to exceed it and then some. And simple and you’ve
probably heard it before, but really it’s the way of business. And if you work with a vendor
and you promise something and you can’t meet it,
they’re gonna remember that, but if you promise
something and under-promise, and then you way, way,
way go above and beyond, they’ll remember that forever. And then ask question, lots of them. Again, this may seem kind of obvious and it may be something
that you may understand as running a business you have
to ask a lot of questions, but really ask questions. There is no dumb question. And some people may know what
you think you already know, but you need to ask the
questions and ask them and ask them and ask them. And if you talk to someone
else, ask the same questions. Make sure that you’re getting
the answers that you want. And that’s in any relationship, whether it’s with the vendor, whether it’s with a wholesaler, or whoever you’re working with. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you think that
it’s a stupid question, they’re gonna judge you
for it, ask the question. For instance, HiQ Cosmetics
works with Costco.com, which is probably one of
our biggest wholesalers and they’re an incredible company. They’re a phenomenal company. You send them an email and they will send you an
email back immediately. And when we signed up with Costco, it’s a huge vendor and there’s a lot of technicalities that they have
that are specific with Costco. And we asked a ton of questions. And some of them, I’m pretty
sure that they thought, wow I can’t believe they don’t know that or wow, that’s that, but oftentimes when you ask the question, it triggers another set of dialogue that ends up being mutually
beneficial to everyone. And so you’ll get your answer,
and then they’ll be like, “Oh I never thought about that. “We can actually do this “which is gonna help with your sales.” And so, don’t be afraid to ask a question. And don’t be afraid to ask for something. And sometimes, you have to
ask, hey can you include us on a free email? Or hey, do you mind putting us in your newsletter next month? Chances are they’re gonna
say yes because no one asks, and when you ask, you get
the answer immediately. And this is also something
that’s important too is get to know your vendors, get to know the people
that you’re working with. The guy that works with our glass bottles and the pump tops, like I call him, and I talk on the phone with
him for about 30 minutes and it has nothing to do with work. And I think that’s really important because when you establish a relationship that’s deeper than business, they’re willing to help you further. And it’s more than just, hey I
need to order 10,000 bottles, I need to order 10,000 pump
tops, send me the invoice, we’re good, I’ll pay for it, move on. But if something goes wrong, who are they more likely to help? The person that’s taking
the time to get to know them or the person that is ordering
the same amount of quantity but has always just said I’ll order it? I think that’s really good advice. Don’t just be a name in an email. Get to know the people, they’re human too. And I think that’s really important. Also, social media. I think everyone kind of always talks about social media
and how it’s very important and people consume their life with it and make it exactly
what they need it to be. And at the beginning of our business, I would say that we spent a
lot of time on social media. Because it’s your image to the world and it is very important. And when I say social media’s important but it’s not everything, that’s basically exactly what I mean. It is very important. You need to have a clean
social media record. And also your personal
Instagram needs to be clean. And I know a lot of you may have gone out on Friday and Saturday night, and had like a really great weekend, but your vendors and retailers and people that you wanna do business with do look at your personal social media page and they look at your business page. So recently I was on the phone
with a beauty editor for, she worked for Allure and
then worked for Cosmopolitan and has moved on and worked at Vogue. And she was saying that social media is usually when you send a product to, when you send a product to
like a major publication, they’re gonna look at
your social media page. It’s gonna be the first
thing they look at. And if they like your social media page, they’ll never look at it again. And then they’ll try the product. And so it is really important
to have a really strong social media presence,
but it’s not everything. And I think you can do
really great on social media and a lotta companies do really well with Instagram marketing,
Facebook marketing, there’s marketing for everything. But I think a lotta people
get caught up on it. And this is our Instagram page. And I think on my next page, I will let you know that you
guys should all follow us. It’s @HiQCosmetics, we’re
on Instagram and Twitter. And this is what our social
media page looks like. And then my next point is
the importance of creativity. And this is something that
I feel so passionate about. I’m a huge advocate of the arts. I go to every single play,
theater, ballet, opera. I’m a big believer in it. And I come from a chemistry background. And so many people in
chemistry or in other majors knock other majors and they’re like, oh, like I’d die to be this
major, I’d die to do this major. And the reality is, all of
them are equally important. And I know I’ve heard a thousand times, oh I wish I was an art
major, I just have to paint. And I think that people
kind of just look at it as the arts are just something
that people do for fun. But in the industry that
I’m in, art is everything, creativity is everything, and in business, creativity and innovation is everything. In the skincare industry, there
are thousands upon thousands of companies and you’re competing with every single one of ’em to get in the next retailer, in the next vendor, in the next wholesaler. And so you have to be creative, you have to think outside the box, you have to be innovative. There’s a zillion social
media pages out there too, and you have to think outside the box of how you’re going to be different than all the other people out there. And so I really wanna just
stress this to everyone. Creativity is everything,
and it is so important in the business world. I guess I will kinda wrap up from there, but the last thing I wanna say is I’m a huge believe in transparency, and I’m really big on being
a very transparent company in every single aspect, and Holly is too. And so I wanted to take the time, if you ever have any questions
or if I can be of any help, this is my personal email
address for my company, and seriously email me. It’s [email protected], and I’m more than happy to help you or answer any questions or be of any help. And I know that I was
supposed to allow time. I have no how long I’ve been up here, but does anyone have any questions? Yes. – When you talk about transparency, are you talking about transparency to everyone in the company and all your, all the other places you’ve touched? – So, his question if you couldn’t hear it was about transparency within the company or anyone that I can touch. And when I say transparency, I mean transparency with everyone. I think within the company, you
need to be very transparent. I think like Holly and I,
we’re always on the phone. We talk about everything,
even from minute to big. I think it’s really important
to make sure everyone is on the same page, and I think
that is so important. But also I think it is very
important to be transparent with your customer
base, with your vendors, and I think just the more
honest and transparent you are, and you kinda lay everything out there, the better you are as a
company in the long run. You’re not hiding anything,
and there’s nothing out there that people find out later
that’ll change their opinion about the company. And so that’s really what
I mean by transparency. Yes. – [Man] How did you fund your company? From start up. (speaking quietly) – So the company is founded, is funded. We don’t have any investors,
it’s all Holly and I. And funding moving forward,
it’s all from the profits that the company makes. And that’s how we
continue to move forward. Yes. – [Man] Finally I get a microphone. What one thing do you wish you had known when you started on the process, something that these
people who are considering becoming entrepreneurs. What was your biggest surprise? Or the thing that you
now look back on and say, yeah, I should’ve known that? – I think the one thing
that I wish I would’ve known would be I had a vision that
people were all very good. And I chose to live in
a world where I thought people were honest and genuine. And I know this is kind of a dark path to take, but it goes back to the people will promise you the world, and then not deliver. And unfortunately, we worked
with a marketing company that just didn’t do anything and wanted us to pay a ton. And that would probably
be my biggest regret and my biggest thing I would change is I would just be more, I’d be smarter with how I started things in the fact of establishing the relationship. But I think in any
business, you’ll be burned at some point in time unfortunately. It’s just the nature of business, but I’ve become very good at vetting people. That would probably. Holly and I are like,
king and queen of vetting. Other questions? Yeah. – Would you agree that having knowledge and understanding about, you know like, as far as getting, you say quote-unquote burned, if maybe you focused on gaining
knowledge in certain fields. And have you learned that about yourself like you have to get in
and learn certain things before you have conversations with vendors and so on and so forth? – For sure. So I think in business,
education is everything. I think really in life,
education is everything. And I think the more you
know going into anything will make you a better person. So I think the more you
take the time to research, to understand, and really
take the time to dive into a subject, it’s gonna make you better apt to make better decisions. So, I hope that answered your question? – [Man] Yeah, I was just trying to– – Yeah, I think that would
definitely be very helpful. Yes? – [Woman] What is the action trigger that made you think of
(mumbles) for a start up? – For sure, so Holly and I
were doing undergrad research at the time and Holly in graduate school worked on elastin and collagen peptides. And at the same time I was at the CDC. And really the idea
sparked when Holly was in graduate school, she was joking around with her advisor like, one day we’ll put this in skincare. And that’s kinda where the idea started. And then at the CDC, I
learned more about ingredients and what’s found in ingredients, and it was kinda like the
perfect storm, so to speak. Yes. – [Man] What is the biggest
challenge you’re facing today? – Biggest challenge we’re facing today. Oh, that’s a good question. Again, I think one of
the biggest challenges is is A, just making the
decision of where to go next, so to speak like. Oftentimes you have five
different doors to take, and it’s deciding which
one is gonna put you in the best place further on down the road and not immediately. And so oftentimes you have
opportunities come up where you would make a
considerable amount of money, but at the same time, it’s
gonna tarnish your company. And so, I think just the
biggest challenge is just navigating where to go next and, also just ramping up
sales is always important. Also, education is really kind of a hinder because there’s so many
products out there. I think it is an educational component that goes into our product
of why people need to to spend money, more money. Educating, but once people are
educated about the product, I think it moves, they understand. Oh, in the very back. – [Woman] I was just
wondering how many people work in your company? Like not suppliers or anything like that. Is it just you and the doctor? – Yeah, so we run an
incredibly tight ship. And it’s Holly and I, and
then we have someone that sends out our packages for us, so. And luckily, the way we set up our company is we don’t need a tremendous
amount of employees, so it’s kind of a benefit. Last question, I think? I think we have to go? – So how did you, of all the pitches you’ve pitched, how did you pick the high end market? How did you have your Four Seasons? – For sure. – [Man] Why would they use, you know, if you guys don’t have any background? Why would they think you
would be a good pick? – Sure, that’s a great question. The reason that we went
after the high end market is actually Ernst & Young
does a huge thing on luxury market. And in the luxury market,
the luxury market remains really consistent with the economy. Whereas the cheaper, more affordable ones fluctuate with the economy. So that’s one reason we
decided to go with luxury, but also just the nature of the product and the formulation
that we created is just more expensive to produce. And so the cost of manufacturing
also dictates which, which market we went into
and it was just a great fit for our product. Good? Awesome. Thank you guys! – Let’s uh, let’s give him a hand. (audience applauding) – Thank you so much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *