Meet Beautiac: The Dollar Shave Club of Makeup Brushes
By: Carli Evilsizer | August 1, 2019
Ever wondered what it would be like to raise a round of funding and launch a startup while pregnant? Drea Gunness Groeschel did just that. And impressively, thanks to her background in supply chain and product development, Drea was able to raise $750k in funding and bring her startup to life in just 9 months. (In fact, she was in labor only two days after the company began officially shipping Beautiac kits to their first customers!)
Drea is the founder of Beautiac, the first-ever interchangeable, sustainable makeup brush. Beautiac can most easily be compared to Dollar Shave club; Drea never had time to clean her makeup brushes and realized she could do the same thing with razors and razor blade refills but for makeup brushes and brush heads. Beautiac offers a starter-kit with their custom makeup brushes with a subscription providing customers with brand new brush heads each month to keep their skin fresh and clear.
Keep reading to learn how Drea was able to fund and launch her startup in just 9 months, the hardest part about launching her startup and her tips for fellow mompreneurs.
Drea Gunness Groeschel, Founder and CEO of Beautiac
Beautiac offers the first-ever interchangeable, sustainable makeup brush. Beautiac brushes have pop-on, pop-off heads that are fully replaceable and recyclable, and like the “Dollar Shave Club” of beauty, Beautiac sends subscribers new brush heads each month to keep their skin fresh and clear.
Drea Gunness Groeschel
Founder and CEO of Beautiac.
Drea Gunness Groeschel is the founder & CEO of Beautiac, an innovative makeup brush company based in Nashville, TN. Gunness Groeschel is passionate about consumer goods optimization, creative product development, and supply chain transparency, choosing partners who share her vision of cleanliness, transparency, sustainability and female empowerment.
1. What was the inspiration for Beautiac?
I was having small sporadic breakouts on my face that I couldn’t seem to tame. Once I found out that I should be cleaning my makeup brushes due to all the bacteria build up, and that the bacteria was potentially the cause of my breakouts, I went looking for the best cleaner and methods. However, when you clean your brushes with the sprays, wipes, soaps, you don’t know if they are actually clean. Sure, the makeup is gone, but what about the bacteria in the ferrule deep down in the brush hairs? Also, cleaning takes a lot of time and I’m a busy career-focused woman, so I found myself never actually cleaning my brushes! The ah-ha moment was when I thought about razors and razor blades refills. I wished my dirty brush heads would just pop off and I could pop on a new one…and Bingo! So I created just that!
2. What was your first several steps once you had the idea?
The first step once I had the idea was to poll a lot of women. Women of all ages in all walks of life. Everywhere I went I was asking women if they used brushes, if they cleaned their brushes and if they thought they would buy this type of product. The response was super positive. That’s what gave me the green light as an entrepreneur to take Beautiac from concept to start-up.
3. How did you come up with the name Beautiac?
Actually, I have to give my husband credit for this one. He was telling me how crazy us ladies are for all the money and time we spend on beauty products, kinda like beauty maniacs…so he combined them and said we were Beautiacs. I laughed and was like, yeah, that’s totally what we are!!
4. How did you bring the company from concept to consumer in just nine months?
People will often share these quick-start stories with successful businesses, that seem like somehow in under a year, they were able to start the business, design the product, find a manufacturer, have product made, set up fulfillment with a 3PL or warehouse, design and launch a website, hook all the systems together for seamless automation and then market to customers! What?!! Well, let the truth be told that it can be done, but you need to have the right resources and eat determination every morning for breakfast. My background is in product development and manufacturing supply chain implementation and management. Most product development takes about 12 to 18 months, so I knew under a year would be hyper ambitious, but I wanted the timing of our launch to be just right. So I mapped out a timeline that I thought I could hit with budget and other resources and got to work. I literally worked day and night to design the product look and concept and eventually hired an engineer to bring it to life in a 3D CAD drawing that allowed my manufacturer to make a mold for production. While the product molds were being made, I began working with a designer on our website and visiting fulfillment centers that could handle shipping out our products with care and attention to detail. Of course, the most important part of all this is when a Beautiac customer receives their first subscription box and it’s on time and looks great. That is the standard in today’s market and the expectation of the consumer. So we must meet it every time! I said we would deliver our first product to new Beautiacs in March… and we did just that! It was close, but we did it.
5. What was the hardest part about launching your startup?
The hardest part of launching Beautiac was finding the best vendors possible. Branding, marketing, bookkeeping, fulfillment, factories, etc. - all positions have to be great at what they do. It’s easy to get tied into a vendor and then weeks in you realize they are not the best fit and have to switch gears. Then you have to start all over again with a new vendor. It’s time consuming and can be frustrating, but eventually I found the right fit for the direction of the company and began working with vendors that believed in the vision of Beuatiac.
6. Congrats on your seed funding! How did you raise the $750K?
After exploring several options for my seed funding it was clear that I needed to take on an equity partner and I wanted to find the right partner to support and believe in the vision of the company. Someone that would stick around through the tough times, because launching a company is never easy and there are always several iterations that it will go through before becoming a huge success. The best investors help with guidance and mentorship, or have contacts that can help strategically. Not all money is the same. I wanted money that aligned with my business model and investors that enjoyed the product space. As a product-centric entrepreneur, choosing capital that has a track record in the product space and understands the need for quality product and design has always been at the forefront of raising money for Beautiac. I was fortunate to eventually align with a group that had an amazing track record, experience and an entrepreneurial spirit. Never settle for capital that isn’t the right fit. Find a good lead investor that has the same sunrise as you.
7. What’s one thing you wished you knew before raising a seed round?
Raising money is always hard. I will say that the one thing I did know, that I tend to forget every time, is just how much time it takes! It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time it will take to raise the money you need to launch or scale a company. It’s a hard road and you need to meet with a lot of people before you get the “yes” you are looking for.
“You have to have thick skin - really really thick skin - to raise money while pregnant.”
8. And you did this all while pregnant! #momboss What was it like launching a startup and raising a round while pregnant?
It’s super difficult. The word SUPER in all caps! There is a lot of judgement about working women who are pregnant or with young children. I had several investors listen to my pitch but stare at my large baby bump. I even had one potential investor who told me: “we’re interested but going to pass due to the state you’re in” while gesturing at my stomach. Interestingly enough, I often got the question “is this your first child?” Which yes, it is. But the questions was often followed by, “oh, so you don’t know how this is going to go once you have the baby or how you’re going to adjust?” As if somehow this challenge would be different than any other life-changing challenge… and I’ve been through a few! It is a different challenge, and is certainly not easy to have a newborn and operate a start-up, but I tackle it like I tackle anything else: with a plan, lots of organization and excitement to make it the best it can be. Women are great multi-taskers, so the addition to my family fits right into my mind-set. You have to have thick skin - really really thick skin - to raise money while pregnant.
9. Tell me more about Beautiac’s business model. Why did you decide on a subscription model?
I decided on a subscription model because it’s important that you have clean brushes monthly. Many dermatologists are even saying that brushes should be cleaned every 7-10 days. So I thought monthly clean brushes would ensure that at least every month you are starting with a truly clean brush. You can wash them in between if you’d like, but rest assured if you didn’t have time, your next clean brush refill isn’t far behind!
10. How were you able to create 100% recyclable brush heads?
We make our brushes with a single material. The brush ferrule and the brush hairs are actually made of the same synthetic material. So this allows the brush heads to be a unit that is recyclable. Currently most brush makers use synthetic brush hairs but they use metal ferrules, plastic or wood handles, and when they are all attached, this is a mixed material item and can’t be recycled in any way. So the purity of our material selection was a focus and then the ability to manufacture this in such a way to maintain quality took some of the best engineering minds around. I always say this makeup brush was engineered to fly to the moon!
11. Tell me more about the recycle program you implemented from Terracycle.
We are a participant in the Terracycle Zero Waste Box program. This program allows us to be more full circle with our brushes. We have our customers collect their dirty brush heads and seal them in a bag we provide. They then receive a prepaid shipping label from Beautiac and put the package in the mail. It arrives at the Beautiac corporate office, where we consolidate all dirty brush heads into bulk. We then ship them to Terracycle where they are chipped down and utilized to make community beautification items such as park benches, picnic tables and even planters. Pretty neat!
12. So far, what has been the feedback from consumers?
Our customers LOVE the product for two reasons: they are getting peace of mind that they are using clean brushes monthly and knowing their skin is healthier for it, and secondly, our brush quality is similar to a $60 brush. There is no skimping on quality for our service. Often customers tell us the brushes are nicer than what they were originally using. Another bit of feedback we’ve received from our customers is that they want a wider brush head selection and also an eye kit. I can tell you now that they’ll be getting exactly that as we’ll begin releasing new brush heads and an eye kit in 2020.
13. What has been the hardest part about being a mompreneur?
I suppose a mompreneur is one person but I feel like I need to be two! A Mom and an Entrepreneur. Although there is overlap in so many areas of my life, as a life of an entrepreneur tends to demand working nights and weekends, but being a Mom is a constant as well. So figuring out the balance is tricky and I want to make sure that I’m 100% present when I’m at the office and 100% present when I’m home with my little one, too. Each need me and each deserve my all. It takes a lot of energy and sometimes I’m not always sure I have it. But everyday I get up, show up with 100% commitment and do it again. So perhaps the lesson here is that we often have more to pull from within ourselves - more than we may think. Just when you think you’ve hit a wall and maybe can’t go further, you will, and you do.
14. And what has been your favorite part about launching Beautiac?
I so much enjoy showing people what is possible and being a role model for other women who want to start their own business. Nothing is better than blazing a trail and leaving a sign at the trailhead, “start here” - oftentimes that is the hardest step and I’m fortunate to be able to help others with the lessons I’ve learned. I’m still learning every day and so if I had a dollar for every time I learned something new, I figure by the time I’m 80 I would be a billionaire!
Also, it’s been amazing to experience the overwhelming response to solving a problem in people’s lives. It’s amazing when I hear stories from customers who really needed the product. We have customers that have disabilities and motor skill issues write us and tell us how this has been a life changing product. Perhaps they couldn’t clean their brushes well before because it was too difficult for them, now they can have clean brushes and have healthier skin. A step towards positive self-image and more confidence. It touches my heart.
15. Do you have any tips for any fellow mompreneurs?
Normalize the idea of being with your children while running your business. If you need to leave the office early to go to a soccer game or come in late because you need to go to a doctor appointment for your child, don’t feel guilty! It should be ok and that is the mix of life in 2019. It’s not like it used to be, before cell phones and email made us so reachable, so we need to stop judging each other for it and allow it to be the normal. The best way to do this is to surround yourself with people that are supportive and believe in you and not just what you’re doing, but how you’re doing it. At the end of the day, this is your life! Live it and make no apologies for having a family and doing it all.
15. What’s next for Beautiac?
Beautiac is constantly evolving as a company and we’re excited to be in a stage of growth. We want our brand name to be synonymous with clean, sustainable beauty by encouraging women to make small but impactful changes in how they manage skincare and healthy beauty practices. At Beautiac, we know that women spend so much money on beauty products but have little time to make sure they maximize product effectiveness with healthy skin that can absorb all the great ingredients found in our favorite serums, lotions, toners and cosmetics. As Beautiac’s product line expands, you’ll see several more products in the future that support this idea, because we know that women are too busy tackling the world’s challenges to spend tons of time thinking about skincare. Beautiac will become the mainstay brand to help keep your beauty routine quick, easy and clean. We’re beauty, simplified.
Thanks Drea for sharing how you launched Beautiac and some of your great #momboss tips!
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