Ashley Piszek of MISS SWISS on generating quick growth and expansion in the startup phase
Describe your business in a few words:
In less than a year, MISS SWISS has been picked up by major retailers including Urban Outfitters, Verishop, Amazon, and boutiques around the US. Our MISS SWISS 2-in-1 Brush Holder & Drying Rack was awarded a Her Campus Beauty Award in October 2021, and our products have been featured in Star Magazine, Drift Travel, E! News Daily Pop, Her Campus, Style Caster, NBC News and Marie Claire.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Entrepreneurial spirit runs in my family but I decided to launch my company, MISS SWISS because my concept for my Glamour on the Go makeup case literally fell into my lap. I was at a concert and had a “purse catastrophe.” The friction between my eyeliner lid and the other contents of my purse caused the lid of the eyeliner to come off which not only ruined the eyeliner but also destroyed my purse. The purse was a gift from my boyfriend, now husband, who saved up to get me this beautiful purse. When I reluctantly told him what happened, he told me he couldn’t afford to replace the bag and that I needed to make sure this didn’t happen again.
When I told my friends and family what happened they said that they had similar problems with other makeup products that have pop on lids like lipstick and that this spillage also occurred in their makeup cases as well. That is when I researched other makeup cases and found they were too bulky and heavy to carry in a purse or did not allow for proper spacing to prevent spillage, they only contained the spills. After I conducted focus groups on issues makeup wearers have, I noticed that there were multiple problems makeup wearers were frustrated about. It was at that point I knew I would be able to differentiate my product offerings from the major players in the beauty industry by not just creating great quality products, but making sure the products I launch have a purpose and solve a problem.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I launched MISS SWISS right after I graduated college in 2019. While in college, I ran social media accounts for a luxury home real estate agent. As an accounting and marketing dual major, I took as many business courses as possible so when I entered the workforce, I would be multifaceted and have at least a basic understanding of all aspects of business.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Personally, I didn’t think I would always be an entrepreneur, but my family always did. I was the child with the lemonade stand at 5, crafting and selling doll furniture at 8, and hand sewing fabric bags and purses in my teens. I always loved selling products but it wasn’t until I was in High School when I studied abroad and took my first business management class that I wanted to become an entrepreneur.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
Launching a new business is challenging, launching a new business during a pandemic was even more so. Before launching MISS SWISS, I conducted market research, held focus groups, created and designed my Glamour on the Go Cases over a year before the first mention of the pandemic. Our marketing strategy was all about selling a “Glamour on the Go ” lifestyle but with the pandemic limiting travel, everyone wearing masks, and quarantining, I had to shift the focus of MISS SWISS so it would still be relevant and useful during this very uncertain time.
We decided to shift our focus to not only “Glamour on the Go” but also glamour at home. We launched our MISS SWISS 2-in-1 Brush Holder & Drying Rack a month after we launched our glam on the go Makeup Cases. The Brush Holder was not only perfect for traveling with your makeup brushes, but it had uses where it would be helpful at home too. The multifunctional benefits of the brush holder made it the perfect tool to prevent makeup brushes from getting ruined by dust and germs, made drying your makeup brushes easier, and was the perfect vanity decoration that could also be personalized with a name, initial, monogram, or social media handle. Shifting our focus during the pandemic allowed MISS SWISS to continue to grow and solve problems for makeup wearers even when people couldn’t be traveling.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
The accomplishment I am most proud of has to be having my first Invention, the Glamour on the Go Makeup Case, being sold in Urban Outfitters. It was such a surreal feeling to have a product I spent a year+ bringing to life and patenting being sold by a major retailer.
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
I recently was accepted into the Entrepreneur Magazine Leadership Network. I have been extremely fortunate to have a few mentors who have helped me get to where I am today. It is an amazing feeling that now I can do the same by publishing some of my business tips and tricks to a platform of over three million entrepreneurs.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
I am incredibly grateful that MISS SWISS has grown so quickly, this growth has really allowed me to start expanding MISS SWISS into makeup, skincare, and other travel accessories. We are working on creating vegan formulations for both makeup and skincare products we want to launch. We are also in the process of launching our own IOS app.
What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
I am excited about being an Entreprenista League member because it will give me the opportunity to learn and connect with successful, inspirational and supportive professional women. I launched MISS SWISS in the middle of the pandemic, so my networking opportunities have been limited. I love meeting other women entrepreneurs, networking, and interacting with women I can learn with and grow.