How Brittany Gray, founder of Fancy Face Inc, bootstrapped her way to beauty industry success
Brittany Gray’s background in entertainment gave her an appreciation for high-quality makeup which she was able to turn into Fancy Face Inc, a multi service salon and cosmetics line. Brittany shares with us the importance of taking leaps of faith, how she was able to pivot to her own product line during COVID-19, and why you should hire to your weaknesses.
Describe your business in a few words?
Fancy Face changes the way you see beauty, by empowering womxn to see the transformative power of beauty. We provide luxury in-home, on-site, or in-studio hair and makeup services for women who want to feel exquisitely beautiful for any occasion. We care about the details when it matters most – and that’s why we’re Canada’s most prestigious beauty team.
Our namesake cosmetics line offers products to take your signature Fancy Face experience and make it a part of your daily beauty routine to feel fancy everyday.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I always had a passion for cosmetics and for the makeup industry as a whole. I always thought that acting, singing and dancing professionally would remain my sole focus, but I also couldn’t deny my calling to pursue makeup artistry and entrepreneurship. Growing up with an entrepreneurial father, I was consistently learning from him about how to grow a business and be a leader.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Prior to launching my business in 2006, I had already pursued a performing arts career from age 15-26 yrs. My first professional job was dancing and singing in the movie Chicago with Catherine Zeta Jones. Little did I know, the first project I worked on would win an Oscar! Beyond that, I continued to work in Disney films and in TV & theatre projects. I really fell in love with how great makeup and hair could inspire my best performance in a project.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
My path to entrepreneurship grew slowly over time. Growing up, I admired how my dad always was working toward personal and professional growth. I grew up reading his collection of books that really formed the business man he is today. As time went on, I started to discover a true passion for entrepreneurship and that I had a knack for it.
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?
My motto has always been to let the quality of the work speak for itself. When we first launched, we didn’t enlist in any traditional forms of marketing, for the first 8 years. Instead, we relied heavily on word of mouth – from women sharing their stories on how our services made women feel. I’m proud to say I’ve bootstrapped this entire business myself, which makes our organic marketing something I’m so incredibly thankful for. I really owe my growth to our supportive community and the talent of our incredible artists.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
I would say as a business owner, there’s constant ups and downs. So, this one’s a bit difficult to pinpoint, but if I could mention one thing in particular I would say:
We always hear about women championing and empowering other women. And while I’ve had many experiences of this, of which I am so thankful, I have also had experiences of women who have done the opposite. And as a female entrepreneur, when experiencing growth for the first time, that can be very saddening and disheartening. It’s hard to compartmentalize and know who to turn to when we really need support or someone to help us climb through difficult periods. I look at this now and recognize just how much it is our duty, as women to support and empower each other. I wholeheartedly believe there is room for all of us.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
After 15 years of growing this business to where it is now. I am most proud of the fact that I didn’t get any type of formal training in business, however I have utilized following my gut and intuition every step of the way. What I’ve learned is that there is no “one” way to drive your business, we’ve taken a unique path and it has been incredibly advantageous. If you don’t always know what can go wrong, then you take leaps of faith blindly, and that has served me well. I am also proud to have bootstrapped this business every step of the way with no external funding. That isn’t always easy, but I’m proud to be the sole owner of my business.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I definitely think you should always focus on hiring your weaknesses. I’ve found our best hires to be those that have followed and supported the brand for sometime before applying to work with us. I usually ask where they see themselves in 3-5 years. This question almost always indicates whether they will be someone who is a team player and wants to grow with you or if their ideal scenario would be to utilize you as a stepping stone.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
We have two sides of our business: the service side & the product side. Our service side facilitates thousands of special events each year. That area of our business came to a complete halt once COVID hit. Thankfully, a few months prior to the pandemic we launched our namesake cosmetics line. Our consumers and supporters, after 15 years were very much ready for us to launch products, so our e-commerce site quite literally helped us stay above water and thankfully, we grew exponentially this past year as well.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
I see us continuing to sink our teeth into growing the cosmetics line of the business. When I think back to why I started Fancy Face, it was due to my love for everything about cosmetics – from packaging, formulas, components and all. This feels very full circle for me.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
It has truly affirmed the importance of being resilient.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
To not be concerned about slow and steady growth. If it wasn’t for this, I likely wouldn’t have built the company I have now. There is no such thing as an overnight success.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
How could anyone not be grounded this year? Humbling experience to say the least.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
No. I personally don’t always strive for complete balance in my life. I am a wife and a mother of two children under 4 so, as you can imagine with also running a full-time business, I am pulled in many directions. I strive for happiness and the happiness of those I love and care about. Balance, maybe we will meet one day.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I am terrible at watching movies. I have a really short attention span and usually just fall asleep if I actually have the time to sit down and watch something. Also, I am a terrible cook and I can’t catch a ball to save my life. There’s 3 things for you.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
To-Do Lists are everything to me. For me, I have my lists in my phone and write them constantly. When you become quite busy, I do think having a great assistant to keep you on track is a real bonus. Also, pre-plan your days when you can – and accomplish the most important things first, no matter how time consuming.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It means inspiring generations to come to follow their dreams and not be afraid to take the path less travelled.