In Conversation with Jaz Fenton of Yellow Beauty
Describe your business in a few words?
Yellow Beauty is a cruelty free skincare collection rooted around turmeric.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
It all started when my husband Jamil and I made a face scrub to help soothe my breakouts. He suggested using turmeric, an ingredient I didn’t know you could use on your skin. It worked so well that our first instinct was to share it. The idea of building something from the ground up made us really excited! From art, to music, to writing, I’ve always been drawn to creating. Starting a business is really quite similar: creating something from nothing. Exciting, yet scary at the same time.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
After majoring in English Lit, I enrolled in an accelerated program covering everything from graphic design to web development. When I co-founded Yellow Beauty, I was working for Shopify as Product Designer.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No! I don’t think I fully understood what it meant to be an entrepreneur until my mid-20s. Working at Shopify really opened my eyes to the world of entrepreneurship. The barrier to entry is lower than ever—sign up for an online store, pay $30/month, and you sell your products around the world. That concept fascinated me and definitely influenced the path I’m on today.
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?
We bootstrapped our launch with $1,000 and a credit card, so we heavily relied on organic reach through social media. Back in 2015, not only were there no other skincare brands highlighting turmeric on Instagram, but influencers were a relatively new thing. We focused on gifting free product in exchange for a photo so we could build our social proof. I think our product’s bright yellow colour really stood out in people’s feeds. We actually landed our first large wholesale account and press feature through Instagram!
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?
We changed our look a couple of times throughout the past 5 years. I believe that constant iteration is the only way a business can thrive. That said, I underestimated how hard it is to balance all work that comes with a rebrand along with day-to-day operations—especially with a super small team. I learned that less is more. Sometimes it’s better to make changes in smaller chunks over a longer period of time so that your business can still run smoothly and continue to grow during the transition.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Our first wholesale order with Anthropologie. It took so much learning on the fly (shipping logistics can be so stressful!) but we pulled it off. I’ll never forget seeing our product on their shelves during the holiday season 🙂
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
“What motivates you every day?”
It’s so important to hire people who act like owners, especially in a startup. They’ll be wearing multiple hats, so it’s key to understand their ambitions and what drives them to be better.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
I think the pandemic has made us re-evaluate what’s important on many levels — the concept of beauty being one of them. Overconsumption in the beauty industry is a huge problem. As hard as this time has been, I’m hoping it’s given us a chance to slow down, evaluate the products we use on a daily basis, and be more intentional with our purchases.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
A lot is happening! We’re working on a few new products that I can’t wait to share with everyone. Over the next few years, I’m excited to continue to build out our team and grow our retail presence IRL.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Continue to educate yourself — and always speak up.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are many others who have gone down this road before you. Even the smallest takeaway can make a huge difference.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
This year has been incredibly tough on everyone. I’ve been making a conscious effort to pause and appreciate the present moment as much as I can.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
100% — especially when working from home! Take it from someone who’s spent the last 4 years working on my kitchen island 🙂 A morning routine is key, even if it’s just a walk around the block. Ideally, get a workout in and do 5 minutes of meditation. Another big one: set a time for when your work day ends and stick to it.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I refused to speak (or smile — or cry) for an entire year in Kindergarten class. Simply because my teacher didn’t let my dad stick around on the first day of school. Everything was fine at home but I refused to make a single sound on school property. I have no idea how 4-year-old me was that stubborn. Makes me laugh so hard when I think about it! ?
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Write down your main priorities for the day. Hydrate. And archive your emails when you’re done with them (this one’s a game changer!).
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Trusting your vision and always choosing the right thing over the easy thing.