In Conversation with Terri Bryant of GUIDE BEAUTY

Terri Bryant1_Blog Header

Describe your business in a few words?

GUIDE BEAUTY was founded with a mission to reinvent makeup application in a way that makes it easier for all users – from people who feel they lack the skills to apply makeup to people who have had to give up makeup due to physical limitations.  With universally designed products, and a passion for inclusivity, our goal is to democratize makeup by making even the trickiest looks accessible to everyone.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

Makeup artistry often requires a high level of precision and fine motor skills. Drawing a straight line of eyeliner and defining symmetrical brows are just a few examples of techniques that many makeup users find challenging and time consuming. As a professional makeup artist and beauty education executive I have devoted my career to helping others learn how to apply makeup. 

Five years ago, after noticing some struggles of my own, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. My personal experience and that shift in my ability has allowed me to actually feel where traditional tools and products can fall short in achieving great results. Though it comes with challenges, my diagnosis has given me an unexpectedly beautiful gift. One that I am grateful and excited to share. 

I am now able to approach makeup and how we apply it from a unique lens. GUIDE BEAUTY allows me to reimagine the world of makeup with formulas and tools rooted in a culture of inclusivity which are universally designed to make applying makeup a joyful and welcoming experience for everyone.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I’ve worked in the Cosmetics industry for 25 as a makeup artist behind the scenes, presenting on-air at QVC, QVC UK, and HSN, and as an education executive, training and developing artistry programs for brands such as Dior, Smashbox, and Josie Maran. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I’ve always felt rewarded and fulfilled by my work as a makeup artist and an educator. My Father-in-law always said, “Do what you love, and success will follow.”  I am fortunate to have found a career that I love and do well.  While I didn’t always set out to be an entrepreneur, I naturally gravitate to the creative process and love a challenge. Founding my own company is a place where those desires met.

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?

Our research and design process helped inform our marketing strategies. Our patent pending products have a very unique look, but are intuitive once placed in the hand of the user. Therefore, our outreach was focused on demonstrating the products through social media, video tutorials and influencers.

Our brand principles include innovation, artistry, inclusivity and community.  We specifically targeted publications and channels that appreciate these principles. For example, the New York Times article titled, “Is Accessibility the final frontier in beauty?, “ featured the brand for our universal design. Early brand exposure from influential outlets such as Shape, Allure, Marie Claire, Glamour, and Dazed Beauty put us on the social media map by focusing on both the aesthetic of our design and our efforts to make artistry easy and accessible for everyone.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

To see our brand supported and celebrated by the likes of The New York Times, Glamour, Allure, Elle, Shape, Marie Claire, and more has been beyond exciting.  To then receive accolades like Allure’s Best of Beauty Breakthrough Award and O, The Oprah Magazine’s Best of Beauty “O-Ward” have been absolute standout, “please pinch me” moments. I am grateful every day that the industry experts have embraced our product and our mission of inclusivity. That said, the moments that warm my heart came from the connection to our community and the opportunity to see our products make a difference for all who are struggling with their makeup, one person at a time.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

  • Describe the color yellow to someone who is blind. 
  • Think about the group dynamic and where/how this person fits in.   
  • Make sure to understand what motivates someone to ensure you’re in a position to support their growth. 

When interviewing another great question is to ask someone in under 5 minutes to tell you what makes your brand unique and/or inspiring.  The answer will help determine if they are naturally aligned with your mission and brand ethos.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

The pandemic has certainly affected the options of how and where companies can connect with their community. We’ve found social media to be an incredible platform. It’s allowed us to not only share our story, but to engage in a much more meaningful way. People are people. We still long for connection. During Covid-19, social media has given us all the opportunity to maintain existing connections and build new ones.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

Exciting things are happening in the GUIDE Lab! We started with the products and techniques (eyeliner, brow and mascara) that create definition. Products that create definition are not only the most impactful, but also tend to be the most challenging for the everyday makeup wearer. We wanted to tackle these challenging techniques first and offer a range of products that allow the user to wholly define the area around the eyes. From there, through our method of Universal Design and a culture of inclusivity, we will be expanding our color range as well as continue focusing feature-by-feature to create a full GUIDE Beauty face.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

No matter how much you plan, the unexpected will happen. At the end of the day, we’re not alone and we’re better when we go through it together.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

I’ve learned to celebrate small successes and not overly obsess over mistakes. Early on I worked overtime to avoid the “setbacks” and “mistakes”. What I now know and embrace, is that those moments often present the greatest opportunities to improve. 

In creating GUIDE Beauty, we were innovating in a white space. There are references, but the bulk of the work comes down to extensive exploration and countless reworks. It’s an incredibly hands on, iterative process. Getting around setbacks takes time, and you have to be open to learning, tweaking and adjusting as you test internally and across a broad range of users. If you can learn just one thing from each iteration, you’ve made progress. 

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

I start every morning with a moment of gratitude. It’s part of several mindful moments I incorporate throughout my day.A few moments to breathe, take a quick “retreat” on the patio, and reconnect mind & body.  It’s self-care, it’s important and just a few moments can be so impactful. 

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

100%! That doesn’t mean that every day I find that balance, but it starts with intention. Many of the techniques I employ to stay grounded are to create a mindful space that allows me to stop, breath, and reconnect with myself – mind & body. Those moments allow me to catch myself when tunnel vision gets the best of me. 

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m an odd kind of introvert. While I’m super comfortable on live television and speaking in front of large crowds, a small cocktail party can send me reeling.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • Have a daily routine 
  • Incorporate some exercise
  • Set daily goals

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

It means I have the freedom to create, to grow, and to develop meaningful relationships. It means you’re part of a beautiful community connected by an entrepreneurial spirit and empowered by the collective journey.

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