Katonya Breaux, founder of Unsun Cosmetics, on her mission to create clean, high-quality skincare for all
Katonya sits down with us to chat about the gap she saw in the sunscreen market for people of all shades, how to make sure you’re hiring employees who are passionate about your brand, and how your spirit affects your work.
Describe Unsun Cosmetics in a few words?
Clean, mineral based sunscreen for all skin tones.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I needed sunscreen that did not make me look like a ghost and was clean.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I owned a construction company for 20 years.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Yes. I started my first company at 21.
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?
I announced the launch on my social and asked my high follower friends to do the same.
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 held on to an employee long after I should have let her go because she was making so many mistakes. I liked her and didn’t want to hurt her. However, one of those mistakes almost caused us to lose a big buyer and scared the heck out of me. I’ve learned that business must always stay professional and not personal.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Other than raising two beautiful young men? 🙂
I am most confident in sticking to my belief in clean beauty, even when everyone wasn’t on board.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
Do you have the willingness to treat this company as your own? Being a small brand, this is very important. We have a small team so each member should be willing and able to wear many hats and be willing to take initiative.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
We were definitely impacted in the early days. However, once the BLM protests started and there was a call to action to support Black-owned companies, we sold out twice.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We will continue to innovate and bring clean spf products to the market while also continuing to educate people that no matter your skin tone, we all need sun protection!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Oh boy. I lost my baby boy at 18 in August. My big lesson transcended business. I was unable to work the remainder of the year. However, I will say that I’ve learned the unpredictability in life and as far as the early part of the year goes, in business.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
That being an entrepreneur can be lonely. It’s unlikely that you will be able to hire anyone in those early days so you spend a lot of time alone wearing all the hats.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Meditation, prayer and burying myself in books.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I absolutely believe in this. I’ve always done this very well. Work is just a part of what you do in this life, it should never consume you to the point that you neglect the people or the things that you love. If your spirit is lacking so will your ability to truly thrive at work.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a bit of a tomboy. I love outdoors and am not afraid of climbing ladders or trees.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Meditate before you check your phone or have your coffee, clear your mind and remind yourself that you are in control of the mind, not the other way around. Make a to do list and check off each item as it’s done. If you start feeling stressed, take a walk.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista means having the courage to step out into the world and create something in hopes that it leaves a positive impact on society in ways that lifts up rather than bring down.