Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pink Quartz Minerals

Meet Doree, she is the owner and sparkly force behind PQM. I stumbled onto her on Etsy after a very unpleasant MMU encounter. Disillusioned and confused (yet still determined to de frump) Doree answered all my questions and turned out to not only be reputable but pretty swell all around.

Now you should know that I interview after I've purchased things. I'm not getting comped, I just want sellers I really like to do well and to spread the word because I'm sure there are others like me who really want to buy but aren't sure....

I bought the complete kit for $70.00 and the brushes were worth the price alone. The foundation is the first I've used, ever, that didn't give me 3D bias relief rash topography for a face. Plus, Doree sends directions. This is more importat then you'd think as with MMU there is a fine line between finished and frosted. Oh! Her lip balm is the best thing I have ever tried, hands down.

So, without further ado;
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Q: How did you originally get into the business of making things?

Actually, I'm not good at making things. I call myself the anti-craft, I have tried many, many crafts and either I don't have the patience to learn it, or it turns out terribly.  After trying the well-known commercial brand of makeup and promptly breaking out, I purchased a ton of minerals and played around trying to figure out what ingredient my skin didn't like and to see if I could make a foundation that would work and actually be the right shade for me.

This appealed to the science geek in me, as well as allowing me to test out some of the color theory I learned in school. I was super pleased and surprised when I finally came up with a formula that not only didn't cause a breakout and was the perfect color for me, but it also actually prevented me from breaking out.

Q. What made you decide to sell your wares?

I began wearing my foundation and other people noticed I looked good. Truth be told, I hadn't worn foundation for years because when I did I would break out badly, whether it was liquid, powder, whatever. So friends and family asked what I did (I have super ruddy skin, but the foundation evened it out noticeably).

Soon they were asking if I could make foundation for them, and then it became a case of having to make money to afford materials for making other things they were requesting like setting powder(veil), eye shadows, blushes, etc.  Also I didn't feel right about charging anyone (I'm over that) so having it become a business gave me the guts to do that.

Q: Tell us about your previous working situation:

I worked in customer service for over 10 years, and had quit to open a consignment shop thinking I would have more time to spend with my son. That lasted as long as the lease did, a year, as I soon realized the location I had chosen was horrible (don't pick a shop location by how much the rent is!).

It was really fun and I learned a lot about what it takes to have a business the hard way. I started selling on ebay then (I think it was 1999) and once I closed my store I continued to sell on ebay from home. After that I went to college, got an associates degree in interior design, and at the same time opened an ebay drop store.

Shortly after that ebay raised prices, I ended up closing the drop store as it was so hard to convince people that their priceless heirloom was worth only a buck or two, and to explain that yes, I needed to get paid. I continued selling on ebay from home (I still go thrifting and look for that big treasure) until I started making my makeup to sell.

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Q: When you first started selling, did you have dreams of quitting your day job?

I was doing it mostly for fun until personal circumstances forced me to start a website and find other venues to sell on because I had to support myself and my son on my own. I really saw the possibilities of this business and my niche market as up until then I hadn't seen anyone selling makeup with only 6 or 7 ingredients and all vegan, nor anyone making custom foundations for customers that are hard to match.

I was one of the few sellers on Etsy actually making makeup at the time I started selling there, and being new to this type of venue (after coming from ebay it was like a different planet) I had a lot to learn.

Q: Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time?

No, I didn't really know what I was getting into!

Q: What are the most effective ways you've marketed your business?

Lately almost all of my new customers on Etsy are referrals from happy buyers. I've done Project Wonderful on and off over the years, I have a sorely neglected blog, I'm on Facebook, but I think most of my traffic on my dot com is through Google searches.

I also have an ArtFire shop and previously had a store or a presence on DaWanda, Blujay, Zibbit, icraftica,Mint'd, Shopify, Big Cartel, Seeking Designers, Indiepublic,Wibizz, Talentdatabase,Lovli, and maybe some more places I can't remember!

I may still have stuff on some places so if anyone feels like looking they may get a great deal as some of those I haven't been to for years.  I'd love to have someone market for me as I don't have time to do it like I want to.

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Q: Walk us through your typical workday:

You asked for it!

Ok, a typical day would be get up at 7am to get boy up and prod him into getting ready (he's a teenager) and take him to school. Come home and either check email or dive into orders.
I only ship twice a week as it's just me and I have to make everything, and shipping every day was too much.

So I'll sit at the computer and take an order and hopefully orderS, check to make sure all the info is there then make the labels for the products I need. I do it in Word with templates and am constantly changing my mind about how I want them to look so if you get an order with a couple label styles, that's me not making a decision. :)

I print out the labels, then take them to the garage and spray seal them, usually stopping on the way back in the kitchen and grabbing a snack. I don't cook well and I don't like to, so when boy is not home I don't at all.

I'll check email around this time. Now as the labels dry (and de-stinkify) I wash my hands well and head to my office (it took over my bedroom, I sleep on the couch in the living room and the entire bedroom is my office/lab/workroom).

Donning non-latex gloves, a mask and my cute apron I sit at my glass-topped table and pull what I need for the order. I only make small batches at a time so inevitably something needs to be made. I'll fill what I can, I have my jars, sifters, etc in drawers within arms reach, and I put a pot on the scale and tare it, then carefully weigh as I fill. I put a sifter in the pot, put on the lid, then keep going until I have everything filled or I have to stop to make something.

If so I grab my handy dandy recipe notebook and my cups (I use a Magic Bullet to grind the minerals together- don't worry I only use it for makeup!) and I weigh and/or measure out the ingredients, grind it up and then check the color to make sure it matches the last batch.

You'd be surprised how the exact same recipe can come out differently due to factors such as differences in mineral hues, etc. (It just occurred to me that yeah, I guess I do "cook" lol) I'll fill my squirt bottle with the exquisite makeup I just made :) and continue on.

Once that's all done, I remove gloves and head out to garage for the labels. I usually end up changing my gloves about 5+ times a day because when I leave my workroom I automatically take them off and throw them away. I'm OCD about the makeup, I never actually touch anything with my hands- when making it I pour the minerals from my plastic storage containers into the plastic mixing cups, then into the plastic squeeze bottles then into the jars, and wear gloves the whole entire time.

Let me tell you I have seen some gross things on youtube showing people who supposedly make makeup and... ok, let's not go there.

So once I'm back with the labels and my gloves are on, I stick them on the appropriate jars, then double check and shrink wrap the jars. If I'm working on more than one order at a time I'll do them all at once, then when filling the orders I go slowly and double check the orders with the contents of the organza bags.

I like to put the jars in those, wrap with tissue and put in the padded envelope and write a little thank you on the back of my business card and pop that in with a little extra sample of something. I like to put in my new colors if I have one. Then it's print the shipping labels, stick them on and off to the P.O.

By this time it's generally 5-5:30 and time to pick up boy from school. I do most of my email, internet etc. work- ordering supplies, researching said supplies(always looking for a better quality/price on things), making new shades (which I love to do) and custom color matching, making lip balms, lipstick balms and whipped perfumes after suppertime.

Hopefully you're still with me and not too bored after that manifesto!

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Q: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

How far back? High school? Before I got married? LOL

If I could go back to when I first had to sell my makeup, I would tell myself to write down a mini business plan with financial goals, and above all to market my makeup HARD. I really didn't know what to do and there are other people that are much more well known than me that started their makeup businesses a long while after me.

It's now to the point where there are SO many makeup sellers it's amazing I get any new customers at all. I would really push the custom foundation aspect a lot more, and I would likely use more than the 7 ingredients that I do use so I could get more bright colors and color changing products- or at least start 2 completely separate makeup lines to do that.

I would force myself to learn to use an accounting software instead of what I still use, a ledger book.

I would tell myself not to be afraid of facebook, twitter and other social networking and tell myself to actually learn how to use all these great tools instead of just the rudimentary aspects.

I also would tell myself to open a supply shop on Etsy :)

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Q: What advice would you give someone else?

I'd love to sound all sage and wise here and say something about being true to your vision or don't give up on your dreams or such. Other more eloquent people have said those things already.

All I can say is if you want to make things to sell to make a living, it's going to be a hard road so prepare yourself by talking to successful business people in your community and online and take advantage of all the business and marketing info on the internet that you can.

Also make sure you know how much it will cost to start up, then double it.  It is possible, and it is worth it.


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