WHO: Karen Robinovitz
WHAT: Purple Lab Cosmetics
WHERE: New York, NY
HOW: It all started with a cocktail party. “I ate so much that after twenty minutes, I felt full and uncomfortable, like my pants were suddenly one size too small. I told my husband I had to go home and he was a little disappointed…I jokingly said, “Well, if my lip gloss would plump my lips and not my hips, I wouldn’t be in this mess.” And with that, the idea for Purple Lab Cosmetics was born. “The light bulb in my head blinded me,” says Robinovitz. “What if there was a lip-gloss with plumper and appetite suppressant?” she thought.
After that fateful cocktail party, Robnovitz picked up the phone and called a friend who worked at a major makeup brand to see if she could make the product. “My husband grabbed my phone and said, “YOU make this product. This is the start of your brand!”
Two weeks later, Robinovitz trademarked “Huge Lips Skinny Hips,” a lip gloss that plumps your lips and curbs your appetite, seting the wheels in motion for developing her brand. “I had no idea what I was doing but after asking around, I found a lab, who recommended a manufacturer for components. I joined a beauty organization so I could create a network of insiders who could guide me,” says Robinovitz.
To get the product off the ground, Robinovitz and her husband invested their life savings into the new brand. “In the beginning, the investment didn’t seem large. What started as $5,000 turned into $50,000. And it hurt when I crossed the threshold of $250,000.” At one point, Robinovitz even considered selling her engagement ring. Thankfully, today, Purple Lab is funded by outside sources—and Robinovitz still has her engagement ring. “We now have investors and partners, which was vital and really the only way for us to take Purple Lab to the levels we envision,” says Robinovitz.
When Robinovitz started her brand she was working as a consultant, creating strategic communication plans for fashion and beauty brands. Eventually, burning the candle at both ends took its toll. “I almost didn’t have a choice. When I started the business, I had no idea it would take the amount of time and energy it took. And by the time I realized, I was so “in” – financially and emotionally – that there was no turning back,” she describes.
Within the next year, Purple Lab hopes to launch seven new products and cross the multi-million dollar revenue threshold. Robinovitz plans to base her next seven products (everything from mascara to hair product) on something she likes to call “double duty beauty.” “Everything will be about double duty beauty – chic, innovation, fun wrapped around science forward technology and cutting edge ingredients,” she describes. A former fashion, beauty and lifestyle journalist, Robinovitz promises that her products will be top of the line. “I have very discerning taste after being in the media, writing about beauty, and trying every single product there is to try for over a decade,” says Robinovitz.
HER ADVICE: According to Robinovitz, facing your fears head on is key to succeeding as an entrepreneur. “Do it. Lose all fear. Take a risk. Think of yourself as the baby chick learning to fly and just jump out of the tree,” she suggests. “Trust your vision and instincts,” she adds.
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