Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Jazmin Alvarez created Pretty Well Beauty, a marketplace for Black and Brown women to access non-toxic beauty products that create a happier, holistic relationship with their skin. She wanted Black and Brown women to have easy access to clean products. Her mission is to shift the beauty narrative and work with brands that set high standards in their products while also celebrating inclusivity.
Jazmin wanted to create a less overwhelming shopping experience for Black and Brown women who often are overwhelmed by the products that don't focus on the needs of Black women in regards to price and ingredients. Usually, this lack of representation makes them feel unseen and ignored. With Pretty Well Beauty, Jazmin offers women to bridge beauty and wellness to enhance their total well-being.
She said, "I believe that beauty is an inside job. So, what we put on the inside should echo what we put on the outside. I believe that everything that is happening on the inside is a direct reflection of what's going on inside. Having products that can support both is really important to me."
What are you most proud of when it comes to Pretty Well Beauty?
Jazmin is most proud of building a brand in an unfamiliar industry. This is her first time venturing into entrepreneurship. Between her second and third years of running her company, she's witnessed 100% organic growth.
What were some of your biggest fears along your journey?
Jazmin experienced a lot of fears along the way. She wasn't sure if anyone would purchase from her. She feared the sustainability of her business because she was unsure about her skillset as an entrepreneur. Jazmin learned on the go, like most Black and Brown women entrepreneurs who lack access to necessary resources.
She shared, "I really was just kind of playing it by not really by ear, but sort of, you know? Just trying and testing different things to see what worked, and there were a lot of unknowns. I think that within itself is really scary. You know, stepping out of your comfort zone is something that is very scary, but it's not like I've never done that before, but just not in this capacity."
Jazmin admitted despite Pretty Well Beauty's success. Fears continued to linger. She further shared, "I think it's just about how you channel that fear. That makes the difference."
Tell us about any significant setbacks that you had in your business and how you recovered?
As a new company at the height of the pandemic, Jazmin's concerns were if her business would make any sales. Pretty Well Beauty received many of its customer bases through pop-up events during her first year in business. Jazmin pivoted her efforts into strengthening her online presence. Although her goal was to be 100% online eventually, this goal came sooner than she was ready for.
She said, "I know how to sell things in person. I didn't really know how to sell things via email. Because I literally have never done that before. I worked in retail in high school and college, selling things I really love and believe that's easy. But when you're doing it, and you're trying to build a list, and you're trying to build a following of strangers without having any knowledge or knowing anything about you—I wasn't sure how to do that."
Jazmin doubled her profits in 2020 through online and email marketing without advertising. She will be testing more ads in the future and now understands the power of having a robust digital marketing strategy. Jazmin figured a lot of this out with little guidance. She's thankful for pivoting and not giving up.
She said, "I feel pretty proud that I was able to grow in the middle of a global pandemic."
Describe what it was like preparing for the pitch competition?
This was Jazmin's first time pitching in public. She had a pitch deck before the pitch, but she condensed it with the help of the pitch practices and to remain at the three-minute mark. She spent much of her time practicing and timing herself.
She shared, "But taking the feedback from Shelly was really helpful. Getting that constructive criticism was really helpful for me. To take away the things that I thought were important that really weren't and focus on the ones that are the most important that she thought would resonate the most."
Jazmin also spent time fine-tuning the story and the journey sections of her pitch. She wanted to show the investors an investible company by showing them hard facts. Despite being a small company, there were lots of opportunities, and that the growth trajectory was there.
Jazmin provided feedback to those who were looking to pitch. It's crucial to practice both in front of your friends and the mirror. She encourages people to receive feedback, to fine-tune their pitch because part of the magic is in the editing. She suggests not to look at your business as your baby because you need to focus on being concise, and if you're not concise, you'll want to leave everything in the pitch. Jazmin recommends deep breathing, having fun, and letting people see your personality.
She said, "I think that goes a long way and allows people to be able to connect with you on a human level. Most likely, the people that you're pitching to have heard thousands of pitches before. So you want to kind of infuse your personality and your humanity behind it because I think that's what really is going to resonate when we're pitching at this early stage.
Because as we all know, most investors, when they are investing at this very, very early stage, are investing in the person. They're taking a risk on you. So if you're able to find a way to connect while also showing the opportunity, I think finding that balance, it's going to serve anybody very well."
Jazmin used her pitch funds for marketing purposes, allowing her to build ads on Instagram and Facebook.
Support isn't always given to Black and Brown women in business; when has this shown and hurt or disappointed you the most?
Jazmin found she received less support from Black VCs. She said, "I was having a conversation about this with one of my advisors. And it's actually happened amongst the Black investors. We were saying how white VCs tend to be very lenient in terms of their vetting process. A lot of times, when they are looking to invest in one of their peers.
Whereas many investors who are Black and they're talking to Black founders are very strict on us. And I don't know if it's because they want to challenge us or just want to make sure that they can compete against, I guess, the White counterparts in the startup world.
Or maybe the combination of both, but I feel like that barrier is so much higher amongst our own people. For some reason, I don't really understand that. I don't really agree with that. Because if they're positioning themselves as wanting to provide capital and resources and funding for, you know, the underserved and the underestimated women of color, they should make the barrier a little bit less high for us. I'm not really seeing that happen because I have conversations with White investors, and they don't give me the same pushback."
What's the most critical lesson that you've learned about business?
Jazmin learned that it's okay to ask for help. She realized that you couldn't do everything on your own. Burnout happens when you begin to do everything yourself without taking a break. She recommends taking breaks and understanding that your business will not burn to the ground if you take some time off.
What's the biggest risk that you've taken so far?
Jazmin said, "Putting my entire savings into my business. But before that, moving to New York City with $300 in a suitcase without a job, or even an interview lined up." She's known to take risks, and thus far, her risks have paid off. She's been in New York now for 16 years since packing up that suitcase.
How do you measure success?
Jazmin believes that success shows itself in multiple ways. Money is an outward indicator of success. However, she isn't paying herself a salary yet. As a result, she seeks other ways to validate her success. Being around people who genuinely want to see her win and asking them for help is part of her definition of success because asking for help was always difficult for her.
She said, "It's something that I feel very uncomfortable with doing, actually, but I've been able to push through that, and I think that is a measure of success."
Jazmin focuses on the bigger picture and does her best not to become distracted by comparing herself with other people's successes. She focuses on developing her journey and creating her lane. In addition, success is finding the balance between work and her health.
She said, "If I can go to bed at night, feeling like I have been very productive and I wasn't just busy doing busy work, that feels successful to me. I think being healthy is successful to me. Being able to balance my personal needs with the needs of my business and being able to keep that balance consistent, I think that is successful."
What's the most exciting part of your business?
Jazmin loves finding new brands to partner with and building relationships. She enjoys creating genuine connections. Being an entrepreneur has encouraged her to come out of her shell as an introverted person. She knew she had to adapt quickly on her business journey. She's had 14 years in the fashion industry and spent time as a photo producer—she's always remained behind the scenes. Now, as a CEO & Founder, she has to be front-facing for her business.
What do you think is the most critical skill or asset to have to be successful in business?
There are several skills Jazmin believes entrepreneurs need to be successful in business. "I think adaptability, the willingness to learn, the willingness to collaborate—understanding your weaknesses as well as your strengths very intimately. Being a good leader, leading by example, and never losing that humane side of you. Especially in the early days, I think it's crucial because most of what you build is built on your relationships. That's the only way I've been able to succeed is because of my relationships."
If you and I were meeting three years from now, looking back, what would it take for you to feel over the moon about your progress?
Jazmin hopes to have a solid and loyal full-time team that helps her continue building and growing her business, giving her the flexibility to work anywhere around the world.
What do you think the future holds for Black and Brown women entrepreneurs and small business owners?
Jazmin said, "I think if future for Black women entrepreneurs is brighter than they have ever been. While there are still lots of challenges our White counterparts will never have to face, when I look back at how much progress has been made in the last three years, it gives me hope that more space will continue to open up and allow Black women entrepreneurs to be able to compete in a more level playing field in the not too distant future."
Running a business while balancing a personal life can be demanding and taxing. How do you take care of yourself?
Jazmin ensures that she spends her mornings taking care of herself. She typically doesn't start working on her business until 11 or noon. Jazmin uses that time to meditate and bring calm and alignment into her day. Then she'll drink some celery juice or hot lemon water.
Although this routine may last a few hours, it sets the tone for the rest of her day. Because of her late morning starts, it takes her sometimes well into the night. That allotted time for herself is non-negotiable. She doesn't schedule meetings or takes calls around that time unless to connect with someone in another country.
What is your favorite quote or mantra?
"The service we render others is the rent we pay for our space here on earth."
What books and podcasts would you recommend?
Podcast: How I Built This
Book: It's About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated Into Your Greatest Advantage by Arlan Hamilton
What's your favorite business hack or app that you can't live without?
Notion, Google Drive, and Canva.
Name one food item that you have a hard time saying no to.
What's next for Pretty Well Beauty?
Jazmin is developing a web application that will change the way people discover and shop for their clean beauty products.