Updated: Apr 27, 2022
Art gives us the ability to express ourselves, especially if finding the words can be difficult. The process of self-expression allows us to connect at a deeper level. Shureice Kornegay fully understands this idea. She is the founder of Fleeky Friday, a stunning cosmetic brand that uses bold and innovative colors and products where art meets makeup.
Shureice said, "It was important for me to create this brand because it's something near and dear to my heart is being creative because I feel like art is something that separates us from the everyday world. Like you think about it, everyday life is a lot of drudgeries. You get up, go to work, do this, and do that, and it's almost repetitive. It's like a hamster wheel.
But art is something that breaks that pattern, and it brings us back, and it lets us know that we're human beings, and art has always been a passion of mine ever since I was a kid. What separates us from the animals, so to speak, is our ability to express ourselves and create and emote and take a white wall or a face and turn it into something magical."
Shureice has been featured in The Ultimate Glam and ELLE Magazine. Fleeky Friday gives artists the tools to create art however they want to shine.
What are you most proud of when it comes to Fleeky Friday?
Shureice is most proud of starting Fleeky Friday from scratch to serve her community to solve problems they were having with the cosmetics. She receives input and suggestions, which helps her create products that work for them.
Shureice said, "I'm like, okay, I can find a way to improve that. Like, that's what I do. Making people happy and making people's lives easier has brought me so much joy, and it really helps you understand how fulfillment really works. When you pour, it comes back to you. So it's not really about having. It really is about giving. And that's like, one of the biggest realizations for me is when you contribute that sense of just joy and fulfillment, what you get out of that it's worth more than anything you could ever make—being able to give and to be of service."
What fears did you have along the journey?
Shureice admitted she feels fear most of the time, but she also acknowledges that fear isn't a bad thing. She believes fear moves people forward and helps them avoid complacency. She said, "You never want to be comfortable. You never want to allow yourself to get into these patterns. You always want to be inventive and creative. And a lot of that comes from fear like, oh, will I make it? Am I going to be successful? That will get you up off your butt. So it's really important to have a splash of fear."
Shureice believes the fears entrepreneurs encounter are no different from someone who holds a regular job. She said, "There really is no safe, you know, road. You have to pick something that you're passionate about. So at least you'll find happiness for yourself along the way."
What's the biggest risk you've taken so far?
Shureice felt at a difficult disadvantage because funding for Fleeky Friday came from her savings. She feared that if her business didn't succeed, she would lose every dime invested into the company, and she would have to start from scratch. Shureice reframed that belief by saying, "When you start over, you're not starting from scratch. You're starting from experience. So, whatever you do after that, it will be better."
Learning how to fund your business for yourself is critical knowledge that she believes all entrepreneurs must learn because it alleviates the burden and pressures of a solo financier.
She said, "You're fighting for the future of your business. It could be the difference between you shutting down next year and you going on to be as successful as you could ever possibly want to be. You know what I'm saying? That's what the funding is. And I do not care how talented you are. You could have the greatest idea on earth. Without that money, what are you gonna do?"
Tell us about any major setbacks that you had and how you recovered.
Since the impact of COVID, Fleeky Friday experienced a roller coaster of a ride. Shureice experienced her first 5-figure month one month, and then she noticed that customers weren't returning. For most people in an economic crisis, makeup isn't a priority. She pivoted a few times with her product line. Since people were wearing masks and not showing their lips, she created more eye products that made people's faces pop. Noticing the shift in the industry, Fleeky Friday put themselves in the center of the eye makeup industry, which garnished them quite a bit of press.
Shureice said, "So as a brand, you have to pivot from doing something that was successful in the past to doing something that will be successful. And that agility is something that a lot of entrepreneurs lack. I know I, myself, it's something that I work on."
Describe what it was like preparing for the pitch competition.
Shureice had never participated in a pitch competition before and didn't know what a pitch deck was. She's always been comfortable with public speaking, but the competition felt different. Shureice said, "One thing I appreciate about BGV is you guys literally took the time to explain to us all of these things. How to do a pitch deck, and I had a pitch deck, but it wasn't doing a service to my brand in the way that I thought it was, and that became evident again in the coaching."
She learned how much funding to ask for, improved her slides, and conveyed her passion and energy for her brand. She said, "That's the X factor with a lot of these brands. Does it have a founder that's really, really passionate about their work? And that comes across when you're pitching, like, are you passionate about what you're doing, or are you just doing it? People can see that, and it makes them want to support you. And it makes them more interested in what you're doing. Another thing I like about what you guys shared with us—a pitch competition, it's like an art form. It's not just you reading slides.
Like just sharing your excitement and your passion with others because passion is, honestly, it's contagious. If you have it, you're going to pass it on to your customers. You're going to pass it on to investors. Learning that was really, really important."
Her advice to those looking to pitch in is, "Reach out to your connections. And don't just wait on folks to vote for you; reach out. I'm pretty sure there's not a soul that I've ever come into contact with that did not know about this contest. Ah, they was tired of me, baby! They was tired of me, girl, but yeah, don't sit there and just expect to win no matter how good your pitch is.
It's a pitch competition, but it is also a fundraising competition. How many people can you get to invest their money in your brand? How many people can you reach out to? I was doing live videos like, hey, you know, I'm in a pitch competition?
Like I was going hard, like I was launching a new product. And that's what you have to do to win something like this because I wasn't aware that I had 192 friends and family and supporters that were willing to give their money and essentially not receive a service in the hopes of supporting my brand and it's eye-opening.
These people would support you, and they were excited to do so. So it's something that's an eye-opener. And I think it's a great opportunity. So my advice is to take it very, very seriously like you could win. Like you can win. Don't wait to win. Go and grab it."
After she won, she reconnected with her supporters to thank them for their investment in her brand. Shureice plans to use the pitch funds to upgrade her website to better optimize on mobile. She bought Final Cut Pro so she could create higher-quality content. Shureice also bought a gimbal to create a more polished brand look. She also plans to invest in professional development and learn new skills to help her business grow.
Support isn't always given to Black and Brown women in business; when has this shown and hurt or disappointed you the most?
Shureice spoke candidly and said, "Oh my goodness. I would come out with ideas, and I know that they were original ideas, and see another brand take my same idea, which I know was from me, steal it, and as a non-person of color, make more money off my ideas than I ever would. That, to me, is heartbreaking. It's frustrating. And it's one of the things that makes me feel like I just don't even know, you know, like if I want to be in this business, but I never stop, and I never quit.
Eventually, I will get so good that it will be hard for them to steal my ideas. My goal is to become so good that it is impossible to take ideas from me. Still, I'm sure many entrepreneurs in many different fields can relate to that aspect of being a Brown creative and having their ideas stolen.
Having your ideas taken from you without any credit and watching those people excel and basically profiting from your idea. I'm not gonna name no names, you know, I don't want no smoke, but just in general, this is something like, if you look at what's happening on Tik TOK, these Black creatives are coming up with these dances—bomb dances, and then, you know, a person will come and do that dance and blow up.
Meanwhile, the original creator is essentially left with nothing. That's really, really frustrating. It's very—it's incredibly frustrating. I think it's the most frustrating aspect of being in any creative field as a person of color."
Ultimately, Shureice understands she's unique in her own right and how she creates is unduplicatable.
Shureice further shared, "I've seen so many brands that have done that to me and come and be here and gone in six months. They just stopped posting to their page. They disappear. They're not serious. They just want a quick buck, nine times out of 10. If you're not generally coming up with your own ideas, your brand probably will not do that well."
What's the most critical lesson that you've learned about business?
Shureice believes you need to keep going. She said, "I've seen people who were, you know, less talented than other people, less by any metric. They have less of whatever that is, but they're consistent. And that consistency speaks for itself. You can be average at what you're doing, but you will get somewhere if you show up every day.
Show up every day. If you're a musician, you're an entrepreneur; I don't care what you're doing—showing up every day. People see that you're serious. They take you more seriously.
They become fans like this person is so consistent. Well, I can trust that, you know, this person is going to come through. Being consistent, but I can't speak to that enough, honestly. Show up every day to that job that you want to do. Show up every day. I don't care in what forum. If you don't want to do your makeup that day, you don't want to make music that day, tell people how hard it is for you. Tell people about your struggles, tell your story but make sure you show up every day, and that's what I've learned."
What do you think is an important skill or asset you need to succeed in business?
Shureice believes every entrepreneur needs to know how to connect with people, with the second layer being consistency. When you show up, you connect genuinely with your audience and bring your authentic self. She doesn't believe you need to be perfect or have more. You just need to be yourself every time. Shureice encourages entrepreneurs not to get bogged down by how many likes they receive. She encourages entrepreneurs to focus on only needing one person who likes their brand enough to help them get to the next level of their business.
She said, "You don't need a billion followers to succeed. You really don't. You just need to connect with just those few people every day or every week, or however often, just to be able to, you know, really sustain yourself and grow. And you can build on those relationships and create new relationships, but the ability to genuinely connect with others, I think, is just the most important thing that you could have. I don't care what you're doing in your life."
What's the most exciting part of your business?
Shureice loves solving problems for her customers and then waiting to unveil the solutions. She loves how they get excited with a new product, idea, or method. Shureice loves taking something they think can't be done and then doing it. That excitement they have excites her.
What do you think the future holds for Black and Brown women entrepreneurs?
Shureice said, "I would love to see more of us become like your organization. I would love to see more opportunities like this come up for Black and Brown people by Black and Brown people because nobody's going to look out for us, you know, like we will. No one will understand where we are coming from like we do. And what I mean by that is at the end of the day, Black women still get less than 1%.
They're not checking for us like that, you know. It's sad, but it's the truth. And there aren't that many opportunities. I would love to see more opportunities like this in the future because there aren't many. There need to be thousands of y'all. The future is us, creating more opportunities for ourselves until we are seen in the way we need—we deserve to be seen."
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?
Shureice hopes that she will create generational wealth for her family through her business. This is personal because she doesn't want to see her children experience the same situations as her. She said, "It's not even a wealth thing. It's a safety thing. It's a peace of mind thing for me.
That's where I would like to see my business. I would like to reach millions of women and help them create futures for themselves. Like I would love to be able to give grants the way that you guys do. I think this is brilliant and I think it's important. Creating a life where my children or I don't have to worry about what most people have to worry about."
How do you measure success?
Shureice said, "Being better than I was a year ago. If I looked back two years ago, I would have killed to be where I'm at now and doing the things I'm doing now. And it doesn't feel like it. And that's the crazy part. When you get higher than you were, you forget that you've come so far and feel like you haven't done enough.
It's like a paradox. Like one minute, you're like, man, I'm killing it. And the next minute, but I'm not like them over there. They're doing so much better. But it's like if you look at where you were three years ago, two years ago, you would've lost your mind. If you knew the things that you would accomplish, it doesn't feel like much to you now because you're there, but you three years ago would have probably passed out.
If they knew all the cool stuff you are up to now, that doesn't even feel that great cause you're here. So man, if I had told myself, me from three years ago, half the stuff that I'd be able to—oh, you're going to win the BGV pitch competition. And you're going to get followed by ELLE Magazine, and the Huff post is going to interview you on eye makeup trends. I'd be like, girl, you just lying today.
And that's dangerous too. Thinking of yourself in those small terms, you can't do that. You have to be prepared to talk about, hey, what's your biggest dream? And you can't be afraid to dream.
It's terrifying. It really is. You wake up tomorrow, and you got 500 orders. Like people, they want those things, but they aren't prepared often, and I've seen successful brands go under from the weight of being successful because they aren't prepared. It's so nuanced. It's incredible."
Running a business while balancing a personal life can be demanding and taxing. How do you take care of yourself?
Shureice likes to pull away from her business. She wakes up early in the morning and takes long baths. She likes to disconnect, read, exercise, and have gaming sessions. Shureice enjoys doing activities that are unrelated to work. She engages in activities solely for her enjoyment.
She said, "And it's crazy. I was out with a friend the other day, and I'm just like, hey, I've recently got into gaming, and they're like, oh, you have time for that? And it made me think like, people will put everything in their schedule but themselves. You got time for that? Yes. Yes, I have time to enjoy myself. Life is not just bills and work and, you know, obligations. You're supposed to enjoy it. You know, you're supposed to have things—just like you're gonna sit there and schedule that meeting with your client, when are you going to schedule some time for yourself, outside of everyone and everything else? Self-care is even just the acknowledgment of the things that you enjoy.
What do you enjoy by yourself? Of yourself, in and of yourself? Find those things and make sure you do them all. That's self-care to me. It's not just skincare and having fresh skin and looking good and then we all have those things. But just like inside of you, what are the things that you truly enjoy doing outside of your appearance and other external things?
To me, that is true self-care, like who is self? You gotta fight so your light doesn't go out because it will go out. This world works hard to put it out sometimes."
What is your favorite quote or mantra?
"Instead of waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel, you have to be the light."
"We think that happiness is at the other end of this is on the other side of that. No, wherever you go there, you at."
"You're not going to outrun yourself."
What is a book that you would recommend?
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
What's your favorite business hack or app you can't live without?
Fiverr and a virtual assistant.
What's one food item that you have a hard time saying no to?
A sandwich called William The 8th: two croissants with brie, ham, a sprinkle of bacon, and some avocado.
What's next for Fleeky Friday?
Shureice will be creating brand packages, content, and a new logo and developing more products. She's also working on a new skincare line. She said, "You realize how much money you need when you get funding. It opens your eyes to how you've been operating. And it's like, man, this could be so much easier." Fleeky Friday is also collaborating with other brands.
Any last words…
Shureice said, "Just the whole experience was nice. I have become more of a polished entrepreneur from start to finish. I went in, you know, like, oh, this will be fun. And coming out, like, okay, I need to be looking for more opportunities like this to put myself out there, and I need to be going harder.
And I need to reach out to these people I didn't know was silent supporters. Like there are ways to leverage this for both of our benefits. What am I doing to capitalize on this and make as much of this as possible? So it took me from being like, la la to like, okay, this is it. This is a pivotal moment. Like, what am I going to do with this? It doesn't stop here.
And this is good, like a pat on the back, because I barely get a pat on the back. You know, we get ourselves, but like hearing that you're doing great from other entrepreneurs and from organizations like this that are so official like it makes you feel like maybe you are going in the right direction. Yeah, it's beautiful. It's helpful. It's encouraging, and encouragement is so underrated. We need it. And this is a huge encouragement."