1. A woman noted for courage and daring action. 2. A woman noted for special achievement in a particular field.
Here to encourage, motivate and/or give you insight into what it takes to go after your vision, your love, your baby and make it work for you is the lovely Valerie Reed of Valana Minerals.
1) Please tell us about Valana Minerals and what makes it so special and unique.
Well, when it comes to natural cosmetics, there really aren't many companies that target women of color. And so, its unique that way. And to the best of my knowledge, its the only company that has the specialty of "all-natural and vegan" with the target of women of color. There's not another company that does that at all. So there's some (companies) that are mostly natural, or vegan but with some synthetics, or a combination of things. I think that's one of the things that make it very unique.
And our foundation colors are really diverse. So we have a very good selection of shades that I consider to be very realistic. Meaning that they are not too orange or that they don't turn orange on you after you've had them on a few hours. That's a common complaint. And they really are formulated so that they can cross ethnic barriers. So that people of Asian descent can find a number of selections that will work for them. People who are of African descent can find a bunch of colors. Latinas have choices. We have a lot of customers who are from India. Pacific Islanders. And so its very unique in that sense as well.
2) How was Valana Minerals birthed?
Well, I had trouble finding makeup for myself. and several years ago, I had a bad reaction... Actually it was an allergic reaction to antibiotics. And I was ill. As it turned out, I also had Selenium toxicity. And I went through quite the educational process to learn what Selenium was. Where it came from. And how your body uses it and needs it. And how you can end up with toxic levels of it . And that is what got me to look at my cosmetics. It was my acupuncturist who helped me figure out that that's what the problem was. And then we went through all my cosmetics and found that its in some brands of shampoo. And so, I didn't realize at that time that I was getting it in my diet in multi-vitamins and that it was a possibility that it could be absorbed through your skin. I had no idea. So that's when I started learning more about natural cosmetic ingredients. I would make things for myself like moisturizers, lotions, cleansers and things.
But I never really wanted to make anything to sell. That wasn't my goal. It was just kind of something for me. And I wanted to use makeup but I had trouble because every time I would look for colored cosmetics either they didn't have the color that would match or I'd find something that was kind of a close match but then it would make me break out. And so, I went for years and never wore makeup. And then I complained about it for years and years and then finally said, "If its going to get done then I need to do it myself." So I started the company.
3) In the development of your business, your company, where there any courses that you took or was it a learning process that you did on you own?
Well, when I decide that I'm gonna do something I can be very focused. And so, once I made the decision to do it I was kind of full-forced. So I found two mentors that really helped me tremendously. And a lot of what they did was just motivating me and helping me realize that I could do it. And that I didn't have to constantly compare myself to the "big boys". That it was something doable and manageable. That was really beneficial.
I think that mentors are crucial. And I think that we need several mentors for whatever it is we're doing because every professional has their own specialty. Each has something unique to offer. So when people say thing like, "I have A mentor." I'm like, "No, you need more than A mentor." You need several. I think my mentors are instrumental in helping me see the possibilities in what I could do. I'd bounce ideas off of them and things like that.
And when it came to money I had some that I had socked away from a refinance. I had refinanced my condominium. And I just put the money away rather than spending it on frivolous things cause I knew that I'd probably use it for something eventually. And I ended up using it as the seed money to get started.
4) How long has Valana Minerals been in existence?
Almost 3 years now.
5) Did you receive a lot of support when you first started out?
Well, from friends and family. And I still do. And of course there are those folks who are kind of negative. I actually lost a couple of friends in the process of starting the business because they weren't happy with the way things were going. They stopped talking to me. So that was kind of painful but for the most part everybody has been really supportive. My parents helped me a lot. I'm not married. I don't have any kids so I didn't have to negotiate anything with a husband.(laugh)
My parents have been really helpful and supportive. My little brother is instrumental in keeping everything going and that sort of thing.
6) Looking back, is there anything you wish you had done or handled differently?
*Thinks for a moment* I think I probably would have set up a bookkeeping system from the start. I think that would've been a smarter thing to do. I mean, I kept good records but it was good for me and what I was doing at the time. And in a number of ways, I built the company with the intent for growth. But I didn't do that with the financial record keeping part. When I first got started my goal was to eventually be able to sell to major market retailers. So when I chose the jars that the makeup was going to be in, even though initially, I wasn't selling a lot of it, I wanted to make sure that my jars would look good on a shelf at a department store. So I tried to do that sort of thing from the beginning as best as I could. And then adapt as I grew. And I think it would've been better to do that with the money and record keeping first.
Like I didn't even buy Quickbooks until I had already been in business for a year and a half, or two years. I just did everything manually. And then when I did finally invest in Quickbooks I had to switch everything over and input all the data. And that was just a pain. So it would've been smart to do that from the start.
7) Speaking of bookkeeping, are you still managing that yourself? Or do you have an accountant?
No, I have a tax attorney. A tax consultant. And then I have a regular attorney. A business attorney, one that deals with trademark and copyright and all that stuff. Um , but mostly my tax attorney and the tax consultant. They do everything. I just give them the documents and they just roll their eyes and say, "Okay. I'll go take care of it." *laughing*
8) How have you stayed motivated? Or what has kept you motivated whenever you may have hit a difficult time in your business?
Well, my customers. And my helpers really help a lot. I really do have amazing customers. And sometimes when I feel like I don't want to do this . Like I'm really tired. Like if someone offered me enough money I'd sell the business tomorrow. When I feel like that way, I really think about my customers and the fact that a lot of them depend on me cause there is nobody else doing this. And when I have a customer who says something like, "I haven't worn makeup in 30 years cause I never had anything that really matched my skin tone. Then I say, "Okay, if I stop now then she's in trouble." So I think that's a big motivator. Also, I do feel like its really making a difference. I really have had customers who've said things like, "I've never had makeup that matched me." And its not anything. It's makeup. Its not like its anything extraordinary, life-saving or anything like that. But its something that's ordinary that women of color really can't have in the mass market. And as ordinary as it seems, when you don't have it, it becomes extraordinary. And so a lot of women who have deep brown skin don't have a lot of choices.
9) There are quite a few women seeking to do what you have done. What advice would you give them?
Well, I really think its important to figure out what you do well. And accept the fact that you can't do everything well. And allow other people to help you with that. That's really important. And its okay to ask for help but know that there are limits because you don't want to burn other people out when you're asking for help. And know your niche and be really clear about it and focus on that. Like I always have customers who call and say things like, "You know your customer service is great. And I love your products but when are you gonna do skincare?" That's a long-term goal. That really isn't my focus. That's not my specialty. And so, there a lot of other company's doing that. And I'm sure that they have fabulous products. And when I do decide that I'm ready to expand into skincare, it'll be great. But that's not it right now.
I'm carving out a niche in one area. I'm branding in one area. And that's my specialty. I think sometimes we lose focus. And we start to think we can be everything to everybody. And when we try to do that, you're no good to anybody. Cause you can't do everything. Just can't. So I think those are some things that are really important.
And learn from other people who have done it. support organizations that help support women like Make Mine A Million $ Business. It's an organization that helps women entrepreneurs who want to take their business to the multi-million dollar level. They have competitions. They teach you how to pitch if you want investors. And things like that. I'm not ready for that yet. But I'm registered with them so when I am ready, I'm already there. They have newsletters. They have a website. You can watch some of the video clips. Some of the presentations that other entrepreneurs have given that talk about how you can do that. And learn from these people. They've already made all the mistakes so they can tell you what they did wrong so that you don't have to repeat it. And that's where mentors are, too.
And when you wanna know how to do something, there are tons and tons of books where people are literally telling you what they did. People, in general, like to talk about themselves. And so..listen to em. Rich people always tell you how they made their money. They write books about it.
10) Is there anything new and exciting that we can expect from Valana Minerals in the future?
*chuckles* We're actually making a lot of changes. I haven't sent out the newsletter recently because I've been so... just running around like crazy with some of the new changes. But we're introducing some new eye colors and cheek colors. We are changing all of our eye shadow jars. We did a survey a few months ago and a lot of our customers asked for new jars. They wanted a bigger lid for their eye shadows. So we were able to do that.
I also have a big announcement but I'm not ready yet. I can't say anything yet. I don't have permission from the folks that I'm partnering with.
11) Is there anything you wanna add? Just off the cuff. Anything?
Hmm... don't give up. Failure is an opportunity to start something different. And know when to quit. There are times when you try something out and you keep plugging along putting your effort into it. Year after year after year. You have to also keep in mind that maybe this isn't a good idea and you just need to try something else. Know when to quit. It's not always a bad thing to say, "This isn't working. Let me try something different now." I don't think that equates to failure. I think that's a pretty smart thing to do. I think a lot of people think quitting equates to failure and it doesn't always.
This concludes my heroine entrepreneur interview with Valerie Reed of Valana Minerals. I hope that this has inspired, encouraged and/or enlightened you in some way.
I want to sincerely thank Valerie for taking the time out to allow me to interview her. I am grateful for the input and knowledge that you shared. I wish you continued and great success your future and in the future of Valana Minerals.
**The big announcement is that Valana Minerals will be carried in Whole Foods Market, beginning in Sugarland, TX. Go Valerie! Congrats to you and Valana Minerals!
It really warms my heart to see these heroines doing great things!**
You can purchase this 100% all-natural and vegan makeup at Valana Minerals.
**Picture of animated heroine "Shihouin Yoruichi" from the anime series Bleach.