Lisa Price named her company Carol's Daughter after making a list of things she was and the things she wanted to become. Being Carol's—her mother's—daughter was a positive affirmation to her that helped drive her business from flea-market tables to a store in Brooklyn to its current place as a powerhouse in the beauty field. (You can learn more about how Price landed a lucrative deal with the Home Shopping Network). At Thursday's Inc. Women's Summit, one of the unique things that Price brought to the conversation was the celebrity attraction of her brand. Carol's Daughter has benefited from not just endorsement but celebrity investment from entertainment powerhouses Will and Jada Smith, Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige. Howard Greenstein spoke with her about building her brand and gaining notoriety by tapping celebrity fans' star-power.
How do you find celebrities who are interested in your business?
When our business was smaller, I had access to celebrities through make-up artists and stylists. We did a lot of gifting and got our products used. Once we got these relationships with the celebs, we were able to reach them through their stylists for quotes and comments in press. In 2005 celebrity investors joined the brand. (Will Smith was introduced to Carol's Daughter via "Jazzy" Jeff Townes. Price said she's never met Jeff but is grateful for how he connected them. Price and Jay-Z are from the same Brooklyn neighborhood, and he learned about the brand from his mother. Blige found the company via a friend who used their browning oil on the beach.)
How is it different working with celebrities?
Investors are different that spokespeople—they're there to be your support. We have paid beauty spokespeople like Cassie and Solange Knowles. Spokespeople have to make sense with our brand—we have such an authentic and real voice, so the connection between them and the brand has to be very clear to our audience. Investors are different.
How do you handle celebrity investors?
It's important for you to have an appreciation of the person, what they do and what they bring to the table for you. You have to know the ROI of the relationship for both sides. At end of the day, if it doesn't make financial sense for you, it doesn't make sense to do it. For example, if you're going to plan an event and you want a celebrity, remember what comes with that—plane, security, cars, hotel, and the works. Does it make sense for you to do that? Or should you just have them be a guest on the Home Shopping Network, where you pay for the same stuff but everyone gets more bang for the buck?
This interview has been edited and condensed.