We sat down with Tina Hedges, founder and CEO at LOLI Beauty, a modern, luxurious and accessible approach to a natural beauty kitchen offering the purest organic ingredients blended by you at home, or for you at pop-up blending bars. Tina discusses the personal journey that led her to launch LOLI, being inspired while strolling along the aisles at a large beauty chain and creating a brand that's resonating with so many.

Project Entrepreneur: What inspired you to start your business?

Hedges: After spending years traveling the globe frenetically for work, I frankly didn't feel like I was at my best--physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. After a lot of "personal detective" work, I started to connect the dots between all the chemicals I'd been slathering on my skin for decades and less-than-optimal health. I'd spent the first big chunk of my career developing products for the world's biggest beauty companies--and of course testing them on myself--and it took its toll. I needed and wanted pure, "living organic" options. I was juicing, cupping and detoxing ages before they were a popular phenomenon and going back to my Cuban-Jamaican roots to whip up natural beauty recipes at home.

One day, circa 2013, while I was walking through Sephora and scanning row after row of argan oils--and sipping a $15 green juice at the same time--I had a classic "aha" moment. I asked myself: "Why can't women shop for beauty in the same way we shop for food?" In the Whole Foods era, ingredient traceability, pipeline-transparency, freshness and personalization/customization are the norm. It just made perfect sense that that same "shopping ease" should be readily available in beauty.

What's been the biggest challenge you've faced so far?
The biggest challenge I've faced so far is transitioning from a "great idea" to a financed business venture. Sometimes it's easier to get funding for a "back of napkin" concept than one that has already demonstrated proof of concept with customer traction but is still in the early stage in terms of revenue.

For LOLI, the pivotal moment--the moment we climbed out of the quicksand of being more than a concept but not yet a self-sustaining business--was when we got our first and lead investor. Then everything became so much easier and other investors followed.

What's been the greatest reward?
I love making a difference in our customers' lives, helping them to find a moment of what we call "beauty happiness" via organic beauty, custom-blended. Pure, potent, personalized beauty has struck a chord. Especially for the younger market, which is clamoring for options and newness in this category. While 60 percent of total U.S. Millennials purchase food-grade ingredients to make beauty products at home because they're more natural, 73 percent of total US. Millennial women seek out cleaner, all-natural products. That's huge.

What is the biggest thing you'd like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
Clearly, there is growing interest in DIY--or what we call BIY (Blend It Yourself) beauty. According to Google Beauty Trends 2017, "searches that specifically include the term 'DIY' are growing by 38 percent.

And sometimes, that level of interest in DIY beauty can generate some really wacky and unsafe ideas--from Pepto Bismol and gelatin face masks to Elmer's Glue blackhead-removal. I call this extreme pocket of DIY "the wild west of beauty." It's uncharted territory with no horizon in sight. And with LOLI, we want to give our customers the ability to experiment and customize their own fresh, food-grade skin, body, hair and bath products efficiently and purposefully with peace of mind.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to another entrepreneur just starting out?
Being an entrepreneur isn't about the glamor or the golden opportunity that may or may not happen. It's a vocation, not a job. You have to want to will your idea into being as if your life depended upon it, and you have to enjoy every moment. Well maybe you won't enjoy the scary, unforeseen challenges and plot twists, but you have to be able to at least see the value in them. If that's not your jam, don't even think about it.

What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week?
I wish I could say I had a steadfast routine, but we're still in a very nascent stage which means every week brings a fresh set of challenges. I do start every day with a friend who calls at 7:15 a.m. and we meditate and pray for 20 minutes each morning to ground ourselves. I'll pick a few cards from one of my angel or spirit guide decks and off we go. This practice helps me to stay in the flow and begin knowing that the universe is supporting me and LOLI. The messages are always so on point.

This article originally appeared on the Project Entrepreneur website and has been condensed for clarity.

Published on: Sep 8, 2017
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