Inspiration comes from many places, and in senior Erin Jung’s case, her passion for women’s cosmetics began at the age of 10 when she started watching beauty channels on Youtube. Currently, there are close to 82 million videos on YouTube, and while millions of people access Youtube every day, few have taken the initiative to start their own channel, and in Erin’s case, go beyond that by using it as a platform to start her own company.
“I was always interested in beauty products, and since I was in 6th grade, I felt that if other people were doing beauty videos, so could I,” Erin said.
Today, Erin’s beauty videos on her Youtube channel (BeautywithErin) that address seasonal cosmetic trends and document her personal beauty decisions (such as getting her triple forward helix piercing) have helped her gain 10,000 subscribers.
From her freshman year, Erin had always been attracted to the idea of using the school’s Senior Capstone Project (now known as the SAS Catalyst Project) as a stepping stone to launch her makeup career, but by junior year her urge to start the makeup line proved too strong to wait for senior year to come around.
“I didn’t want to wait, so during the last semester of my junior year I started setting up meetings with manufacturers and planned the designs and colors of my products. It all happened really fast and within one month, I had my first batch of products.”
Challenges and failures is something commonly known to any entrepreneur, and in this case, Erin was no exception. During an assembly in school regarding passion projects, Erin was encouraged to innovate and explore after it was mentioned the school had a small reserve of money to help fund students. With a proposal in hand, Erin approached Mr. Steigerwald, only to be turned down because the school could not support outside companies like hers that had a potential for profit.
Instead of letting that stop her, Erin used this challenge to motivate herself to achieve her goal, and after countless of hours working at the front desk of the W Hotel in Singapore, she saved up enough money to fund her first batch of products.
However, despite her successful initial funding, her second challenge was not far behind. “There was zero business planning. I just wanted the product and looking back at it, I jumped in too far. There was no plan and sales were not happening.”
Acknowledging this challenge, Erin spent the first semester of senior year in the Catalyst project focusing on research and development for her makeup to push it to another level.
Her idea for future products that were specifically derived from her own research was fuelled through the frustration of not finding suitable natural cosmetic products on the market.
In addition to developing naturally formulated cosmetic products, her focus on using her company as a platform to promote women’s empowerment by showing women in science was an important part of Erin’s endeavour. This was something Erin was aware of while creating her products, and it is something she will continue to work on.
Countless hours were spent on researching natural recipes for her products.
“I did all the research online and together with my mentor, I rearranged published formulas and substituted them with natural products, then tested it in Mr. Gaskell’s lab. By the end of the semester I had a bunch of formulas I was happy with.”
After a successful development process and Catalyst presentation, Erin turned her attention to second semester. Her new goal was not to make the same mistake she had previously made, and instead have a business plan for these new products. The brainstorming resulted in the decision to throw a launch party for her company to gain media attention and attract customers.
After collaborating with other beauty bloggers to plan her event, her launch party proved to be a success with over 30 different media outlets and magazines attending, from “Expat Living” to “Her World. “Sponsorship for food and drinks as well as the flower arrangements were all part of learning the business side of things. Overall it went really well and I am so happy with the result.”
Senior Maria Blasco, who attended the event, said, “I was honestly so impressed about how professional everything looked in the event and about the amount of people came – and her products are pretty awesome!
“I feel like someone who at our age, in high school, is determined and passionate enough to start a business is pretty incredible. She is very very hardworking and I really look up to her for having the courage and ambition to start her own business at such a young age.”
Fellow blogger Meera Navlakha agrees. “It’s really nice to see other people from SAS working towards their goals. Erin’s already accomplished so much with her beauty brand. I think it’s amazing to see how she translated her blog and YouTube channel into an actual set of products.”
Erin’s journey from an idea into products proves how age is just a number. She is an inspiration to many other students because she never allowed the challenges to steer her away from achieving her ultimate goals of creating her own makeup brand and spreading a message of women’s empowerment.