Things changed for Joi during the COVID-19 pandemic because she, like many other beauty professionals, couldn't see her clients face-to-face. Instead, she developed a 60-second brow kit so that anyone could do their brows from the comfort of their home. This unexpectedly kick-started her e-commerce fulfillment process in a way that was both exciting and overwhelming. Thanks to Warehouse Anywhere's e-commerce fulfillment center in Atlanta, The Look By Joi was able to survive the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and launch a brand new income stream for the business.
We sat down with Joi to learn more about her impressive beginnings as a teenage entrepreneur and how she became the cosmetics mogul she is today. She also explains how Warehouse Anywhere changed the way she does business.
When did you first become passionate about make-up and eyebrow maintenance?
I first got started in cosmetics maybe when I was around 13 or 14 years old. My friend's mother owned the salon and I used to work with her on the weekends. One day, my mom and I went to a different salon to get my eyebrows done. The lady took forever, but she was good. My Mom was losing her patience and said, “If you stay and wait, you're going to have to walk home.” I didn't think she really was going to leave me there, but she did. When my eyebrows were done, I had to walk from one end of town to the other. When I got home, my Mom said, “You could learn to do that yourself.” I said, “You think so?” Then, she handed me a razor and said, “Follow the pattern when it grows in and you will learn how to arch your eyebrows.” So I did, and two weeks later, my friend approached me and said, “Your eyebrows are so good. Can you do mine like that?” Needless to say, she was my first customer, and we're still friends to this day.
When did your career first start to take off?
When I decided to go to college for nursing, eyebrows were my hustle. My friend and I turned my dorm room into a brow counter. She would answer calls and book appointments like a receptionist. If you brought your own razor to your appointment, it was five dollars, and if we used our own razors it was seven dollars. That's when I really started to understand what it was like to be an eyebrow professional. I decided nursing wasn't for me and started working at a cosmetics counter in the mall. A young woman who worked at a salon nearby noticed my talent and asked if I would become her assistant, and I said yes. She taught me a lot about eyebrows and the freelance world. Eventually, I started working in the salon by myself and building my clientele. Then, someone approached me and asked if I would like to open my own make-up and eyebrow counter, and I said yes. So by the time I was 21, I had my own make-up counter.
When did you begin to sell products?
When I opened my first make-up counter, I started selling products right away. I knew that unless I wanted to be stuck behind the counter forever, I would need to sell products to build residual income. This helped set me apart from the competition. When I would do make-up for big magazine photoshoots, I would stay long after the other make-up artists left so that I could sell the models my products. I would sell lipsticks and everything to do with eyebrows: brow powders, highlighters, scissors, tweezers, etc. I would fly back and forth from China to do product development for myself and for my clients who are also in the cosmetics industry.
What lessons have you learned by working in the cosmetics industry for over 18 years?
My success in the industry is due to my ability to pivot. Like with every industry, every three or four years, things change. I'm always a student. I'm always going to trade shows. I'm always learning about new things. I've always changed my business model to keep up with the times. Now with COVID-19, my business has shifted focus to teaching other people how to do their own brows. That's when I created the 60-second brow kit. Now, people who are stuck at home but still want to look nice on their zoom calls can do their brows at home.
How else has COVID-19 affected your business?
Before COVID-19 started, I was shipping products, but I wasn't shipping that many. I always talked about pushing more product sales, but I never really made the time for it until I was forced to. When I was stuck at home during quarantine, I started doing demos on social media, emailing and text messaging my clients and pushing people to buy my products at every chance I got. I went from shipping 3 or 4 products every so often to selling 30-40 products at a time. Shipping and packaging became overwhelming, so I started working with a fulfillment center, but they were horrible. They broke over $5,000 worth of products and were shipping the wrong products in the wrong envelope. It was a horrible experience. So I needed to find somebody to actually help me streamline the shipping process.
How did you come across Warehouse Anywhere?
My assistant saw how frustrated I was and she was like, "I'm going to find you someplace that can actually do the fulfillment for you." It wasn't working out with my staff doing it, it wasn't working out with the other fulfillment centers, and I really just didn't have the time. So, she googled Warehouse Anywhere. It was so convenient because they were right in my city. They were so kind, welcoming, and they had a real streamlined process so I said, “let's go with it.”
How has Warehouse Anywhere helped grow your business?
Warehouse Anywhere has really, really helped grow my business. Packing and shipping have been taken completely off of my plate, which has given me 25% of my time back for the rest of my business. Now, I can use that time to focus on marketing and training my staff.
What direct benefits have you seen since you've started partnering with Warehouse Anywhere?
Since I started my partnership with Warehouse Anywhere, I got my time back and I got my reputation back (with fulfilling orders on time). My customers love that. I don't have to worry about them saying, "Hey, where's my order?" when I'm out of town and I know I can't ship it. It just takes all the pressure off of me and it makes me look good. It was what I was always looking for and I really appreciate it.