Kristen Elise Brown, Owner of Gold Label Cosmetics

I’ve always been an entrepreneur, even before I started Gold Label Cosmetics. Even when I was younger, I was making pens and selling them at church and school, and little bracelets. I’m pretty sure when I was at church the older women would be like, “Oh my God, here she comes. Hey, Girl, you selling something else today?”

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That’s always what I’ve been about. That’s how it began energy-wise. I have this list of companies I wanted to own, things I wanted to do, and places I wanted to go. One of them was living in New York, and another one of them was owning a cosmetic line.

I said to myself, “I can do it.” I was talking to someone and I was going off my list and they were like, “You have to pick one, you know. You can’t do everything all at once. [You’ll be a] jack of all trades and a master of none.”

So I said, “Okay, I can’t go on a private island right now and have a cosmetic line, that’s not going to happen. So, cosmetic line!”

Just start it. Stop talking about doing a bunch of things and take some action towards it.

I started off with four colors and then I expanded to five. I was working on this TV show called Born to Style! It was so much fun, but it was completely opposite of what I thought of beauty. There was a lot of eyeliner, lots of glitter, and lots of bam! The ladies that we styled on the show would be like, “I just got finished burying my husband, who had passed away from cancer and I haven’t been taking care of myself for so long. Now, I’m interested in doing the whole shebang. Come here and make me over!” It was such a different experience of beauty for me.

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That’s actually how I expanded the color line, the formula, and the packaging. It made me realize: that the “bam” isn’t all of what beauty is about. There are certain brands that can do that and that’s fine, but I don’t walk around like that.

That’s how I evolved the brand to pinks and deep, dark wines that are in your face, but gorgeous and subtle.

To be honest, there’s a lot of testing to create colors that look good on a range of complexions. And a lot of, like, opacity and undertone struggles. It as a lot of communication with the manufacturer. It’s a lot of talking with someone and butting heads a little bit and then getting to that point where you’re like, “okay, we can’t keep on fighting on this, we need to move on, or agree”.

What has it been like to be a Black woman creating a beauty line? In all honesty?

I think it’s an internal struggle because I don’t think that I’ve had any specific hardships with business more so than anybody else. But I wasn’t raised [to be] an entrepreneur. It was something innate, but it wasn’t something that my parents expressed concern for or made me find more avenues to breed. It was just something that I wanted to do, naturally. I’ve always had the passion for entrepreneurship, but [I always thought], how do I turn it into a real business? Like, okay, I need to file my LLC. Great. Have to file all these forms. Being proactive and handling the appropriate amount of business can be a struggle because I like the creative part more. But I have to be in control of my business, so I do it.

Your personal life changes too. After getting to a certain point financially with Gold Label Cosmetics, I did lose some friends. And sad enough … they were greedy. Then there were people who had to adjust to my time schedule because I can no longer stay up and text with you all night or throughout the day.

I can’t spend three hours on the phone like I used to with my best friend and it sucks in the beginning because you feel guilty for not doing what you were able to do when you were working for somebody else. But, when you’re working for yourself you don’t have that time.

That’s the kind energy that you need to go about your business because if you don’t, then no one else is going to.

It feels good to see the Black girl magic movement killing the game, especially in business. I think that we’re so supportive of each other right now. I think that we’re getting more and more powerful; there’s so many black women running businesses that we’re just like, “Yes!” I’m getting a lot of love from the movement. Sometimes I’ll look at our comments section and it’s a brown girl telling another brown girl to check our brand out. That feels like everything.

Follow Gold Label Cosmetics on Instagram.

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