True to being a business woman, at the time of completing this interview, Connie was in Dubai working on the expansion of her brand. Known for being a line that accommodates the woman of colour, the eponymous Connie Transform, founded by Connie Bhebhe, is a lipstick line that has garnered great popularity on the interwebs. Below, we have a quick conversation with the maven behind the lipcolour brand known for its staying power…
Interviewer: Zimasa Mabuse
Connie, as an avid lipstick lover since the age of 18, one day while looking for a new lipcolour via google search, your site came up and after perusing for some time I knew I HAD to have you on TCC – the work you do is incredibly impressive! You are currently the founder of Connie Transform, a liquid lipstick and mink eyelash line that has risen quickly to popularity. Could you tell us where the motivation and fearlessness to launch your own line came from?
I didn’t set out to do anything in the cosmetic space, in fact I thought it pathetic and obvious that a beautiful girl would use her looks for profit and I always thought I’m too smart and I ought to do something much bigger with my mind than parade my looks.
I wanted to transform my look, I was tired of how I looked so I thought the easiest way would be to try out new makeup. I ordered some lipsticks from Anastasia Beverly hills and had them delivered at my friends apartment in Canada where I was visiting for a short while, after I received them only two out of five looked good on my skin so when I returned to Joburg I got to thinking. In a conversation with my cousin she joked that I should start my own line of lipstick shades that look good on women of colour… look who’s laughing now.
You have done a wonderful job in ensuring the distribution of your products. Presently, Connie Transform products are available in Canada, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. How did you go about the process of ensuring the availability of your products in so many jurisdictions?
Thank you. It’s not easy but it has always been the basis of my “business plan”. I’ve always wanted to build international brands. My fitness company Cobe Fit ships from RSA, UK and USA. As for Connie Transform, our growth into other countries has been 100% the effort of the women who reach out to us to distribute in their countries.
Now take us through the development process – what steps do you take when developing the formula for your lipsticks and glosses?
We haven’t changed the formula since starting. In the beginning I was linked with a chemist who is based in the US. We agreed on a fee for 6 formula’s, I liked the third one and went with that one. We’ve followed the same procedure with our eyeshadow pallet launching end of May 2017.
What major business lessons have come out of your time as an entrepreneur, that you wish you had known sooner?
I’ve learned to always go down the road less travelled, just as with Cobe – we produced and marketed fitness belts whilst others were riding the waist-trainer wave. Not only did we have to sell the belts but we also had to sell the concept of fitness. I’m not afraid of a challenge. I also have learned to hire the right people and subcontract where necessary which is difficult for me because I am a do-it-yourself kinda girl.
Advice for entrepreneurs entering the beauty sector?
Do something different, don’t just ‘follow Connie because Connie is doing lipsticks’. A new beauty entrepreneur would be more successful formulating and mastering a 50 shade range foundation that works for this climate than trying to compete with us on lipstick. Think bigger, Connie is not your bench mark, Fenty, MAC, Estee Lauder should be your bench mark.
The best self-marketing tool is… yourself on social media (using a good camera/camera phone)
A money lesson I wish I had learned in school is… focus on making money, not saving pennies
Worst money mistake… none, I’ve always spent my money on things I really want…perhaps I could cook more and eat out less
My favorite lipstick colour from my line is… I can’t decide. The most wearable are Babes & 1989 gloss (coming soon)
Africa needs… to manufacture and export
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