Episode 19: Danielle Vincent, Founder of Kimiko Beauty

Meet Danielle Vincent, makeup artist, and founder of Kimiko Beauty. Listen as she talks about growing up as a figure skater, and how to be patient in the process of building a beauty brand.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty, hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzHey Everyone. Today we are joined by Danielle Vincent. She is a makeup artist and founder of Kimiko Beauty. Hi Danielle.
Danielle VincentHi Jodi, how are you?
Jodi KatzI'm great. I'm so glad that you're here. Welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty.
Danielle VincentThank you. I just have to make sure [crosstalk 00:00:32] ...
Jodi KatzOur listeners ... Oh, we're so excited. Our listeners are super curious about the clear path and journeys of execs and entrepreneurs in the beauty industry. They are craving those on the [inaudible 00:00:44] stories because it helps them move forward in their own careers. You have such an interesting story to share.
I'd love it if we could start in the very beginning to when you were a competitive figure skater as a child. Tell us about that.
Danielle VincentSure. I grew up figure skating on the ice in Canada, which I think is not that uncommon. You know, it was real interesting, I think I had a knack for it from the beginning, and then I went on that very competitive path from quite a young age. It was intense. It was one of those sports where you train. You're on the ice six days a week. As I progressed through the sport, that turned into time in the weight room and dance classes, on ice choreography. It was really wonderful in so many ways, but quite an intense sport.
I do think doing that kind of competitive thing when you're young builds some interesting connections in the brain and also some pretty in-depth understanding about yourself as a person, and how you work under pressure, handling a lot of pressure.
Essentially the way it works when you're training as a skater is, you go through your different levels and you achieve your single jumps, your double jumps, your triple jumps. I was a senior competitive figure skater. It's the highest amateur level that you can compete at. Essentially you're training all year long for your initial trial to go through to Nationals. That's your two and a half minute program and your four minute program. The whole year's training comes down to essentially those four minutes. It's pretty intense.
Jodi KatzYeah, it's so much pressure.
Danielle VincentIt is a lot of pressure. You know, I think you have to enjoy that part of it. I did, but I also think it served me so much later in life, and in being an entrepreneur in terms of time management, discipline, and really that internal battle of this is difficult physically and mentally and how do I move forward and persevere and succeed by my own definition of success.
Jodi KatzYeah. I would think that you would learn early on that ... Have a long term view, as opposed to short term view. To think long term about everything. I would imagine it would help you in business development, in seeing your vision come to life. That you would have to ... You do have to wait. You have to wait to get that whatever you're looking for versus immediate gratification, which you would not have. You're working all year for one thing.
Danielle VincentYeah, that's true. It's true. It's a lesson in patience. I think also in the realization that not every day is a step forward. You may have a day where you land and you jump for the first time. You feel like, "Oh, I took five steps forward." Then the next day, for whatever reason, physically, mentally, you're not on point and you're missing things that you have been doing for months consistently.
It's how do you take those setbacks and still leap forward and look at the bigger picture and celebrate the wins. Just keep going on a potentially slow moving, but positive trajectory.
Jodi KatzWell it all sounds so much like the coaching that I need for growing my business. I can see why it would be very valuable later in life. Tell us about making a transition to makeup artist. When and how did that happen?
Danielle VincentYeah, it's funny, I didn't have too many entrepreneurs in my life, but I knew just at a young age that it would be "cool" to have a makeup line. I was always obsessed with roaming the drugstores and looking at the isles and reading ingredients.
I'm one of those self proclaimed beauty junkies. When I was early teens, I was looking at sunscreens and already doing non-chemical broad spectrum every day. I loved that side of it, like what's in the product? Do I like how it feels? I had, I don't know what ... 13 year old ... Maybe now because it's a lot more of an exposed beauty world, but I had just drawers and shelves full of product. It was definitely already a love.
It was kind of an interesting transition. Just sheer luck, there was someone in my hometown who had started a perfume line. My father knew someone in her family and introduced us. They were expanding their brand offerings and they needed someone to help with their perfume line. It was one of those indie perfume brands that had blown out in Sephora.
I essentially met with my former partner and she loved what I had to say. I jumped in at a really young age. It was a very serendipitous thing, but I also sought her out. I was following her story. I sent an email saying, "Here are my ideas. I love the industry." It progressed from there, from that initial conversation.
Jodi KatzYou actually created intention when you were reaching out to her. You already felt the passion for the brand by the time it was ...
Danielle VincentAbsolutely.
Jodi KatzAn opportunity to meet with her.
Danielle VincentYeah, I had been following them. It was really interesting. I'm from a smaller town. It was known that this is sort of ... First of all she was female. I thought that was great. I was just excited at how well this was doing on a North American level.
I wrote, and I was very transparent. I said, "Here are some of my ideas. I love what you've done." She shared a lot with me and that turned into a meeting, which also turned out to be interesting. In my early twenties, just with my knowledge of product and brand, had echoed what she had just been told by the CEO of the big retailer a day or two before. It was interesting timing. I think she felt like I had the guts and the intuition for the industry. It went from there essentially.
Jodi KatzThat's so cool. Well you certainly have the guts because you started your own brand 10 years ago. Can you tell us about Kimiko? What is the brand about?
Danielle VincentSure. I had worked for a lot of the big brands and counters. I knew something was missing. I had been developing perfume and working on that side. But, really my passion was color cosmetics. As with anything, there was so much out there and I wanted it to be purposeful.
I had this light bulb moment. I had a client. We just done her make up. She, as with so many clients, would sit in the chair. They share their insecurities. She particularly, as they all can say, her under-eyes were her area of concern. She was like, "It's too bad that after the end of the day all of this is going to wash down the drain. I'm left with what I didn't like in the first place."
This light bulb went off and I thought, if we target applying concealer, shouldn't that concealer treat the under-eye like a night cream? If we're applying foundation or a tinted moisturizer, shouldn't that do everything we need to do for our skin? Essentially at the end of the day, when you wash off your makeup, you skin thanks you. It's better for having worn it versus the opposite, which is how we've always traditionally thought of makeup, as harmful for the skin.
Jodi KatzI'm imagining in my head right now a picture that a friend sent me of one of his friends who is a Broadway Actor, Broadway Performer. It was a time lapse video of her getting her stage makeup on. It's like I can't imagine that her skin is really any better for having that makeup on. I'm sure it's suffocating under all that stage makeup.
That's a really interesting and very timely approach that we're caring for our skin by putting it on. We always used to think that putting it on was actually junking up our skin and making things more complicated, like acne and rosacea and other conditions.
Danielle VincentYes, absolutely. At that time, I think it was about a two and a half, three year development process. Everything in the line was custom developed. I brought in ingredients that had not been used in color before. Our cosmetic chemists were like, "Hmm, you want three percent of this, five percent of that?"
I really wanted applications product. I wanted it to look like skin and feel natural and look natural. My philosophy as a makeup artist is that, less is more. There's a way to enhance without detracting from someone's natural beauty.
That's how it started. It was curated. I knew there was so much out there. Every item has its own story. It has a simplicity in packaging, yet there's a duality to it. If there's a mirror that opens, and you can flip it without opening it and still use the mirror. Everything has a little tool on the end. I love this idea of just the items you need and doing everything you need with a curated set of stuff where you love each piece.
Jodi KatzYou've had this business for 10 years and I'm thinking about what you told me before about being a figure skater. It's like processing patience. Constant patience in 10 years is a long time in our fast fashion beauty world now. What's been the hardest, in terms of practicing patience in the growth of your brand?
Danielle VincentIt's a good question. 10 years is a lot of time. It also flies by very quickly. I think challenges that I've faced ... I think being a sole entrepreneur is very different than going into business with a partner, where you have a constant person to bounce off of. I think that's been interesting.
From an investor's standpoint they typically like to see partners because it allows them to feel more comfortable that if this person is missing these skills, well this other person probably complements it. That's been interesting.
I think in terms of product development, that's never been an issue for me, in terms of innovation. That's how my brain works. I come up with ideas in my sleep and I keep a notepad by my bed.
I also think that the timeline, as long as it feels in this "fast fashion," as you say, sense, is actually not that long for beauty. The way that I started with a friend's family [inaudible 00:12:11], it didn't allow for us to scale immediately.
What I ended up doing is establishing the brand in a much more organic, slow moving but very thoughtful way. Instead of throwing everything against a wall and seeing what would stick, it was really about moving forward thoughtfully, choosing retail partners who really were excited and got the brand. There's many ways to do it, for sure. For us it was more of this slow and organic approach.
Jodi KatzI love the idea of brands taking their time. We don't hear that often. We hear about moving forward faster, more, more, more, faster, faster, faster. We don't really come across a lot of brands that are willing to be, I guess, more thoughtful and more patient. It's definitely a differentiation for you.
In terms of moving forward, which we all do need to do eventually, you told me that you're in the process of looking for investors to help grow the business at this point. Tell us about that process and what you're learning along the way.
Danielle VincentYeah, you know I think it's something every business founder/entrepreneur does have to face at some point. I think of milestones in the business when I first launched the brand and we shook hands with our first retailer Takashimaya on Fifth Avenue in New York. It was like, "Okay, this is happening." You get that feeling in your gut. It's exciting.
I think the next phase for us is definitely bringing in a strategic investor or investors who can help take it to the next level. There's so much support that has to be done in a beauty brand and for product support across your retailers coast to coast, and of course, then internationally. It just requires that.
For me, this next phase is interesting. I've learned a lot about pitching. I also make a point of listening to podcasts where I can hear from other people who have done it and pick up on little pieces.
One that I love is called, Masters of Scale. They interview great brand founders of companies that we know in our everyday lives. I think seeking information, researching, this is what we have to do as entrepreneurs. If you haven't done it before, it's just like starting a business. You get out there. You learn everything you can about it. Then you go forwards.
Jodi KatzThat's awesome. Shifting gears a little bit ... Tell us what it means to be an eyebrow expert.
Danielle VincentYou know, our best selling product is our Japanese Eyebrow Pencil. I didn't intend for that to be our best seller when I started the line, but you follow that lead. Yes, I'm a makeup artist but I do a lot of eyebrows. It's timely, of course. We're inundated with brows in general, on social and online.
Jodi KatzWhat is it like being a brow person?
Danielle VincentYou know it's really fun. It's one of those things where, when someone comes to see me for a session, it's similar to when they're in the makeup chair. We talk. There's a connection. We talk about what matters to them. We get a little bit into, what do you not like? Where do we want to go? It's almost like a mini therapy session, yet I know we're just doing eyebrows.
It's fun. It's one of those transformational things. We could spend half an hour and that person can come out feeling like, "Woah, I feel like a whole new person." Proper eyebrow product placement can even make your brow look like you got a little lift. It's really reviving.
A lot of the time too, we end up talking about really personal stuff. It feels like everyone got a little therapy session. There's something intimate about working with someone's face. You really do connect. It's nice.
Jodi KatzYeah, I found that when ... I'm not a makeup artist, but I'm around makeup artists and their subjects quite a bit. It does seem like, no matter who it is, when someone sits in that chair they're really willing to be free with their insecurities and free with what's on their mind, in a way that in our everyday life, as we live through everyday life and meet people. Once that butt hits the chair, it's like, "I'm going to tell you everything that's one my mind."
Danielle VincentYeah, it's true.
Jodi KatzIt is true. It's what happens in therapy. It's like, okay, eyebrows, nose, lips, cheeks, whatever. These people do it to hair stylists as well. It's really an amazing opportunity to get insights in a way that the person in the chair thinks, how they feel, how to find a pathway to trust with them. People are really willing to be so revealing. It's pretty awesome.
Danielle VincentYes. It's really great. I actually love that part about my job. There's so many different hats that I wear. I only have a certain amount of time allotted for that. But, when I do get those days ... About once a month I do several days.
It's renewing in a sense. It reminds me of why I started this. It's really about, how do you take that personal experience, that feeling of positivity, that I love to give my clients about themselves, and how does that translate to a brand, even through our product and through the experience with the products. I'm [inaudible 00:17:49]. It's just a really nice bit of feet on the ground touchpoint.
Jodi KatzIt's also often because you have a true focus group every single time you sit with clients, understanding what's working for them, what their need are, how their needs are currently being filled, or how they're not being filled. It's as good an insight as you could possibly create.
Danielle VincentYeah it's true. I do ask a lot of questions. Just casually, but it's the perfect environment to get that kind of feedback, or even find what's missing, or what people are struggling with. That helps me even with my product development and thinking about how to innovate and how to do something differently than how it's been done currently.
Jodi KatzMy last question for our episode, it's a little bit of a tangent. Aside from financial goals, what is your barometer for success?
Danielle VincentGreat question. Very good question. You know, it's essentially why we do the things we do. I'm going in many directions in my mind. Give me a second.
You know, I think for me personally, I am one of those people where I'm never satisfied with what's been achieved. For anyone who is on a path creating something, trying to do something that brings positivity, whether it's in a product, or a service, to other people, I think any step in that direction is a success. I think we also ... I know I do this. I don't take enough time to pat my own back and say, "Look, look what you've done. Look how many people love this brand. It resonates."
There's already success, but I think there's an underpinning or there's a feeling that entrepreneurs have where you don't really stop until you get to that next level. I think there has been success. You say, "Okay, great, I've done this." You give yourself a pat on the back, and then you keep going towards your next goals.
For me, there's no greater feeling than having someone say, "Oh my gosh, I know that line. I use it. I love it. This is so awesome." It means I've made something that's made their day easier or uplifted them for a quick moment in the morning when they've done their makeup. Those moments are success to me.
Jodi KatzThat's really beautiful.
Danielle Vincent[crosstalk 00:20:34] Thanks Jodi.
Jodi KatzFor me success is having a few days during a workweek where I really feel the balance that I seek. There's some days really[inaudible 00:20:46] down where there's just fast and furious. Then there's other days where I can say I have very simple needs.
I'm just looking for some serenity. Put money in my pocket, do great work with fun people, and have some serenity. It's like those days where I can go to the gym. Maybe I stop into Trader Joe's. I work at my desk but I have time for a proper lunch. Maybe meet up with a friend. Just have that sense of pure balance, the best that I possibly can.
Danielle VincentI love that.
Jodi KatzThat's my one step at a time. That's success for me.
Danielle VincentNo, I love that. I think that's beautifully put. We're all seeking that balance. Of course, running a business, as you do, as I do, it can be all consuming. I think, like you said ... It's interesting that you talk about whole foods and diet.
That's another thing that came from training as an athlete. You can't perform if you don't take care of yourself. I think for entrepreneurs, that's the same thing especially when you're leading the company. If you're not exercising, feeding yourself well, taking care of yourself, then you can't run the ship. That's an amazing point. It is all about that balance.
Jodi KatzIt's interesting you bring that up because in many episodes on the podcast series, entrepreneurs have been really honest with us about how they don't take care of themselves. They don't make time to eat. Then they'll eat at 10:00 at night and shovel food in their face because they're starving. They're not exercising or they're not seeing their friends. They're not seeing the light of day. There's a cost to that, of course.
This is a judgment free zone podcast. There's a struggle. It's hard. It's hard to tear yourself away from the seduction of growing the business to do basic things like eat or exercise.
Danielle VincentYeah.
Jodi KatzThere's a skill in finding a way to do that.
Danielle VincentYes, I totally agree. I think things that about me is ... First off, Amazon Fresh Delivery it's life changing. As you know, in New York, battling the Whole Foods crowds and schlepping home with bags of groceries is not easy. That's an amazing way you make sure you always are prepared.
Just scheduling stuff in ... It's one thing to have intentions to go a workout class or to the gym. If it's not on the schedule, inevitably, there's a fire to put out and something will sidetrack that. [crosstalk 00:23:23]
Jodi KatzI focus on those really small, simple, one step at a time tasks. When I do that and I can actually accomplish those things, I feel so thrilled. It's the most simple pleasure.
Danielle VincentYeah, totally.
Jodi Katz[crosstalk 00:23:41] moving forward.
Danielle VincentYup, absolutely because you're in peak mental and physical form. It just allows you to focus in a different way. I'm not a huge believer of pushing yourself to your limit and not sleeping. There are moments where that has to happen when there are deadlines to meet and there's a lot going on. But, you can't perform your best.
Why not put in great hours versus many hours that are sleep deprived and mentally or physically not at peak. I think there's a way of working hard but smart. It's not all about the hard work, it's about working intelligently.
Jodi KatzRight. That's really interesting. Wow. Well Danielle, we've run out of time. I just want to say thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with me and our listeners. This has been incredible.
Danielle VincentThank you Jodi, such a pleasure.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to Where Brains Meet Beauty with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

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