Episode 86: Alexandra Bradberry and Leiah Scheibel, Founders of The Sparkle Bar

Meet the duo behind The Sparkle Bar, Arizona’s first full-service makeup studio, Alexandra Bradberry and Leiah Scheibel. They’ve thrown away the rule book and created a space that’s inclusive, pressure-free and most of all fun. But before they could even start, they had one big hurdle to clear: An archaic state law that essentially made their dream business illegal. In this episode, hear how they resisted and why it’s important a place like theirs exists.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® hosted by Jodi Katz, Founder and Creative Director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzHey everybody, welcome back to another episode. I am so happy to be joined by Alex Bradberry and Leiah Scheibel, Founders of The Sparkle Bar. Welcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY®.
Alex BradberryYay, thank you for having us.
Leiah ScheibelYay.
Jodi KatzI am so excited that you're here, and you're visiting from-
Alex BradberryArizona.
Leiah Scheibel Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzSo you spent a few days in New York.
Alex BradberryYeah.
Leiah Scheibel About half.
Alex Bradberry[crosstalk 00:00:57] hours.
Leiah Scheibel [crosstalk 00:00:58] half a day.
Jodi KatzWait, really?
Alex BradberryYes.
Jodi KatzGive me the whole itinerary.
Leiah Scheibel Well, we came in at 7:00 a.m. yesterday, or 8:00, I think is when we arrived.
Alex BradberryYes, we took the red eye from Arizona on Sunday night. We were here all day yesterday. We were tourists, we took the city bikes, went around Central Park, ate up the food, drank coffee, drank wine, and then now we're here, and we take off in a couple hours.
Jodi KatzYay, but you're here to see us.
Alex BradberryYes.
Leiah Scheibel Yes.
Alex BradberryJust to see you guys.
Jodi KatzThis is so cool. So I want to give our listeners a little background on how we met. We met over Instagram.
Alex BradberryGotta love Instagram, right?
Jodi KatzSometimes I find I hate social media, but then sometimes I love it, and it's for this reason that I love it that we were able to build a relationship with you and get super curious about the business that you're building just by seeing on Instagram. That's where magic can happen.
Alex BradberryTotally agree. Love Instagram.
Jodi KatzHave you made other friends like this over Instagram?
Alex BradberryI think we meet most of the people-
Leiah Scheibel Most people.
Alex BradberryThat we work with, and have the opportunity to meet via Instagram, which is very cool. Sometimes it's funny because we don't know, "Do I know you in real life? Or is it just because I follow you on Instagram?"
Leiah Scheibel Just ... Yeah, [crosstalk 00:02:00]-
Alex BradberryEither way, I am happy to see your kids are doing well, and did a great trip and it's awesome.
Jodi KatzAll right, so tell us -and we'll start with you Leiah - tell us what The Sparkle Bar is all about.
Leiah Scheibel So The Sparkle Bar is a beautiful space where anyone, regardless of skin tone, type, age, texture, gender, can come get their makeup done, feel really, really confident, and leave feeling educated as well.
Jodi KatzAnd Alex, why did you start this business?
Alex BradberryI'm like our target consumer, I feel. There wasn't a space where women could go. And I, being a woman of color, always found challenges in finding makeup artists who knew how to work with my skin tone, and my type and my texture. So we decided to create a space that was very inclusive to everyone so that anyone could come in and know that they're going to get an amazing application without being pressured to buy anything from a team of artists who are well-versed in everyone. So I feel good about it.
Jodi KatzHow many years has it been?
Alex BradberryWe're going to turn three on the 24th actually.
Jodi KatzGreat.
Alex BradberryIt's near the 24th now.
Jodi KatzYeah, in just a few days.
Alex BradberryMm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzOkay, and is The Sparkle Bar your full-time jobs, or is it still a side hustle for both of you?
Leiah Scheibel It's my full-time job.
Alex Bradberry[inaudible 00:03:04]
Leiah Scheibel Yeah.
Alex BradberryMy side hustle.
Leiah Scheibel Alex has two full-time jobs.
Alex BradberryI do.
Jodi KatzYour equal weight side hustle.
Alex BradberryRight.
Jodi KatzWhich becomes the side hustle, your original job or this job?
Alex BradberryMy original job actually. I'm on the auto pilot over there, so it makes it possible for me to be very engaged here, but it's not easy.
Jodi KatzDoes your old job know that they're the side hustle now?
Alex BradberryYes, I think so.
Jodi KatzMm-hmm (affirmative).
Alex BradberryMm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzAnd they've come to terms with it?
Alex BradberryI think it's the idea, you want to see people grow and be happy, and so I feel very supported by my current company and I'm happy that I'm there, but I'm ready to take the next step.
Jodi KatzOkay, so let's dip our toe into life as an entrepreneur in Arizona around beauty. I want to start with this archaic law situation that you found yourself faced with. In Arizona, there was a law that said what?
Leiah Scheibel So that you, unless for the purpose of demonstration, could not sell your service as an artist. In addition to that, there was no place that you could just go and get your makeup done, so it was a salon setting. In addition to having to be licensed, we also had to have shampoo bowls and things like that, that we would never utilize.
Alex BradberryTotally unrelated to our business. It was just a very ... Women weren't getting their hair blown years ago, they are [inaudible 00:04:20], I'm sorry, today. They weren't getting their makeup done for events and social outings, so we just cleared up any gray area that existed previous to us changing the law. And that law does exist in, I think, every state [crosstalk 00:04:33].
Jodi KatzOkay, so you wanted to create this place where makeup artists could put makeup on people and make them feel good and get them ready for whatever they're moving on to, and not have a hair salon, and not have other services.
Alex BradberryRight.
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Jodi KatzBut the law in Arizona said, no you can't do this.
Leiah Scheibel Correct.
Alex BradberryRight.
Jodi KatzWhat did you have to do to move the law forward, to be able to do what you're doing now?
Alex BradberryWe worked with a law firm, The Institute for Justice, and they were the ones who actually helped us craft the legal language and then [inaudible 00:05:01] as lobbyists and get our sponsoring senators in place so that we could get this law changed or amended.
Jodi KatzAnd it has been amended?
Alex BradberryYes.
Leiah Scheibel Yes.
Jodi KatzAll right. So how many weeks, years, of work did it take to make this happen?
Leiah Scheibel So legislation is actually only in session for three months, and we found out, I would say, two to three months prior to legislation's opening. So six months.
Jodi KatzWow. So it took you six months to even just able to put product on people's faces?
Alex BradberryRight.
Jodi KatzI would imagine that a lot of entrepreneurs that are faced with this situation would have said, "Forget it. I'm not even going to bother. This is too expensive. Too hard. I'm not a lawyer. I don't know people in the state government." But why did you guys push through it?
Leiah Scheibel At that moment, I don't think that we saw it as anything different than we need to find a space, we need to hire employees. It was just the next step in our-
Alex BradberryOur checklist.
Leiah Scheibel In our checklist.
Jodi KatzBut you see how daunting that sounds, right?
Leiah Scheibel Of course. Oh, yes.
Alex BradberryWell so they told us that we couldn't do it, and we were like, "Well then, what do we do next? How do we fix that?" Because that's a silly rule. I think because we just had such conviction about it being archaic and unnecessary, that we decided to just proceed forward. I think in retrospect, it might have scared us a little bit more than it actually did. So, blind faith, I guess.
Jodi KatzRight. And you had the support from the groups. You didn't actually have to pay any legal bills?
Alex BradberryCorrect.
Leiah Scheibel Correct.
Alex BradberryThe Institute for Justice.
Jodi KatzThat's huge.
Alex BradberryThat is amazing.
Jodi KatzHow did you make that happen?
Alex BradberryWe've been very fortunate to tap into the resources that are available to us, and met some really incredible people who have helped us. Alisha [Marcais 00:06:34], shot out to her-
Leiah Scheibel She's awesome.
Alex BradberryWho was the person who put us in touch with IJ, and they had previously helped- her name is Essence, a natural hair braider in Arizona- with a very similar situation.
Jodi KatzMm-hmm (affirmative). Does the change in law affect everybody in Arizona, or just your county?
Leiah Scheibel Everyone in Arizona.
Alex BradberryEveryone in Arizona. The entire state.
Jodi KatzOkay, so [crosstalk 00:06:53] entrepreneurs in beauty across Arizona.
Alex BradberryAcross the state.
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Jodi KatzDo beauty entrepreneurs know that about you?
Leiah Scheibel Yes.
Alex BradberryI think a lot do, many do. We've received a lot of support and emails from our colleagues and beauty professionals, and they've all been very thankful. So it's awesome.
Leiah Scheibel [crosstalk 00:07:11]
Jodi KatzSo you're the face of the new amended law.
Alex BradberryRight?
Leiah Scheibel [crosstalk 00:07:13] SB 1320.
Alex BradberryYeah, that's exciting.
Jodi KatzWhat is the law?
Leiah Scheibel SB 1320.
Jodi KatzOh, that's so exciting. You should create a service named after [crosstalk 00:07:21]-
Alex BradberryOh, that's adorable.
Leiah Scheibel Oh my gosh, I love that idea.
Alex BradberryWe love that idea. We should work with you.
Leiah Scheibel That's so cute.
Jodi KatzAnd then eventually when you start developing your own products, because I'm sure that will happen in the future, you should have a shade or a product [crosstalk 00:07:31]-
Alex BradberryThat's adorable. I love that.
Leiah Scheibel Right? I love that.
Alex BradberryI think that we don't actually give it enough, the magnitude of doing something like that, enough credit.
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Alex BradberryWe're learning to slow down and appreciate the journey and all of that, but I think as entrepreneurs typically do, we just are so focused on the goal that we don't smell the roses.
Jodi KatzRight, I'd like you to stop and smell the roses on this one and share it with your community on social, because like I said, a lot of people just would have been like, "Forget it. I can't do this. I'll go somewhere else or do something different." It would have stopped them in their tracks, but you found a way to be resourceful and make it happen. That's a story people want to hear, so I'm glad you're sharing it with us.
Alex BradberryThank you.
Jodi KatzAnd I want you to share it with other people as well.
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Alex BradberryWe're working on that.
Jodi KatzIf you can have an anniversary party for the day that-
Alex BradberryOh my gosh.
Leiah Scheibel That's so cute. I love all of these ideas.
Alex BradberryThis must be your job.
Jodi KatzRight.
Alex BradberryYou're so [crosstalk 00:08:30].
Jodi KatzThis is big, and it really ... I think the fact that you did this, it just infuses your spirit, right? So true to who you are as business partners in The Sparkle Bar, and being scrappy and being entrepreneurial and not taking no for an answer. So it's worth celebrating.
Alex BradberryThank you.
Leiah Scheibel That's true.
Alex BradberryYeah, we're going to do that in your honor.
Jodi KatzOkay. Cool. Okay, and you'll keep me posted on what you do then?
Alex BradberryDefinitely.
Leiah Scheibel Yes.
Jodi KatzOkay, so let's talk about this white space that you saw, before you even knew there was a law in your way. I would think there are so many places to test on makeup, right? There's stores all over the place. What void did you see in your community?
Alex BradberryI don't think that there's any one line that has everything for everyone, so I think that was the missing link. Yes, you can go to the department store and visit a Nordstrom or Saks or Macy's, and have your makeup done at any beauty counter. But to assume or say that that counter at Chanel, or whoever it is, is going to have everything that's perfect for you is naïve. So that's how we decided to hand create all of our kits and make it very accessible to the average woman to have a service that should be super easy to access.
Leiah Scheibel And there are definitely spaces in a salon that maybe has a makeup artist as well, but generally that person is also a stylist. So they are not fully engaged in making sure that they're on trend, and keeping up with the education and things like that. So we wanted a space where someone has spent honing their craft and making sure that they are the expert here versus, "I'm good at everything."
Jodi KatzRight. Is your vision that they way I just stop into any salon and get my hair blown out, and then I would just stop into The Sparkle Bar and get my makeup done and be on my way? It's like not just for an event, it's just for my life?
Alex BradberryYes.
Leiah Scheibel Yes.
Alex BradberryIt's for brunch, it's for an interview, it's because you're going to see your girlfriends, it's for a date, it's for a birthday, it's a for a bridal shower, it's for a housewarming. Anything.
Leiah Scheibel What if you want to learn? You want to learn how to do your makeup, so maybe that is not in your budget that you can pop in for a brunch, or for a baby shower, or even for your family photos. But you can take the time to have a lesson and leave feeling like an expert in your right. Maybe it's six minutes and you're only putting on three or four products, but you're doing it correctly, and you're doing it functionally.
Jodi KatzBut you're not selling any products-
Leiah Scheibel Correct.
Alex BradberryCorrect.
Jodi KatzSo this is like a big kind of shift in my head because I'm just used to people putting on makeup and then trying to sell me the products, right? This is what we've all been trained around. Why do you stop there?
Leiah Scheibel I think that that kind of lends us credibility to putting the right product on you. We're choosing a product -and we just talked about this, this morning- that's right for you and your experience. So, Alex was putting her makeup on today and it's much more humid here than it is at home. We're walking everywhere-
Alex BradberryAnd I couldn't stop.
Leiah Scheibel Right. And so those types of things are things that you need to be educated on. How often are we educated on, "Oh, I'm going to the beach. What two or three items can I use?" And they're not going to look the same as they do in our 107 degree heat that is dry.
Jodi KatzRight, so you're almost like editors/curators for your customer, right?
Leiah Scheibel Yes.
Alex BradberryMm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzI've told you, Alex, I actually do want you to sell product because I do think that you've already probably built up this trust and faith in your customers that they don't feel like your selling them stuff they don't need. My thinking is [inaudible 00:11:48] is your business is that you're going to make my life easier, and just allow me to buy what you were recommending to me. But we'll get there when we get there. I'm going to say "we" because I was a [inaudible 00:11:58] of your company. Maybe like a little godmother or something sprinkling fairy dust.
But this idea that I can just come, get it done, learn if I want to learn, or just have the service I need and be on my way, that's a trend that we see in so many things that we're doing. This idea of deep education, so you live in Arizona where it's dry and warm. Today in New York City ... I want to paint a picture. If you go outside, you're sweating. Like, dripping with sweat. It's so humid, it's raining, it's not even crazy hot, it's just super sticky.
Alex BradberryRight.
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Alex BradberryRight.
Jodi KatzSo how did that change your makeup application today?
Alex BradberryLeiah and I were actually talking at breakfast how important it is to be able to adapt to whatever the temperature is. I was a little flustered because I'm so conditioned to do what I do at home, it's very moist here today, so that made everything a little bit more [inaudible 00:12:54] to her point. Having the education, even being there all the time, I do have access to these makeup artists who show me show much. It just takes the stress out of a situation when you're able to, excuse me, just do what you know you need to do and look pretty.
Jodi KatzRight. What was is your day job, other job? What were you before The Sparkle Bar became an idea?
Alex BradberrySales. So, like the name of the company?
Jodi KatzNo-
Alex BradberryNo. Oh.
Jodi KatzIf you'd like to say the name of your company then, give them a shout out.
Alex BradberryExcuse me, gosh. I work for Monster Worldwide. Sorry, I was just ... I'm in sales. I love sales.
Jodi KatzWhat are you selling?
Alex BradberryI sell recruitment solutions. I help companies find human capital. It's very difficult, which has been very helpful with The Sparkle Bar as well. It's understanding what is important to an employee and making sure it's a very employee centric company that we work or that we create the culture for them. I'm in sales, and I love to share my favorite things with everybody, so that's why this is a very natural fit. It's very organic.
I'm able just to tell people about makeup and how awesome it is, and how you can feel pretty, and why you should come hang out with us. It's a really fun, inviting, casual atmosphere, and people just really enjoy being there. It's just nice.
Jodi KatzLeiah , what were you doing before Sparkle Bar?
Leiah Scheibel I've been doing makeup for 17 years, and most recently prior to opening The Sparkle Bar, I was an original makeup artist for Laura Mercier Cosmetics.
Jodi KatzCool. Okay, so let's talk about the infancy of this idea. How do you know each other, and how did this idea come about?
Alex BradberryDo you want to start, Leiah ?
Leiah Scheibel Yeah, as an original artist I was only working about eight days a month. And so I had gotten a job-
Jodi KatzReally?
Leiah Scheibel Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzOh, that's good. Great job.
Leiah Scheibel Right? We had met selling medical software. I got a job with Alex, and we had met that way.
Jodi KatzOh, you took a side hustle-
Leiah Scheibel Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzWith your makeup job in sales also.
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Alex BradberryWhich we're both natural born sales people.
Leiah Scheibel Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzOkay, so you were selling medical equipment. How did you come into contact with Alex?
Leiah Scheibel Alex and I were on the sames sales team.
Jodi KatzOh, you were selling medical equipment before you were selling human capital services.
Alex BradberryYes.
Leiah Scheibel Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzGot it. Okay.
Alex BradberryI can do everything.
Jodi KatzThat's good to know. You're working together, how many years ago was this?
Alex BradberryFive.
Leiah Scheibel Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Alex BradberryWe both ... So I have two kids, she's got one. Our youngest are about three weeks apart, so we were both on maternity leave at the same time. That's when I had this idea and called Leiah because I knew I needed the creative side to create something, because I'm operations and business, and very black and white, to create The Sparkle Bar. That's how that whole thing happened.
Jodi KatzHow old are the kids now?
Alex BradberryFive-
Leiah Scheibel They just turned five.
Alex BradberryAnd the oldest is almost eight.
Jodi KatzCool.
Alex BradberryMm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzOkay, so had a moment of inspiration. It happened while you were on maternity leave?
Alex BradberryYeah, I was literally sitting on my back patio and I was like, "Why doesn't a place-" I had an event to attend, so everything was picked out. My dress is ready, my shoes, and I had my hair situation taken care of. It was just the makeup. While I'm pretty decent at doing my own makeup, this was like years ago so I've gotten better over time, I didn't have that taken care of. How often do you go somewhere and you want to take pictures and feel really pretty and then you just don't, and you want to commemorate the moment. That's when it happened. I literally went on GoDaddy or some domain place and purchased the name. It was available, and then just called her.
Jodi KatzOkay, so you're on maternity leave, you have an event to go to, so you already sort of vulnerable because you just had a baby, and tired-
Alex BradberryRight, look weird. Yeah.
Jodi KatzAnd spit up everywhere.
Alex BradberryYeah, and we haven't showered in days.
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Jodi KatzYou want your makeup to look great and you're thinking about the opportunities in your neighborhood, like where I can go?
Alex BradberryYeah, so I called Leiah and I was like, "Where can I go?" And she's like, "There really isn't a place outside of the counter, or unless I help you." She wasn't available and her only recommendation was to making an appointment at one of those counters where I've already had a bad experience in the past. That was when I thought, "How come there isn't really like a place? There's blow out places, but not makeup."
Jodi KatzOkay, I love that this started on your maternity leave because I actually had a big epiphany moment about my business after I had my son. I think he was like six months old. I'm like, "I can't be a freelancer. I need an agency." So it's maybe just taking a break from work, like the day to day, that gives you the opportunity to think bigger about other things.
Alex BradberryWell I think ... because I have daughters, and I was like, "I can't tell my daughter to go after her dreams if I'm not willing to do the same thing myself." So that's when I was just like, "We're just going to just jump and see what happens." Either way, we're going to try.
Jodi KatzSo you're on maternity leave, and you get a phone call from your friend Alex. She says, "I just bought the domain name-" [crosstalk 00:17:25]
Leiah Scheibel And I want you to help me. I was like, "Yeah. Any time. I'd love to do makeup there." And then she's like, "Oh, no. I want you to be my partner." I'm like, "Oh, anytime you need me to work there, I'll be there. You just let me know." And then she's like, "No, no, we should do this together." I was like, not into it. I loved my job, I was at home with my baby. I wasn't working very many days then. She called me several more times.
Just thinking back to my clients, I can't tell you how many times a day they say, "I wish you could just come home with me. Can you just do my makeup all the time? I hate coming here. I don't need any more lip gloss. Please?" So then that's when I was like, "You know what? She's right."
Jodi KatzOkay, you had no entrepreneurial juice inside of you at that moment?
Leiah Scheibel I actually did have two other businesses previously. One was still running at the time when we had started this business. We sold and manufactured at [Dalton 00:18:27] at Big Wheels.
Jodi Katz[inaudible 00:18:28] Big Wheels?
Leiah Scheibel Mm-hmm (affirmative). The huge tricycles.
Jodi KatzBikes, okay.
Leiah Scheibel Yep. Prior to that, we had a small [inaudible 00:18:37].
Jodi KatzOkay, let's just take a pause on beauty and talk about the Big Wheels. They're like giant sized Big Wheels, and you manufactured them?
Leiah Scheibel Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzIn the US?
Leiah Scheibel From my garage, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzMetal or plastic?
Leiah Scheibel Steel, mm-hmm (affirmative). Steel, yep.
Jodi KatzWho did you sell them to?
Leiah Scheibel We did A&E, Duck Dynasty, Jack Daniels, Grey Goose.
Jodi KatzWere they co-branded?
Leiah Scheibel Those ones, yes. But we did them for individuals to Canada. I like look at you because every time while we were still doing this [inaudible 00:19:06], I'm like, "This is happening. We just got this huge order." But yeah, so that's what they were.
Jodi KatzAnd you still have that business?
Leiah Scheibel No.
Jodi KatzOh, so if somebody is listening to this pod and they want an oversize Big Wheel-
Leiah Scheibel They were like, "Oh my gosh."
Jodi KatzThey can't call you?
Alex BradberrySorry.
Leiah Scheibel Yeah, it's called Urban Trike. Urban Trike is no longer.
Jodi KatzAnd is it-
Leiah Scheibel At this moment. I mean we had business partners, so they might pick it back up again.
Jodi KatzMm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. What was the biggest number of bikes that were ordered at once?
Leiah Scheibel 50
Jodi KatzAnd they were all made by hand, I assume?
Leiah Scheibel Mm-hmm (affirmative), yes.
Jodi KatzSo that's a lot of bikes.
Leiah Scheibel Yes. That was a lot of bikes. That was for ... it was like a traveling group that did X-Games stuff.
Jodi KatzOh, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Leiah Scheibel So they would jump them.
Jodi KatzOh my God.
Leiah Scheibel Yeah.
Jodi KatzHow did you get into that business?
Leiah Scheibel Our business partners at the time who were our business partners, sort of just a partner in general with our apparel business, we had met them over drinks. They were talking about he had a big 35th birthday party and he's like, "I just want to rent some tricycles and have tricycles at my birthday party." My boyfriend was like, "Oh, I can make that." He's like, "Really? Because we rented ours from San Diego and it was thousands of dollars." He was like, "No, no, no, I'll make you one." So then we built a prototype and everyone was super into it. They look really rad, and everyone loved them.
Jodi KatzOkay. [inaudible 00:20:22] demand my increase after the pod goes live. Oh wait, and you also had another business at the time, which was fashion.
Leiah Scheibel Oh, let's not call it fashion. It was MMA [inaudible 00:20:33] apparel. So like mouth guards, hand wraps and T-shirts and whatnot.
Jodi KatzOkay. And you're not [inaudible 00:20:38] anymore?
Leiah Scheibel No. That business to a back seat to the trikes, and both of us were still working our jobs, and so-
Jodi KatzYou and your boyfriend?
Leiah Scheibel Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzMm-hmm (affirmative). Okay, so you've always been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Have you ever had a side hustle?
Alex BradberryNo, but my parents are entrepreneurs, so I think it's just in my blood, my DNA, to not work for other people.
Jodi KatzBut The Sparkle Bar is the first time, your first go at this?
Alex BradberryYeah, outside of babysitting, yeah.
Jodi KatzOkay. We should not undervalue babysitting. I made a lot of money as a teenager babysitting. It's a good gig.
Alex BradberryMm-hmm (affirmative).
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Jodi KatzOkay. So back to the moment, she calls you and you're like, "No thanks." And then you called her again, and she's like, "No thanks," and then Alex-
Alex BradberryIt took some coaxing. But another person called her and was like, "You should actually really do this because there's a glass ceiling. You're not going to be come a global artist-"
Leiah Scheibel And that was my dream.
Alex Bradberry"And so if you want this opportunity, you need to take it."
Leiah Scheibel Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzSo your friends were saying that you wanted to a global artist for makeup brand, but you're never going to get that opportunity unless you do this for yourself.
Leiah Scheibel Right. I had stayed with my brands for a long time. I was Bobbi Brown for nine years, and I was with Laura Mercier for five, because I wanted that longevity, because I really did want that opportunity as a global artist or a pro artist. I didn't want to be at the counter. I think that that's something that I really tried to remember when we are hiring our artists in studio, because while it's an amazing place for people to come get their hair done and leave feeling really confident and educated, it's a space where artists can come, especially after we had passed the bill, to flourish.
Alex BradberryRight.
Leiah Scheibel And we talk about kind of your brand wanting you to grow and do something bigger and greater, and I think that that's someplace that artists can come to us and they either come from a counter, they're self-taught and they don't know what to do next. We really have these opportunities that can help them move forward.
Alex BradberryRight.
Jodi KatzI think one of the reasons why I was fascinated by watching your business on Instagram, is that it's the opposite of Glam Squad. Glam Squad comes to me, wherever I am, but you're creating the little oasis that the customer comes to. Why do you think the customer in your area of Arizona is really drawn to this idea?
Leiah Scheibel We also do come to you, too.
Alex BradberryI think it's a really fun space to be. It's really inviting, very comfortable. I think a woman is almost vulnerable when she's got nothing on. You can come in and, gosh I'm so sorry, and feel incredible, and like you're in a very safe space at The Sparkle Bar. Yes, we do come on location to you, but it's like the equivalent, I feel like, of being at a barbershop for me. It's a sort of fun space where you can come, catch up with your girlfriends, look really pretty, take a bunch of pictures, and then leave.
Jodi KatzThat's an interesting comparison, especially because everywhere you go, no matter what city I'm in, the whole barbershop thing has just gone bananas, right?
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Alex BradberryYeah.
Jodi KatzDo you think it's that sense of community-
Alex BradberryMm-hmm (affirmative).
Leiah Scheibel Of course.
Jodi KatzIs that's what's drawing these people there?
Leiah Scheibel We also joke, too, that our clients don't want to leave. When they're in there, they stay. They bring their curling irons, they, "Do you mind if I change here?" Of course not, please. Let's hang up your stuff. A lot of times the artists will grab her clothes, go hang them up in the back, and it's really that ... remember when you used to go out and get ready, and it's fun and there's music and you're with your girlfriends-
Alex BradberryLike in college.
Leiah Scheibel [crosstalk 00:24:03] on.
Jodi KatzYeah.
Leiah Scheibel Then you're getting ready to go out, you take your pictures and you're like, "Let's just stay."
Alex BradberryWe should have stayed home.
Leiah Scheibel Right? This was the funnest part. So that's what it feels like, and our clients would 100% agree.
Jodi KatzAll right, so let's talk ... let's do a deep dive into what's hard, what's easy about running this business, because we do have a lot of entrepreneurs who listen, and they sometimes pull over to the side of the road to take notes [inaudible 00:24:27]. What kind of practical experience, wisdom can you share? What's been the hardest challenge for you, Leiah ?
Leiah Scheibel Personally, it's managing different personalities. As an artist, I feel the majority of our girls are creative spirits like myself. Whereas Alex is very analytical, very numbers-driven, facts and fact, but like for a creative I feel like we're like, "Oh, this is great."
Alex BradberrySuper emotional.
Leiah Scheibel Yeah, so emotional. This is, "I'm fine. Yeah, that sounds great." And then you give them a shift and they're like, "Actually, no, no, no, that was too much," or they're like, "Yes." I mean, they're just so breezy that it's hard to kind of narrow them down.
Jodi KatzMaybe the young staffers', I guess, lack of clarity around what their own boundaries are-
Leiah Scheibel Right. And I mean not even the young ones. Just a creative, we're all emotional, so breezy and just so ... I'd say fluid but that's something that I'm working on.
Jodi KatzWait so outwardly they seem really breezy-
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Jodi KatzBut inwardly they're struggling-
Leiah Scheibel Exactly.
Jodi Katz[crosstalk 00:25:31]
Leiah Scheibel Yeah, they're definitely struggling with boundaries, they're struggling with being realistic about their abilities. Can you work a 13 hour day? Can you be on location by yourself? Do you have ... I mean, just-
Alex BradberryI think a lot of learning's for us, too. Yes, how to manage these personalities but also putting processes in place and making sure that things are run from an operations perspective and making sure that ... so we've learned along the way that every day there is a new challenge. We're going, we're adapting, and that we have to be very nimble. I'm somebody who I change my mind a lot though, so you have to listen to your audience.

Being willing to do that as well as been very important and critical to our business as well. People say, "We want you to come on location," we hear you. They want us to sell products, we totally get it. That is definitely coming. So, just being very self aware and trying to not take on too much, making sure that we're going strategically, make sue we don't abandon the customer or employees more importantly. It's just been a lot of learnings. Every day is something new. And even together, you know?
Leiah Scheibel Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzSo Leiah , you referenced a challenge of emotions, and then you referenced a challenge of operations which doesn't surprise me because you just described yourself and it's like creative and operational.
Alex BradberryYes. I want a process in place.
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Alex BradberryWhat happens next?
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Jodi KatzSo I'm actually, Alex, somebody who gets really uncomfortable when the next two things [inaudible 00:27:02] haven't been taken care of. My mindset in running my business is like I want to do the work now to be prepared for that next phase, whatever that is, and it could be about resource planning, it could be about having the right talent in place, it could be about having checklists or whatever it is. When I have an idea of where I want to go and I'm in limbo to get there, it's really uncomfortable for me.
Alex BradberryRight.
Jodi KatzSo I hear you about process. I'm like super that way. Okay, so what's been, Alex let's start with you, the greatest reward so far in running the business?
Alex BradberryI think it's very exciting to have something that's ours, that no one can take from us, and then just people loving our business, loving what we've created is really special. You don't know when you open something if people are going to be receptive to it until you get there. I can remember when we first opened, we'd be on the phone together at like one in the morning and an appointment would come through and we'd be like, "Oh my God, somebody booked an appointment."

This was like three years ago. Now it's crazy to see that yeah, people are booking appointments, and they're downloading our app, and we're busy every Saturday. Back three years ago, we'd book out like a day in advance. Now, it's like to eight to 12 weeks, which is awesome.
Jodi KatzWow.
Alex BradberryYeah, so we're very excited about that and just seeing how much we've grown. It's a lot for us small business to survive. Three years, so we're very proud of that as well. And just how far we've come.
Jodi KatzWhat about you, Leiah ?
Leiah Scheibel I think actually seeing our clients leave. Since I am there and occasionally providing services too, seeing her look at herself in the mirror in a completely different capacity than when she walked in. Especially people who have not been in before. We have that woman who comes in all the time. She walks in different than she walks out.

We were just on location in Las Vegas and a gal had gotten her makeup done, and she's like, "My mom looks so good. She would never say it because she just doesn't say anything like that," and she goes to look at herself in the mirror. She literally came back with a strut. She's like, "I've never looked so pretty." I was like, "Oh, okay." I feel like just seeing that shift in someone's confidence and leave just feeling great, and not even knowing what they're going to run into that day. But they know that they can take it on.
Jodi KatzLet's talk about the future. I want you, number one, to live in the present because you are doing such amazing things. But I'm so curious about your business because the story telling you do on social, I feel like I'm there.
Alex BradberryThank you.
Jodi KatzI really ... it's true. I've never been there obviously, but I feel like I'm part of that community. I feel like I'm celebrating your wins with you. I feel like I'm the partnership with you. You definitely immerse me as the reader in your world.
Alex BradberryThank you.
Jodi KatzKudos to that. What's the vision for what's next? Or, do you even agree on what that vision is?
Alex BradberryShe looks to me.
Leiah Scheibel I would say that I wholeheartedly trust every direction that Alex wants to go in the future, and I say Alex because she is that planner. Let me execute what we need to get done now so that you can be planning. I'm going to execute current, and I look to Alex because honestly, Alex knows things before they even happen. Literally, these shoes for instance. She's like, "Hm. Your shoes look familiar." I was like, "Yeah, yeah. I just got them. I mean, they're not yours," but that's because she had them like four years ago. She was like, "Oh, these are going to be on trend. They look so cute." But it's because she always knows before it happens. So I wholeheartedly trust where she wants this to go.
Alex BradberryOh, thank you.
Jodi KatzOkay, so Alex, where are we going? Where is Sparkle Bar going?
Alex BradberryI'm very excited because we do have a very unique partnership that we can't totally talk about right now, but that is coming, which would make buying products very accessible to anyone anywhere. There is a location to this, so that's very exciting for our customers. I don't know. That whole, "I change my mind frequently," is real. I see things in my head, like there's a bunch of dots, and then you just connect them, and that's how I do things.

So yes, she absolutely executes to these dots, and I'm the one who's thinking about where those should live. But I don't know, just yet. Do we want to have TSBs across the country? I don't know that I can handle my stress, my anxiety, a location in like 50 different markets. Could we be a place that people come to when they're in Scottsdale and look to for advice and for guidance, and for trends whether they live in New York, Arizona or anywhere across the globe? Yeah. I think making us available and accessible across the globe is our objective and goal.
Jodi KatzOkay, so I would like to just remind you of my two cents.
Leiah Scheibel I'm loving all of your cents.
Jodi KatzI see brands struggle, and I think the way to win right now, and this could change into yours, is to be hyper local. You know, so I actually think that the fact that you are saying, "We service Scottsdale," and if you're visiting Scottsdale, great. If you live in Scottsdale, great. If you drive 20 minutes or 30 minutes, great. And that you own that space is really strong, because I think that thanks to social and the way people [inaudible 00:32:07] on social, it's really ... you can have a huge impact locally, right? Like, think about the local bakery that's awesome, or the local ... I don't know.

[inaudible 00:32:15] they built their business locally, and they can have a very strong business if they're savvy, and you're doing that. So now matter how many Sparkle Bars you end up opening, as long as they feel local, that they feel like part of the community, I think you can continue to win.
Alex BradberryWe couldn't agree more. We say it all the time. We want to grow out of Arizona, start so strong that you grow out of ... like so many people know about you that you throw that pebble out into the lake and the ripples just continue to grow. That's exactly what we're trying to do.
Jodi KatzI love this idea that you want to be a beacon for makeup expertise to anyone whose in the area, right? Even if they're not permanent residents. I like this idea that I'm visiting and it's like a destination. It's like it brings a local museum.
Alex BradberryYes.
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Alex BradberryLiterally. We just got an email this morning from somebody who's coming from Michigan with their girlfriend and they want to book Beauty 101's lessons with us just as part of their girl's trip. But yes, that's exactly what we want to do. Very similar to, I think, like Violet Gray, for example, is a good comparison I think, minus the fact that they're retailing product. But having that specialty, specialized store on Melrose in California, you can go visit if you want to, I think the same principle kind of lies with us as well.
Jodi KatzIs this all saw funded at this point?
Alex BradberryYes, 100%. We are bootstrapped.
Jodi KatzThere's huge advantages to that, you know, right?
Alex BradberryYes.
Leiah Scheibel Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Alex BradberryYes.
Jodi KatzAre you considering outside investment?
Alex BradberryI think we're open to lots of conversations.
Leiah Scheibel Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Alex BradberryBut I think that the ability to control and make decisions and not be working for somebody else is really appealing for us.
Jodi KatzRight. Right. It's appealing to me, too.
Alex BradberryYes.
Jodi KatzI've never ... I mean, we're a service business so I don't even feel like ... a service business, that's sort of virtual, so it's not ... that's not important to us, but this idea of total control over my vision, over where we're going in the work, we say [inaudible 00:34:11] opportunities we want, that's more than money.
Alex BradberryRight.
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Alex BradberrySame. We were just talking about that, too. What does success really look like? Money will come, and we're totally aware of that, but for me, it's my time. Like I [inaudible 00:34:23] success to being able to dictate how I spend my days, my mornings. All of that is what I'm really looking for.
Leiah Scheibel Right.
Jodi KatzI used to be, until very recently, pretty obsessed with I'm working so hard, why am I not rolling in it? This is goes through my mind all the time. I was in the food store and I ran into a neighbor who's like, "How is work going?" And I said that same thing to her like, "I'm working so hard, I'm not rolling in it." And then it just occurred to me, we were in the canned food aisle, that if money was so important to me, I'd just go have a big job somewhere.
Alex BradberryRight. Right. Right.
Jodi KatzBut what's really, really important to me is control over my time, the ability to say yes or no to things. It took me, I don't know, 10 1/2 years to get there, but I realized I'm rich in everything that I want, and then I just felt really more on ease like yeah, I can fill my bank account later. It will come.
Alex BradberryRight, exactly.
Jodi KatzThank you for sharing that.
Alex BradberryYes, thank you.
Jodi KatzOkay, this is so exciting. What is a lingering feeling you want people to know about The Sparkle Bar, because a lot of our listeners might be LA/New York. So they might not be in Scottsdale, so what do you want them to remember?
Leiah Scheibel That you can give us a call or follow us on social. We have those tips and tricks that eventually we maybe will be to where we can say, "Hey, let me just FaceTime you. We'll have your lesson at home," so you're here, we're there, we'll do something by Skype. You can have this same expertise, or even just following us on all of our platforms. I think that we really try hard to make sure that we make them feel confident and comfortable because they have us. We're in your back pocket.
Alex BradberryAnd because the Internet is such a wonderful place, we know trends whether we live in Arizona, or New York, or California. So we do keep our finger on the pulse of what's happening. Where we reside is kind of irrelevant to our audience outside of Arizona because you can have access to us and everything that we're able to share with you. You can expect to see a lot more content from us because that needs to happen. You'll see more blogs, and more tutorials. We've got a really incredible whose very comfortable on social. So expect to see more IGTV videos, we're going to ramp up our YouTube channel. Just stay tuned and follow us because we've got a lot of exciting things happening.
Jodi KatzI am so proud of you both.
Alex BradberryThank you.
Leiah Scheibel Thank you.
Jodi KatzAnd I am just so deeply grateful that you came to New York State to sit with us today.
Alex BradberryYes, thank you for having us.
Leiah Scheibel Thank you for having us.
Jodi KatzThank you so much.
Alex BradberryYes, thank you so much. Yes, of course.
Jodi KatzAnd thank you for sharing your wisdom. For our listeners, I hope you enjoyed this interview. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes, and for updates about the show, follow us on Instagram @WhereBrainsMeetBeautyPodcast.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

Want to sponsor the pod?

Available On:

Apple Podcasts