From college to cosmetics

Anisa Saigo | Staff Writer

Kalijah Stokes, a graduating senior from Brooklyn, New York, doubles as a 22-year-old CEO of NUDE COSMETICS and a marketing professional with a history in multiple industries. This young woman is hardworking and about her businesses.

HS: How did the idea for your business come about?

KS: It was actually very random. I wanted money for one, I wanted something of my own, I love nude lipgloss, and I was tired of spending all my money at MAC. The cosmetic industry is so fruitful, so I figured why not start my own gloss line of nudes?

HS: What was your motivation to become an entrepreneur?

KS: Starting something that was mine. And all mine.

HS: How did you come up with the name for your company?

KS: I believe in simplicity. My original line started with all different shades of nude glosses, so I decided NUDE was clean and to the point.

HS: How did you raise funding for your venture?

KS: My mom and a close family friend gave me the money I needed to start, and I’ve been on my own ever since. My sales are really great, so it’s easy for me to come up with money to continue restocking.

HS: How do you build a successful customer base?

KS: A quality product and marketing. I take pride in my packaging as well as the quality of the gloss. People love my product not because it’s me, but because it’s good quality. Word of mouth does most of my marketing outside of social media. My customers are loyal.

HS: How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?

KS: Social media and word of mouth. I haven’t put a dollar into promotion or marketing yet!

HS: What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?

KS: I can’t answer that yet because it’s really just me. My mom doubles as my brand manager, and one of my closest friends handles all creative direction and digital aspects. They know my head is always in a million places, but they understand me and just know what to do. That’s why I love them.

HS: Do you have any advice for the future or current entrepreneurs that are in school still?

KS: It’s going to get extremely hard, but have an end goal and use it as motivation. If you’re putting your name on something, be ready to do the groundwork. It’s not always glitz and glam.

HS: How do you define success?

KS: Success is when I have a globally respected and profitable brand, and I’m able to put other people in positions.

HS: Who has been your biggest inspiration?

KS: Outside of my mom, I don’t really have one. And I don’t mean that arrogantly. I have people whose success stories are motivating, but I stay in my own lane.

HS: What motivates you?

KS: My end goal. Which I’m not going to speak about. But that’s what keeps me going.

HS:How do you balance between your professional and social life? Has there been any stress?

KS: Oh lord. My life is anxiety and stress. I’m still mastering the balance thing because I honestly don’t have a professional and social balance. My life is all work, and I’m OK with that. When I get to where I want to be, I’ll socialize.

HS: What piece of advice would you give to college graduates who want to become entrepreneurs?

KS: Soul search and make sure it’s what you really want and you’re not just following a trend. If it is what you want, be passionate about your business. If you don’t love what you do, you’ll always produce mediocre work.

To check out everything Stokes is up to with her brand, go to ktsnude.com and Instagram page @ktsnude.

 

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