Ruthie: I am so excited to introduce the final guest of Season 4, Takia Ross. She’s a professional makeup artist, owner of Accessmatized, as well as home of Pretty Mobile Baltimore, the DMV’s first mobile makeup studio. Having had her artistry featured in over 50 publications, seen on NBC and BET, Takia is most proud of her commitment to women in business. This landed her in Forbes.
Having won over $65,000 participating in pitch competitions, she wrote and published her book “So You Want to Pitch”, a workbook helping business owners plan, prepare, and pitch for funding. It’s on the top 5 books on my to-be-read list right now. She has been named one of Baltimore’s 25 women to watch, and one of the DMV’s top 100 MBEs.
She is a mother, as well as an international speaker and teacher. Takia, thank you so much for being with me.
If you prefer the audio version, listen here:
Afterward, we connected on LinkedIn and Instagram, and here she is! Now we get to have this talk, and who knows what the future will bring? That’s the power of developing your network.
Takia: Oh, thank you for having me!
Ruthie: So I’ve had guests that I’ve met through social media, but Takia and I actually met at a business event. We were both coaches for a small business accelerator run by M&T, and that’s how we met.
Why Did You Choose to Start a Beauty Business?
Ruthie: So before we go into the details of your business, I would love to know what moved you to start a business in the makeup industry. What caused you to go that way?
Takia: I always tell people that I’m a businesswoman who happens to do makeup. I had a regular nine-to-five job and I thought I was making good money, but I just didn’t have enough. I didn’t have enough to pay my mortgage and car payments.
I also had a daughter that was going to college and one that was starting high school. Then I had a baby, and we don’t need to say nothing about that.
So my money just wasn’t spreading out enough. I was like, “You know what? I’m going to have to find a way. God please find a way for me to bring in some extra money.” And it’s so funny because I’d been doing makeup for friends and family, but I wasn’t a professional makeup artist. I wasn’t an artist; I was just putting on some lipsticks and stuff. That’s what I thought.
A Passion Turned Into a Business
One day, somebody called me and said, “Hey, a good friend of mine gave me your number. Can you do my makeup?” And I’m like, “Y’all, what are you talking about? Like, who does that?”
Personally, I did everything that the world told me I was supposed to do:
- graduate high school
- go to college
- get a degree
- get a good government job and a 401k
So makeup artistry as a profession was just outside of my scope of understanding
Ruthie: It’s too much fun, first of all.
Takia: Right! And then people pay you money to have fun! So that’s really how it started. I was teaching when I started doing makeup on the side, and my students would see me come to work with feather lashes and glitter lips. Who was going to check us anyway? Who was going to say I couldn’t?
My students would be like, “Ms. Ross, can you do my makeup?” And I’m like, “No, but you can learn this history. You can learn about the civil war though.” I will say, it came out of nowhere. It was one of those moments where your hobby truly turned into something that you love doing and actually get paid to do.
Ruthie: Oh my goodness, that had to have helped you really connect with your students!
Leading From The Front
Takia: It really did. I think that especially being a woman of color, you have to lead by example. You have to show your students and whoever’s watching that you can be smart and glamorous. You can be a doctor and wear 6-inch heels. You can be a professor and wear false lashes.
Too many times, we have these conditions about the roles we play. For example, if you’re a professor you have to come with a blue suit and wear stockings. But no, I am a professor and I can teach this content, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still a woman. I still like fancy stuff! I like big lashes and oversized hoop earrings.
So I think when you show people, you give people permission to live their own life.
On Her Numerous Business Endeavors
Ruthie: So can you tell me about your business endeavors? When I read your intro, you’ve definitely got more than one thing going on. They all come together very holistically, but could you just tell me about it?
Takia: So we have Accessmatized, my makeup artistry business. That’s where we provide makeup artistry services for things like proms, weddings, girl’s night out, whatever. We do editorial, we do television. We do the gamut of providing services.
The Mobile Makeup Studio
We also launched Pretty Mobile Baltimore, DMV’s first mobile makeup studio. This was a way for us to be able to provide services to our clients when a traditional venue wasn’t available.
What we were finding was that a lot of clients were professional women, over 30 years old, who don’t have time for their beautification process. So they need you to fit into their day.
A lot of times, they’re in their office. You also don’t want to go into your office bathroom to put on your gala makeup, so we launched Pretty Mobile. You could come out of your office, you could get your makeup done and then go back in if you needed to.
So Pretty Mobile holds up to 3 artists and 9 clients at a time. There’s a dressing room, a refreshment station and wifi. So you could literally come on board, still stay connected to your job, and walk out feeling like you can be your most confident itself.
And She Put Her Knowledge Into a Book
Around 2 years ago I wrote my workbook “So You Want to Pitch”. That was because I had spent 2 years pitching my business for funding in pitch competitions.
I was finding that women were missing in those competitions, in comparison to men. Especially women who provide a service, even though most women who own businesses are service providers.
For some reason, we don’t think there’s space for us in that market.
And so when I started pitching a service-based business, people were like, “How are you winning?” You can stand on stage and win $10,000 in 30 seconds.
That was money that I didn’t have to pay back. I could immediately infuse it into my business. So I wrote the workbook to help small business owners like myself plan, prepare, and pitch their businesses for funding.
Kiki Thunda, The Makeup Line
Last year, we launched my makeup line Kiki Thunda. It’s named after my alter ego, Kiki “Thunda” Rodriguez. So we have a line of liquid lipstick, we just launched our powder foundations, and we have lip glosses that we completely manufacture in Baltimore. It’s all done in Baltimore, from idea to packaging, formulation, and shipping. And all of our products are named after the Baltimore things.
Ruthie: I have seen that!
Takia: We named everything after Baltimore because I love Baltimore so much.
Who Is Your Ideal Customer?
Ruthie: And then I wanted to ask you about your ideal customer. So sure. You know, somebody, if they’re interested in buying, you’re happy to have them buy of course. But when you’re marketing, who is the ideal customer that you’re trying to connect to
Takia: I think that’s such a personal task for each business. In regards to makeup artistry, most of my clients are African-American women over the age of 30, who reside 20 miles within the 21230 zip code. They’re speakers, or have a corporate high-ranking position in whatever organization they’re in.
But again, it’s something that becomes completely personal to each brand. You have an opportunity to really speak to that market of people, because each group of people have their own language.
You discover this through research, taking the time to collect that kind of data, looking at it, and being really strategic about who is contacting you for services.
Even if you have 18 different revenue streams in a business, that doesn’t mean that you all have the same client base.
So in regards to our product line, these women have the same age demographic, but most of them don’t get their makeup done. They do make up for themselves. I call them dope women, and these are women who are really bold. Especially in our liquid lipstick line, the colors are very in-your-face, you know what I mean?
Ruthie: Like what you’re wearing right now! That’s a very serious pop.
Takia: Yes. Women who lean that way are very bold women. They’re very outspoken. They have something to say and they’re not afraid to say it. But like I said, each business line has a different market, and you’re going to have to speak to them differently.
A New Potential Market?
Ruthie: Absolutely. And I just had an idea about something you can do with the fact that you’re so accustomed to being mobile and serving your clients where they are. So I used to do fitness competitions. For every competition I did, I always paid for the onsite makeup artist and hairstylist to do my makeup.
Once things rev back up, that might be another market for you. I think you would relate a lot to the women who choose to go on that stage. I was actually planning on doing one this year before things got canceled.
But that could be something for you because you can get a really good reputation, and people always want those same people. I’m still friends with the makeup artists who did most of my makeup for my company!
Takia: That’s so good! Thank you so much. Listen, those are women after my own heart, so I’m excited. I didn’t know you did that! Yeah. We’re gonna have a conversation.
Ruthie: Yeah, that was me. I was in an emerald green suit by the end of it, had tons of sparkles on it, makeup, hair, etc. Oh, I loved it so much. Now that we’ve settled in and my youngest just turned 2, I’m like, “You what? Almost everybody’s potty trained. Let’s do this!”
Takia: It takes a lot of hard work though.
Ruthie: I did all of my shows while I was in the Army, so yeah, it’s a ton of work.
Takia: Okaaay! Maybe I need to be interviewing you because I got questions.
Ruthie: Well, you know what, we can do that! We could definitely do that.