Meet EntreprenHER Roshell Rinkins. Fresh from the Florida shores, Roshell now resides in Northern California, where she is a corporate superwoman in Silicon Valley and the fearless founder of cosmetics company, Liquid Courage Cosmetics--a black owned beauty brand. She is no stranger to the grind of wearing multiple hats while trying to sustain a successful business. In the ever-changing beauty industry, you have to stay 5 steps ahead just to get ahead. Roshell spills the tea on how she manages it all.
Real Beautiful: You are a black female entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, working a 9 to 5, and you have your own cosmetics line. Where did the idea to launch your own brand come from?
Roshell Rinkins: I worked for Procter & Gamble for 8 years, and I remember reading a study that showed when most women [are wearing] lipstick, they feel more courageous, bold, and fearless. The name Liquid Courage was the immediate thing that stuck in my mind. If you think about the cosmetics companies that are around, and not to bash anybody, but where is the empowerment? I wanted a brand that before picking up or trying the product, you knew this was something made for you. We all need encouragement, and Liquid Courage is a lifestyle brand for women who are wives, mothers, business owners, community builders, and kicking butt in their industry. I really wanted my brand to represent that.
RB: That’s very true. I feel like for a lot of women, makeup is our badge. It’s like we’re going into battle with our makeup on.
RR: Before picking the name “Liquid Courage,” I sent it out to a group of my friends and one of my friends came back and said the same thing. She said, “You know what, makeup is our war paint.”
RB: With all that being said, you launched your own company, and you’re doing this by yourself. What does being an entrepreneur and having your own company mean to you?
RR: I want what everybody wants, right? And that’s the freedom to have ownership over my own time and the ability to really solve a problem. Entrepreneurs are tasked with the responsibility of finding a specific gap and filling that gap. I want to let women know that they can become entrepreneurs too, and they can build something from the ground up.
RB: Being an entrepreneur isn't usually the first thing people think of when choosing what they want to be when they grow up. Was that always your plan?
RB: You are building this brand, and you’re also working. How, Sway?
RR: A lot of folks talk about the balance, but to be honest balance can mean so many different things for different people. I was always taught that there are ebbs & flows of life, and this is my opportunity to really do something great with my brand. I look at my 9 to 5 as my venture capitalist. It's helping me invest in my passion. I have to do a good job in my 9 to 5 because I depend on the funds and the capital from that to ensure that Liquid Courage continues to thrive. There can’t be one without the other. Small business experts recommend you keep your 9 to 5 because it gives you income and stability. It allows you to test the market and learn, without having the pressures of not getting income or revenue because you’re a startup.
RB: Would you recommend people starting their own business to go that route? Find a job to support the side hustle? What if someone just wants to start a business, but they’re not working. Which is the best route?
RR: I think it depends. If you’re Mark Zuckerberg, and you have access to capital then you probably don’t need a full-time job. Access to resources is the number one reason small businesses or startups fail. Unfortunately, in the African-American and African community in general, getting access to capital is very difficult. That’s my reality. Knowing that reality, my strategy is to fund my startup myself for as long as I can. When I'm prepared to go to a venture capitalist, I’ll have demonstrated that I believe in my product and my service so much that I put my own money in. There is no better validation or proof that you believe in your product or your service than you investing in it. I don’t recommend one way or the other, but that’s the approach and the strategy I’m taking.
RB: What is something you would tell young women who want to launch their own companies or brands?
RR: Build your community. I had a chance to meet with Sephora. They loved the Liquid Courage product. Do you know the feedback they gave me? They said, "Roshell, you need to focus on your social media." Here I have one of the top retailers in the beauty category telling me to focus on social media. I thought to myself well, why do I have to focus on social media? But the folks that come into their store are looking for what’s trending. If people aren't talking about your brand then you don’t exist. I would encourage an entrepreneur looking to develop and launch their brand to focus on their community. Know who your tribe is and how to market to your tribe.
RB: Awesome advice! So, what are some challenges budding entrepreneurs should look out for?
RB: Liquid Courage is a line for all women. What makes Liquid Courage stand out? What’s the mojo behind Liquid Courage for women?
RB: What's up next for Liquid Courage?
RR: We’re going to launch some lip stains which I think the community is going to get really excited about. I also want to continue to build on the lifestyle piece. The focus for the next year is really growing our technology platform with Courage Ed and Courage Speaks.