CEO moms are one of the most hardworking people in the world, and Cashmere Nicole, the CEO, and founder of Beauty Bakerie is the perfect example of a woman who doesn’t stop until she achieves her dreams. Throughout her challenging yet inspiring journey, Nicole has learned to use every opportunity that she has worked for, creating her own company, Beauty Bakerie, with long-lasting, smudge-free makeup products. Mastering the ins and outs of her business and learning from her mistakes, Nicole has an unstoppable work ethic which has allowed her to build a $15 million dollar company, all while giving a great example of a hard-working woman for her daughter.
Her motto “Better not Bitter” allows Nicole to remember to take on all of life’s challenges in a positive and empowering way. As a single mother and a breast cancer survivor, Nicole started an Indiegogo page for her business back in 2011 which caught Beyoncé’s attention in October of 2014 during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Then, Nicole and her company were featured on Beyoncé’s website, and with multiple Instagram advertisements and a website redesign, Beauty Bakerie really took off. Offering a diverse line of non-toxic, cruelty-free, and vegan cosmetic products centered around baked goods, Nicole has made amazing accomplishments with her business. I had a chance to talk with Nicole about her journey as a mom and CEO.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m a mother first, an art lover and a lover of all things relating to business. Being an art lover normally means our hearts are large so I also enjoy helping others and am pretty excited about my 501c3 Sugar Homes, an initiative I began to provide for orphaned children. Today we care for 24 children in Uganda as well as 17 in Indonesia.
Give us a rundown on the history behind your business
I founded the company after attempting to start many companies since the age of 9. It was my last shot at being an entrepreneur since I had dreamt of owning a business and worked to own businesses since a young age.
What has your process been like getting your business started to where you are now?
It has been a battle. I often think about why it’s had to be so challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m doing what I love and learning many important business lessons. In order to get to this point, this title and role of CEO, I had to wear every other hat first. I had to know my company in and out and each part of the brand had to be nurtured until I was able to hire my first employees.
You started Beauty Bakerie simultaneously while working as a licensed practical nurse, how did you find the time to do both and what tips do you have for women who are following in your footsteps working their dream while also working their 9-5?
As a mother, you get the extra drive out of nowhere. I knew my daughter’s future depended on me following my dreams and finding my purpose. How could I guide her if I didn’t know where I was going? My advice would be to simply focus on the goal, not how much work you have to do. I would use my student grant or loan money to supplement the few hours I was able to work. I paid my daughter’s tuition before my rent many times. I knew education mattered most to me for her.
You’ve secured nearly $8 million in funding over the past few years, what do you think helped you secure major brands like Unilever as an investor?
I think it is my drive, the team I’ve built. Ask yourself what would you want to see in someone before you invested millions into their business or idea? What type of character should that person have? What kind of work ethic?
Is there anything people misunderstand about your career or something that might surprise others to learn about your work?
I think people fail to understand how much of a commitment it requires to learning and growing; too failing. I’d rather fail because at least I know what WON’T work and then the win is a layup from there. I think people think that getting to this point is a stroke of luck – it was grinding every single day of the last 9 years. No days off. No excuses.
We all make them—what’s been one of your biggest professional mistakes or missteps so far? What did you learn from it?
I can’t think of any major mistakes or missteps. All of it was my journey. It was all meant to be as it was and is – there were no mistakes. I can say that I did believe I had done all of the official paperwork properly and without guidance who would know? When it became time to get my first office, I basically didn’t exist on paper LOL. I laughed it off. But for that reason, on paper, my company is a few years old, but the reality is that it’s been around since 2011 silently by 2015 it had taken off.
Have you had any major setbacks along the way, or did you have a moment where you wish you’d done something differently?
I review all of my setbacks or challenging moments. I literally study them. I study the move I made, the thought process behind it, why I felt at the time it was a good move and I’ll check it out of myself if I find that the misstep began with me or my way of thinking or even worse, my refusal to ask for help early on…I just didn’t think I could afford it and didn’t want to ask people to work for free so I was my own picker and packer, my own web designer, my own email campaign manager, etc.
What’s your best piece of advice for women looking to work or build a career in your field?
I think the best advice I can give is going to be based on my journey obviously…I say dive right in. You’ll learn to swim.
What’s something you wish your younger self had known when you were just starting out?
I don’t have any wishes, regrets or anything. I think everything both good and bad was required for this journey to evolve to this point.
What one thing do you wish someone had told you before you started your business?
Anything. No one told me anything. There was no one to ask for advice. I’m sure any guidance may have been useful, but I also don’t want to detract from what I invested in learning things on my own. I feel I learn best when I’m thrown to the sharks.
Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. How has your social media platforms helped and/or hurt your career?
Instagram has helped my career tremendously. It gave us a storefront and a way to interact with others. It hasn’t harmed me much. I can’t think of anyways it’s been harmful.
Instagram is usually used to show a positive highlight reel of what’s going on in your career. What are some of the less glamorous things and tasks you don’t usually get to share with your audience?
I don’t get to share how easy it is for a brand to not have the proper hired help. I don’t get to share how some people just aren’t able to go on the journey with us or how some employees aren’t thinking of ways to grow the brand but more so of their check on Friday and how much that behavior can actually set an entire team back. I wasn’t the best employee growing up – my devotion was first to my daughter. I have a soft spot for single moms because I was there, but I quickly learned why even my best bosses had to focus on the goal and stop considering my personal life so much as that can be a detriment to the organization.
Walk us through what a typical workday looks like for you.
A typical workday is playing around in formulas and products, meeting with the product development team to ensure things are moving along, meeting with our marketing team to ensure we are hitting high on launch creatives, meeting with partners such as Ulta or Essence to plan for some type of event, speaking life into my daughter to keep her hungry and motivated and then ending the night with more work. I wish I could turn it off, but I am just in love with Beauty Bakerie and I still can’t believe I’m living my dream.