So, I began the very long process of starting Minori. But thanks to John Izzo’s book and the epiphany it inspired, I was able to remove the fear element, which really helped.
Allure: Where did you start? Can you walk us through the process?
Bezrukova: It is a terrifying process. We kind of had to accept that we were going to spend every single penny we owned. My husband and I did it together. We put all of our savings into the company. We even moved back to Montreal with our parents — at the ripe age of 31! We gave up our apartment in San Francisco and let our moms make food for us while we worked towards Minori. It was humbling and not at all the glamorous idea many people have of starting a cosmetic line. But it was the best decision we ever made. We had 10 months of focused Minori-building boot camp. Now we’re back in San Francisco and we’re so glad that we did this.
Anyway, we did it little by little, because if we had to cover everything upfront it would never have happened. So we built it slowly, starting with hiring an amazing designer.
Allure: Interesting that you started with design and not the product itself. What inspired that?
Bezrukova: Our plan was to have the presentation we would show manufacturers be as prepared and buttoned-up as possible. We knew that if we spent money upfront on getting the design and branding up to a certain level, we could win the manufacturers’ confidence. Minimum order quantities are about 5,000 to 10,000 units per shade, and even though we were able to find a partner who believed in us and gave us a good deal, that down payment for inventory was the first really big, scary payment.
We bootstrapped everything up until now. Now we’re doing a friends and family fundraising round and have two investors. You really need to have a network of people who will help because you will run out of funds. To be clear, there’s a big difference between a loan and an investment. You want to make sure that people who are investing in your company are comfortable with the risk. We’re building this for the long term, so people who are putting in $10,000 or $20,000, know that money will be in this company for a very very long time. They should be able to be silent partners who enjoy participating, seeing it grow, giving advice, and contributing in terms of their expertise. Those types of Angel investors do it because they are comfortable with a certain risk.