In 2011, sisters Stephi and Nicki Maron created Blushington, an experiential destination for makeup services. Using Drybar as their business and branding model, they opened their first coral-colored door in West Hollywood, California. Two additional stores followed, one in Newport Beach, Calif. and another in Dallas, Texas. Then came New York City. In 2015, Natasha Cornstein was named the company’s CEO. Since inception, Blushington has embraced and curated emerging brands, founded by women, while offering personalized beauty and makeup services. “We have taken our one store and created a national brand with a loyal following from coast to coast,” said Natasha, who was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. “We have achieved store level profitability in a very complex industry while staying true to our mission to provide makeup applications for women of all ages and backgrounds.” Last year the one-stop-beauty shop opened their sixth store, in Brentwood, Calif. Most recently, Blushington completed their 300,000th makeup application. Somehow, Natasha found time to talk with CEW Beauty News for our 5 Minutes with… feature.
Beauty News: What new directions are you taking to grow the company?
Natasha Cornstein: Guided by our customer’s requests, we have expanded our offering to include skin care services such as glycolic peels and mini facials, lash extensions, lash and brow tinting and brow maintenance. We recently added on-location hair services as well. We have expanded our retail experience, growing our female-founded brand edit from 15 brands to 40 brands and counting. We launched an ecommerce platform and hospitality partnerships and have created an unlimited monthly membership called Carte Blush to support our philosophy that feeling empowered and like the best version of yourself is for every day, not just special occasions.
BN: What’s your business approach to helping grow a successful company?
NC: My approach is to always be listening, learning, testing and trying new ideas, approaches and collaborations.
BN: What kind of market shift in your business category have you seen over the past year?
NC: An increased awareness and acceptance for having makeup done professionally ‘just because’ with no special occasion required. We’ve also seen growth in our teen customer base.
BN: What strategies are you using to reach a younger consumer?
NC: We’re focused on a multi-generational customer and are committed to personalizing our services to the individual versus courting a specific age group. We have makeup classes designed for all age groups that are incredibly popular and we offer private party options for our youngest of customers (sweet peas) to teens, to 70th birthday parties. We feel very strongly about serving multi-generational customers.
BN: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?
NC: Slowing down and taking the time to gather input from my team rather than rushing to accomplish a task or execute an idea. Building a highly collaborative, passionate and engaged team has been the greatest business lesson to date and everything has been more successful and more fun as a result.
BN: Greatest accomplishment so far?
NC: We employ more than 100 makeup artists and have provided a platform for our artists to do what they love the most. We are championing emerging brands founded by women and have been the very first retailer for many of them.
BN: What’s a specific business mistake you’ve made?
NC: I’ve had to learn that all that glitters isn’t gold. Last summer we opened a pop up in the Hamptons in New York and while it received great press and built awareness for our brand, we did not have a street level presence and struggled to meet our revenue objectives. In retrospect it diverted time and attention more than it helped.
Building a highly-collaborative, passionate and engaged team has been the greatest business lesson I’ve learned to-date. Everything has been more successful and more fun as a result.
BN: What beauty product (not your own) is your favorite?
NC: That’s like picking a favorite child. Here are some favorites I can’t live without: Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser; Angela Caglia Detox Serum; RMS Beauty Luminizer Quad; Everyhue Beauty Glow Perfect and Jouer Essential Lip Enhancer.
BN: Best advice for newbies entering beauty today?
NC: Speak to anyone and everyone. You’ll always learn something new if you’re listening. I sit at our reception desk and answer the phones at least one day per week. I speak to our team and customers and stay close to our day-to-day business. I learn more in the field in one day than in any report or email.
BN: What’s something no one tells you when starting a business?
NC: Nobody prepares you for how many times you will hear ‘no’ or that you will never make it. You have to believe in yourself, in your team and in your vision without fear of failure or fear of adjusting your plans.
BN: What’s a mantra you live by?
NC: A quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, which says that the future belongs to those that believe in the beauty of their dreams. I have this framed on my desk.
BN: If you were to write the note found in a fortune cookie, what would it say?
NC: Your next hello can become your future.