Ashley Bass and Ana Buford say their business partnership was written in the stars. The two knew each other in high school, but lost touch, until they reconnected on Instagram in 2018, bonding over their desire to build a business. After brainstorming, the two budding entrepreneurs decided to merge their passion for beauty and astrology to develop Astra Beauty, a line of color cosmetics that is clean, cruelty-free and vegan with formulas that are steeped in crystals with the goal of harnessing its energy. The duo invested $10,000 of their own funds to finance the line, which they share 50/50, and officially launched in January 2019 with eye lashes and highlighters (the highlighters are being reformulated and will relaunch in 2021). This month, Astra Beauty entered into the lip category with Astra Gloss, a line energized with sunstone crystals, which the brand founders said is known to aid in building confidence and promoting self-empowerment. The gloss is available in three shades: Space Barbie, a sparkling, baby pink shade; Natal Nude, a sheer neutral; and Crystal Clear, a glass-like finish that can be paired or worn alone. Here, CEW Beauty News spoke to the founders to learn about the challenges they faced launching the brand, marketing plans and advice for fellow entrepreneurs.

Beauty News: Who is your target audience?
Ashley Bass: Our target audience is spiritually inclined consumers who wear makeup. We are for the men and women who wake up in the morning and read their astrological chart before doing anything else. They probably burn sage and are in-tune with their inner selves. They value looking good and are into beauty and fashion. Nails on point, hair slayed, and outfit dripping – extra always. The age range we are targeting is 20 to 30 years old, and while we are targeting females primarily, we are inclusive to males in beauty. Also, our consumer values are luxury, spirituality, self-care and beauty.

BN: How are you raising awareness?
Ana Buford: We are currently raising awareness through our social media channels, with a strong focus on Instagram and Facebook. We have partnered with influencers who will be receiving products and have a few upcoming features in blogs and magazines. We are also pitching podcasts.

BN: How has your business been impacted by current events?
Ashley: The pandemic has negatively impacted our business. We actually had to shut down for a while. We used to sell vegan and cruelty-free lashes but our vendor was forced to close the business due to COVID. We had to completely rethink our business and how we wanted to move forward.
Ana: Black Lives Matter has positively impacted our business and the support from our community has gone up drastically. It has also opened more doors to get into retailers.

BN: What has been your biggest challenges when launching the brand?
Ana: The biggest challenge has been converting followers and supporters to sales. We do a lot of email follow ups, re-targeting, homing in on the proper audience, and relatable content creation.

BN: What advice do you have for someone starting a brand?
Ana: Delegate! You can’t do everything by yourself – you need other people. Research. Really know the ins and out of your brand and the industry you will be going into. Have Goals. What are the goals for your company? Where do you see your company? Figure that out then work backwards to get there.
Ashley: Don’t get discouraged. Life is about lessons. If something doesn’t work, re-evaluate and try another method.