Ep 2: Eva Jane stands out in the crowd

Learn how to stand out among the competition.

Eva Jane Stands Out In the Crowd

Featuring: Small Business Owner Eva Jane Bunkley, and PR Expert Chelsea Whittington

On Episode 2 of This Is Small Business, host Andrea Marquez sits down with Eva Jane Bunkley, Founder of The Makeup Bullet and Eva Jane Beauty, to discuss her journey as a solo-preneur in the world of beauty products. From those first moments of inspiration (like problem solving on live television), to finding the courage it takes to declare yourself “open for business,” to making sure your audience knows who you are - this episode covers how to make sure your small business stands out from the competition. With some critical insights from PR expert, Chelsea Whittington, CEO of C. WHITT PR about creative ways to get your story heard, Andrea gathers some vital information for the next chapter of her small business playbook.

Eva Jane at a small business expo.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:07] CHELSEA: I say people support people, not necessarily products all the time. And when they hear your personal story behind it, the passion, all the things that you have gone through to get to this point and how you're still struggling and trying to build and grow, they're more likely to support you.

[00:00:26] HOST: Hi I'm Andrea Marquez -- and This is Small Business – a podcast by Amazon. I have a bit of a confession to make. While I do come from a long line of entrepreneurs and small business owners, I don't actually KNOW that much about small business. But -- I really, really want to learn, so that maybe one day -- I can start my own. So, on this show -- I'm making it my "business" to find out everything I can about what it takes to turn a great idea into a small business by asking small business owners themselves and focusing in on the pivotal moments, decisions, and challenges they are going through. [00:01:00]  I wanna know how to think scrappy and small --and of course -- how to grow and succeed. By the end of this episode I will recap everything we learn today into tangible, actionable takeaways for you to use in your small business journey.

On today's show -- as you just heard -- I've got an incredible expert lined up. Chelsea Whittington is the Chief Executive Officer at C WHITT PR -- a busy and successful PR Agency. She's gonna give you some great tips on how to promote your small business later in the show.

But first -- I want to start with a simple but critical question. As a small business, how do you stand out-- amongst all the competition that's out there?

To help me answer that, I’m speaking to EVA JANE BUNKLEY, a 2x Emmy Award Winning Makeup Artist, and the founder of Eva Jane Beauty, [00:02:00] a line of makeup tools for "Making Beauty Easier".

[00:01:55] HOST: I actually connected with Eva Jane because of her participation in Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator, [00:02:00] which is dedicated to helping build sustainable diversity and provide growth opportunities for Black-owned businesses. Black owned-businesses can grow their business with access to financial support, strategic business guidance and mentorship, and marketing and promotional support. Eva Jane is a one-woman solo-preneur and I 'd heard she was going toe-to-toe with some pretty big manufacturers -- not to mention thousands of online makeup influencers. So, I was curious about her journey to try and get her products noticed in such a crowded field.

 [00:02:37] ANDREA: I love your product. I love what you stand for, your mission, your vision, everything. So I kinda want you to take us through it and hear some of the milestones of the journey to becoming a small business owner.

[00:02:50] EVA: Sure. So,I was a freelance makeup artist, of course, heavily service-based in that space. I worked in television. [00:03:00] But I was on set one time at one of the stations and I was preparing a woman. She had to get to set quickly. News is live. There's no grace, it's a hard out, they have to get out there. And I tend to be kind of a messy artist. I like to spread things out. Things are all over the place. And my go-to tool is my blending sponge. I love just how a nice supple and malleable sponge can kind of blend that foundation or make corrections. And I just needed to do some finishing touches on her face. And I realized that among the melee, I could not find where I put the sponge I was using on her. And I'm just searching, you know, and time is ticking down. And seconds can seem like minutes or hours when it comes to news and when it comes to live TV. And she's getting nervous in the chair and I'm starting to get nervous because I'm like, I can't find the sponge. Oh my God, did I drop it? [00:04:00] And the thought just popped in my head. If I had this thing attached to my finger, then I wouldn't be looking for it. You know, that'd be one less thing and I can save time and I just kind of put a pin in it and I was like, huh, a sponge on my finger. That would be pretty cool. And that was kind of the origin story of the makeup bullet. It was just being in a moment and wanting to solve a problem.

[00:04:26] ANDREA: So, you had this idea. When was it that you decided to take it from an idea to a reality and, like, what was the journey to saying “I'm going all in”?

[00:04:38] EVA: Really, I got in my way more than anything else, the doubts creep in, you know, when you have that epiphany, you're like, oh my God, this would be amazing. And then all of the other voices come in, like, that'll be hard. Can you do it? Do you have enough money? You know, will other people like it? Because one thing that I knew about myself was [00:05:00] I was great creatively. I'm like, I'm a great creative person, but if I ever go in business, I'm going to need a partner because I don't know that side of it. I need somebody that's going to be the numbers and all that. And so that was weighing on me and in the back of my mind, like, I don't know if I could do this by myself. Because I really didn't have the confidence that I would be able to do it and see it through cause it was just such uncharted territory for me. So that, it took me almost about 10 years from when I had that epiphany to actually doing it.

[00:05:34] ANDREA: Ten years...


..., wow!

[00:05:37] EVA: It was almost like 10 years. But it wouldn't leave me alone. It nagged at me and nagged at me and, finally, it was just the encouragement of somebody who was in the very niche, beauty tool industry. Shana King, she was amazing. She worked with a company that manufactured makeup brushes, [00:06:00] and she said, you know, Eva, she said, I have been all over the world and I've traveled, looking at shows, so I've never seen anything like this. She said you could be sitting on a gold mine. You need to go ahead and do this. And just that one little bit of encouragement, amazingly, pushed all of the fears and the trepidation and the hesitations and the woulda coulda shouldas aside that were in my heart. I met her in January of 2012. And by December I had my first prototype in my hand for the makeup bullet and that, following May, I was in New York, launching my product at the makeup show to my peers, other professional makeup artists, and it was a hit!

[00:06:48] ANDREA: Eva Jane, I'm kind of curious, what was it about Shana that helped you? Was it because she had this experience? Was it because she was also as a business owner? What?

[00:06:57] EVA: I think. When I, I just met a [00:07:00] perfect stranger who was very, very entrenched in the industry, very well-connected and she didn't want anything from me, you know, she just wanted to encourage me and let me know that "I think this is going to be a winner."

She said, like you need to do this yesterday. Like do it. So, at that point there was no way that I was just going to just sit on it because the voice was getting louder and louder.

[00:07:27] ANDREA: And also, you realized you don't need the numbers partner that you thought you needed, and it's something that you can do yourself.

[00:07:34] EVA: Exactly. That was the other thing. I mean, we, we are very good at telling ourselves what we can't do sometimes. Who knows what, what your full potential is. You could take yourself on a wonderful adventure.

[00:07:46] ANDREA: So, I mean, I am not a small business owner myself.  I think a lot of that comes from that courage because I could definitely relate to what you said at the beginning. I am not a numbers person. [00:08:00] And I always think if I did have a great idea, I would need someone to help me out with that because I don't even know where to begin.

But what I am hearing and understanding is your challenges and your goals will definitely change with your business. Eva Jane right now with the makeup bullet, what would you say is one of the biggest challenges you're facing?

[00:08:20] EVA: I'd say being on the other end of the bell curve, you know, when you are the new shiny thing, everybody wants you, you know, so if you can outlast that point where it just becomes, not the new shiny thing. And everybody's like, "oh yeah, I've seen that." Then you're doing all right. I've gotten lots of advice. Like, okay, now you've got to launch the next thing and the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. And I'm like, okay. But the next thing has to make sense. It has to fit in with my mission. Like my mantra is "Making Beauty Easier." I truly want to give tools to people that [00:09:00] they can really enjoy their lives and not have to sit in the makeup mirror forever, struggling to make themselves look presentable. You know, most women they're going to spend about four to six minutes. I'm like, if I can empower people who don't have natural artistic ability to walk out the door and be confident, not, you know, “I'm self-conscious”, then I've succeeded. And that's what brings me joy.

[00:09:26] ANDREA: And I am one of those women. I am your target audience. Definitely. I do depend a lot on professionals and I try doing my makeup the fastest way I can, that it doesn't look awful. So, I've seen how the beauty industry... it's exploded. Like I am now a fan of all of these like beauty influencers, even if I'm not a person who knows how to do my makeup, just like the idea of looking at these people who do their makeup for an hour every day. How has it been for you to break into something so crowded [00:10:00] where there's people that have, and all of these, like celebrities that are making all of these tools, as you say, or launching their new makeup brands and it's, there's so much, how has that been for you?

[00:10:14] EVA: I am an individual and I feel that I have something to offer to other people that is different from what anybody else does. I'm unique. So therefore, I'm not going to say, oh, I'm not going to come out with this product because there's similar things in the market or whatever. I'm offering it in a way that nobody else can because it's coming from Eva Jane. So, I struggle a little with the whole social media and getting out there and paint in my face all the time and showing people but I'm working on that side of it too.

[00:10:48] HOST: Standing out is not an easy feat. Especially since there is so much information being constantly thrown at us. And in the beauty industry, it sounds like shelf space (both physical and digital) is key. [00:11:00] Branding, and how the product fits into that space in a unique and distinguishable way might be a good place to start so that it doesn’t get confused with other similar products.

[00:11:11] EVA: When I created the makeup bullet, shortly thereafter, like in a year or so, I walk in a big brand store and then there were products that were obviously meant to, to kind of solve for what I was already solving for. Then came the dupes that were outright, just knockoffs of the makeup bullet. So if you just heard, "oh, there's this sponge that fits on a finger now," and you walked into one of these big retailers and you saw it, you'd be like, "oh, that must be the thing that people are talking about."

And you'd be, you'd be fooled.And then you'd go, oh, this isn't so great because the experience isn't going to be as great. And then you just write off my product, probably like, oh yeah, I've tried one of those finger sponges, but no, you have not tried the finger sponge. The one [00:12:00] that started all, the one that was designed to really make your makeup application easier.

[00:12:05] ANDREA: Because you knew that something like that would happen, how did you prepare for that?

[00:12:09] EVA: Build up my brand and let people hear my heart behind why I release anything. Why I attached my name, Eva Jane, to anything. The makeup bullet, I guess the main regret I have is when I first did the packaging, I did not put my image on it. I did not even put my name on the box. I put nothing really about me. It says like "created by an Emmy award winning makeup artist." And I was watching one review and the girl was looking at it. She was like, "I wonder who it was, man. I love this product, but I wonder who created it?" You know, and I put this, this kind of bad girl looking blonde white model on the box. Cause I was like, I don't want people to think it was quote unquote, an "ethnic" beauty product. It's an "everybody" beauty product. And it was just slightly before the very strong [00:13:00] Black Girl Magic movement and, you know, we were on everything and it was just kind of before that so I was, just kind of like, I'd like to be behind the scenes. I'd like to just push this product out. I'd like for everybody to accept it. And I would say that. You didn't ask me the question, but I'm telling you that would be my main regret.

[00:13:21] ANDREA: I really appreciate you sharing that. So if I were to mirror back what you shared, you: (1) doubled down on making your product stand out in terms of quality, then (2) focused on distinguishing your brand and attaching it to your name/your profile, and (3) your top lesson learned is to put yourself front and center – you are part of what makes your product unique and customers will appreciate that. Anything else you’d recommend?

[00:13:49] EVA: You know, challenges are always going to be there. It's going to be new level, new devil. And it's just like, you gotta just deal with them and take them as they, as they come. It's like [00:14:00] fight as much as you can, and then just make sure it's not anchoring you in such a way that it's preventing you from progressing. That's what I want to encourage people to, to look at.

[00:14:14] ANDREA: Cause at the end of the day, how can you keep iterating? And keeping in mind how your product can get better to address a need in the customer’s life. Which is a way to stay ahead of copy cats.

[00:14:26] EVA: Totally, totally.

[00:14:28] ANDREA: And well, right now the, the beauty industry, I think it's rebranded itself to be very much about self-care. It's not just about how do you look most beautiful, but making sure that you feel beautiful as well. And if you could go back, you said, you'd change that cover to include your image. And so moving forward, I think, would you say that this is something you're going to start incorporating more into everything you do in the business side of things, making sure that people know who Eva Jane is and why she's creating these products?

[00:15:00] EVA: Yeah, definitely. You know, just trying to figure out how do I incorporate my story more? So, am I gonna put my name on the next iteration of packaging? Yes. Right now. I'd say the priority is to continue to expand my brand and get into not just the tools side of it, but also the color cosmetics. I have an eyebrow gel and eye gel that's coming out. That is kind of a dual purpose. I, I very much believe in things in your beauty kit, being able to solve, not just one problem, but two or three. So, um, being able to, to do two different things with one product, I think is, one thing I've, I've focused on lately when it comes to introducing more products to the Eva Jane line.

[00:15:50] ANDREA: So, introducing more products as part of, also, the strategy you're taking in the next steps to grow your business.

[00:15:56] EVA: And, and it's been working. It really has. [00:16:00] I've seen my, sales on Amazon, just jump because, you know, people see, "oh, you have a store here on Amazon. you know, the makeup bullet." And if that's all there was, it's like, "okay, I'll see you again when I need another makeup bullet". But if you see that there are other solutions I have that work in with, "oh yeah, I need to enhance my eyes. Oh, you have something for that." And so, I, I am seeing that now that I've launched some brushes and my silicone detail angle brush people are just adoring. And I, I love that. So, anything that I put out there I've, I've thought about why it needs to be included. I've thought about the why's behind it.

[00:16:40] Andrea: So in addition to the other things we’ve talked about, standing out over time also includes retaining customers. And you do that best when you think about expanding your product line within the brand you’ve already carefully curated. Do you [00:17:00] have any resources you’d recommend?

[00:17:02] EVA: So, when I was approached by the, Black Business Accelerator through Amazon to, to become a part of that cohort, I said, "oh, yes", because this was something that I desired to do. Here's the thing. I have goals that to some, my goals are small, you know, they're small steps to, to, to test things out and to try things out. Like I just want to, I'm selling about six products on Amazon, not even thinking about it in a month. I want to get up to 100 products in a month. And I looked this morning and it was up to like 135 products in the last month. And I'm like, oh my goodness. Like, what I'm doing is working.

But just being able, to have that coaching has, has been awesome. So, I very much believe in Accelerators as a small business owner. So, you don't have to think, oh, I'm just a creative, I don't know the numbers because you really, when you do start your business, you're not doing it alone [00:18:00] if you seek out those resources that are low cost, no cost all around you.

[00:18:09] ANDREA: ...and there are many of those.

[00:18:12] EVA: There are many, of those. There are many, so Andrea, are you ready to start your small business?

[00:18:19] ANDREA: Great question! Well… I know there are plenty of existing resources for when I do. So, I know it’s important to take advantage of coaching, mentorship, and accelerator opportunities, and also being part of communities that can give me feedback to keep learning, iterating, and building an even better strategy or product.  

Eva Jane, thank you so much for being with us today. And I'm excited to see where the makeup bullet goes or what other products you bring to life using your voice, your brand. And hopefully now your face will be on the box. So, we all know where it's coming from.

[00:18:58] EVA: I really appreciate this opportunity. [00:19:00] It's been fun talking to you. So thank you so much.

[00:19:10] HOST: MIDPOINT: You're listening to This is Small Business -- brought to you by Amazon. I'm your host Andrea Marquez. On this show, I want to take you guys through my journey of figuring out what it takes to start a small business today by asking small business owners themselves and focusing on the pivotal moments, decisions, and challenges they are going through.

Did you know that more than half of the products sold on Amazon come from small-and-medium sized businesses? Eva Jane, who you just heard, is one of the many small businesses selling on Amazon who have tapped into some of the tools and resources offered to help them succeed and grow. You can learn more about them in our show notes on our website ThisisSmallBusinesspodcast.com.

I hope you've been enjoying my conversation so far.

So … how do you rise above all the noise, and competition? [00:20:00] To talk this over -- I reached out to Chelsea Whittington. Chelsea is the CEO of C. WHITT PR -- where she develops public relations and social media strategies for an impressive range of clients. I figured she'd know a thing or two about how to get your story out there. So, I started by asking her this:

[00:20:20] ANDREA: In 2022, where we are being thrown so much information constantly through different mediums, how do I stand out as a small business in an already established and very competitive industry?

[00:20:32] CHELSEA: That is an excellent question. And that's when we start talking about the storytelling piece of it, whatever your product might be, and you are experiencing difficulty in standing out, I say, go back to the source that inspired you to create the product in the first place. Was it named for a loved one? Did you overcome a tragedy? Did you stumble across this? And now proceeds are benefiting a [00:21:00] nonprofit. Did it inspire someone else along the way? And now that person becomes an ambassador to help again, ignite your brand? Also, what is your, your product or service evolving into? So maybe what it started off looking like two or three years prior. Now it may have an additional feature. There may be additional offerings. Does it come in a new color? And are there individuals whom you can even on a smaller budget -- be your influencer nation, the endorsers, those who can say "I use this product and I like it better than any other in the market, because, and have a strong, "because." Why is your product so much better than everyone else?

Would it be the ingredients? Would it be the time that it takes to get that product to line versus the competition if you will? Because we always know, even in my line of business, there's somebody [00:22:00] coming for me and I have to be ready and I have to be able to make myself stand out. And I say, when you put your story on it and when I buy your product every time I get it, I think about "Wow --that's that little girl that made that sacrifice" or "the one who graduated college and was determined to be an entrepreneur. And now she has done it." Because people love a good triumphant story when you've overcome obstacles to get to your success. So that's what comes to mind when I think about those who are challenged with making themselves stand out. Your genuine passion will come out. If you continue to push it consistently.

[00:22:41] ANDREA: And this does not happen overnight.

[00:22:43] CHELSEA: It does not.

[00:22:46] ANDREA: So once I've injected myself, is that enough?

[00:22:47] CHELSEA: It'll never be enough if you're truly passionate about what you do, you will find yourself reinventing adding on, on a regular basis. Otherwise, how will we ever grow? [00:23:00] And you have to stay on top of the trends in your specific discipline. I studied people who do what I do better than what I do so that I can learn. What are the tricks of the trade? What are people talking about in my industry right now? How I can make myself relevant right down to what's happening in the news today. There are some businesses that have become successful overnight, just because they had a product or service that met a need that happened to align with what was going on in the world today. And so, to me that says there are countless [00:28:00] opportunities. If we are persistent, we're willing to research our competition and we're willing to continue to re-invent ourselves no matter how long it takes.

[00:23:48] ANDREA: When do I know that it's time to hire someone like you, an expert like yourself to help me with PR marketing and rebranding after I've done all of this, of course.

[00:23:58] CHELSEA: Yes. So, the first thing I tell potential clients [00:24:00] is beware of hiring professional help if you are not ready to deliver. So, if that person hires PR to do outreach on all of the different areas we talked about from media relations, email marketing, social media, grassroots, all of these things. Will you be able to meet the demand? If the answer is "yes" -- you've checked that box. The next thing is take a look at your own personal efforts. Have you gotten some media coverage? What does it look like? Is it just local or have you gotten some regional and national hits that are of great significance? If you have not been able to achieve that on your own, that's another sign to say, okay, I probably will need some professional help.

And having those contacts. That's another key thing as far as having contacts with the media. So, your everyday person can't just call a newsroom and say, "Hey, Bob it’s Chels. I got a great story for you. Can I have your ear? [00:25:00] Can we talk?" And so, relationships are priceless. If you don't have those connections and have found yourself in a stagnant place where I'm just not getting that type of traction. My social media following is just not being built. Those are the types of signs that you need to hire a professional and what we will find as small business owners, we do everything. From unlocking the door in the morning sometimes to counting the change in the register before the shift begins. So, I understand time is also a factor when you don't have time to promote yourself and people don't know you're there, then it's time to get some help. And it doesn't always have to be somebody like me. There are students right now sitting in classes, in universities, across this country, they're learning the science of marketing and how to build. And so, if you don't have that big giant budget, maybe it's that intern who in exchange for a small stipend, [00:26:00] exposure to your brand, as well as perhaps school credit can also assist in your promotional efforts. And then that way, you know, that someone is posting on your behalf each day, someone is helping to build your following on a regular basis.

[00:26:16]  ANDREA: Talk to me a little bit more about what it means when the brand is an extension of yourself.

[00:26:24]  CHELSEA: When your brand is an extension of you, the opportunities for creativity are endless because no one knows you better than you. So, if you want to insert emotion in your messaging, if you want to insert tears in your messaging, happy moments in your messaging all while again, taking your consumers and potential customers along for the ride, you can do it, especially if the product bears your name, and so it becomes personal. My brand is an extension of me. It's like your family member. And so, I always [00:27:00] encourage business owners when they want to shy away from being the face of the brand, they feel like it's arrogant, I say people support people, not necessarily products all the time. And when they hear your personal story behind it, the passion, all the things that you have gone through to get to this point and how you're still struggling and trying to build and grow, they're more likely to support you. So be all in for your brand, whatever it takes and tell that story and keep telling it. You got to keep pushing it in every angle, every audience and every opportunity thrown your way.

[00:27:38] HOST: That was Chelsea Whitt, CEO of C. WHITT PR.

Some of the key takeaways for strengthening your small business brand and standing out among the competition that I’m adding to my small business playbook after speaking to Eva Jane and Chelsea are:

  • Before you even begin telling your brand story, make sure your product stands out in terms of quality. People need to not only see your investment in quality but also feel it and trust that your product will deliver as promised.
  • Then, leverage your personal brand story to add depth [00:28:00] to your product or brand, which will pull in customers. People connect to stories and will remember you or your product more and find value in what you offer.
  • Before you hire professional help for promoting your product, make sure you are ready to deliver because even getting help with marketing and promotion will require work as a small business owner to have enough product ready to ship, and in the quality you promise customers.
  • And last but not least. A good time to hire some PR help would be when you are in a stagnant place and have tried a lot out on your own but don’t seem to be gaining traction where you aren’t able to put your story out there and reach new customers.

 [00:29:00] On the next episode -- I'll be talking to a woman who started the world’s first zero waste beauty line. Meanwhile-- don't forget to subscribe to our podcast so you can be up to date with new episodes, let us know what you think by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or email us at (thisissmallbusiness@amazon.com) with episode ideas,– and if you like what you heard, tell your friends about us too!

That's it for today on This is Small Business. I'm Andrea Marquez -- thanks for listening.

CREDITS: This is Small Business is brought to you by Amazon, with audio and story production from JAR Audio. [00:29:54]


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