Merchant case study: Genn Shaughnessy
How this makeup artist turned her passion into a successful business with Blanka
ASCP Associated Skin Care Professionals
NYSASSP New York State Association Salon & Spa Professionals
Genn isn’t your typical makeup artist. With a successful makeup business, online academy, podcast and now a full cosmetics line underway, she is the ultimate beauty entrepreneur. In this article, we are going to dive into Genn’s story and what has helped shape her into the successful entrepreneur she is today. Plus, she’s going to share some tips on how other up-and-coming beauty entrepreneurs can find the same success she has found using private label dropshipping with Blanka.
The road to finding her passion
In her first year of college, Genn started working at a local gym where she befriended a colleague. Her colleague worked a second job at Estee Lauder as a makeup artist. Quickly, Genn started spending time with her coworker and discovered she also shared a passion for makeup. They would spend hours getting ready with friends, helping them with their hair and makeup before a night out. Eventually, her friend moved away, leaving an open role at Estee Lauder, which Genn quickly jumped at the opportunity to apply for. Since then, Genn has worked for the likes of Lancôme, Elizabeth Arden, Chanel and Mac.
Her favorite role was at MAC, where her career really took off. She loved that MAC stood out from the other brands, with a wide range of colors for everybody.
When I started working for MAC, that was really when everything came together. I really loved the products. I loved the clients. I loved the diversity; I loved the inclusivity where I could just be myself and everybody could be themselves and it was great to work with people for their true authentic being.
Makeup artist turned entrepreneur
There were a few pivotal moments that really stood out in Genn’s career. The first was when she started missing her daughter’s school performances and parties because she had to be at her makeup counter job. She needed more flexibility. At the same time, she started receiving a number of freelance requests and realized she could turn that into a full time career with the flexibility she needed for her family. She took the plunge as a freelance makeup artist and started doing weddings, runway shows and any other opportunities that came her way.
The second pivotal moment was when she had her son. “I got really sick in the hospital and it was one of those wake-up calls where I didn’t have a 401 K. I didn’t have anything set aside so I kind of took a detour and I ended up purchasing a consignment store.”
After a few years of running the consignment store, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. She started wondering: “What do I do now? What can be a next step? What’s the source of revenue that doesn’t have to be a brick-and-mortar store and be open? And how can I make more revenue online?”
Fortunately her consignment store also had an online Shopify store, so she decided to double down on ecommerce. After countless late nights researching everything to do with ecommerce, private label and dropshipping, she finally figured out what she wanted to do next: she would launch her own makeup line using private label drop ship. She found Blanka in the Shopify App Store and created an account.
When it came to starting her own cosmetics line, Blanka was exactly what she was looking for. “What really helped me was the level of customer service.“ In addition to selling her new makeup line on her online store using drop shipping, Genn was also able to order inventory to hold at her consignment store.
“In the boutique space, we have a really nice bookshelf retail display system and one of those is dedicated to our makeup line. It’s nice to have customers come in there who may not necessarily be there for makeup, they might be there for something else and it’s nice to have our own brand there representing us and I think it helps people get our new sense of respect for us because we’re not just there playing with makeup.”
She has also been able to increase her freelance sales by bringing her makeup line with her on location.
One of the things that I do a lot actually is I pack up all my stuff and I have to go on location and some of the jobs I work are for commercial production shows or TV shows, where the makeup is on display and it's a huge missed opportunity if it's not there because those are potential clients. We actually sell a lot of our products when I'm doing makeup on location which I find really interesting.
Advice for other makeup artists
We asked Genn what advice she had for other entrepreneurs and here is what she shared with us:
• Build a brand based on values: For Genn, that means authenticity and integrity.
• Go slow: “One of the things I struggle with is I come up with all these really great ideas but it’s more than I can handle and then I don’t know where to focus.”
• Delegate: “I really think that’s where a lot of businesses fail is they don’t delegate that responsibility and they want control over everything, so nothing gets done.”
If you’re an aspiring business owner, you’ll know that the entrepreneurial journey is one with a lot of ups and downs. From working at a gym to owning a consignment store, every experience helped shape Genn into the successful entrepreneur that she is today.