Small Business Tour: Powder Beauty Co.
Business profile

Small Business Tour: Powder Beauty Co.

Name: Joy Terrell

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Business: Powder Beauty Co.

Joy Terrell

Tell us about your business. 

 I started Powder Beauty Co. because I fell in love with dip powder, which is our hero service. It's what we're known for. My mom has always had these long, beautiful nails that she kept painted a classic red. And I always thought they just ooze grace and elegance. Mine were always short and stubby—I was a nail biter and that only got worse in law school. 

One day I walked into a nail salon in Atlanta and I was complaining to them that I'd tried everything to grow my nails out and to stop biting them and nothing ever worked. One of the technicians swore that dip powder would solve my problems. I didn't believe her, but I tried it and 8 to 10 weeks later, my natural nails were long and beautiful.  I was in shock that a product or a process could work that quickly. 

When I moved to Los Angeles, I had a hard time finding a traditional dip powder salon in LA proper. And my husband jokingly said, "That's a business right there." And  at first it sounded crazy, but the idea of building a business and a brand based on something that changed my life was intriguing. 

What was your first big win? 

When we had our first beautiful feature in the Angeleno magazine for Modern Luxury. It was awesome because we didn't have a PR team. It was just word of mouth, it was just clients that had had great experiences. They were talking about us and somehow it got us in there. And at that point, it felt real. It felt like a win and that was cool.

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I represent a community of black-owned and women-owned businesses and I don’t want to give up.

What keeps you motivated?

Our clients. It's really awesome to see our clients have the same nail transformation that I had. People often come into a Powder Beauty Co. with really damaged nails and bad situations because they've been going to salons that really haven't cared.  They come in with nubby, crazy looking nails, and months later, they're long and beautiful and  they're so proud of them. That feels good. And I know how it feels because I experienced that myself.

I also represent a community of black-owned and women-owned businesses and I don't want to give up. It's a weight that I carry, but it also makes me proud.

What are some challenges you had to overcome in your first year of business?

Being black and a business owner—that obviously brings its own set of challenges. Everything from finding a space, to getting loans, to being taken seriously, to not having to conform to, "I'm a black business so therefore I must only cater to a black audience or I must only be based in a black neighborhood."  And so just understanding and accepting and convincing myself that it's okay to branch out. And to know that the possibilities are endless and I'm not relegated to just being a certain way because I'm a certain color.  I can have an audience that is diverse because we have a good product and good service. 

But it's tough. My business email initially featured a photo of myself, and when I started dealing with different vendors, I wasn't getting the best responses and I knew it wasn't a lack of professionalism on my end. And so I was like, "Hmm, I wonder if it has anything to do with my picture and the fact that I'm black." So I turned myself into a purple flower instead of the picture of myself. There was an immediate difference in the responses. It's kind of disturbing, but it's true. And sometimes you have to do what you have to do, to be able to get a fair shake.

What are some tools that have helped you get your business off the ground?

I've been using QuickBooks just for about two years and I wish I'd started using it sooner. We lost our first bookkeeper who had been getting a handle on our books manually, so when he was gone, we lost all of that data. I obviously wished that we had started with QuickBooks sooner because it protects data and it backs everything up.

I can also see how things are working out in real-time. I can monitor my habits, the habits of the business—good and bad.  I think it's really cool to just be able to pivot based on something that you're seeing in real-time. I also really need the inventory tracking feature. There are so many products that we have to keep on hand in the nail salon industry. Imagine hundreds of gel colors, hundreds of dip powder colors, hundreds of polish colors. That doesn't include all of the other things that go into the day-to-day. QuickBooks allows me to manage that inventory and to track it and to really understand what we need, how much is going out, how quickly is it running out and that kind of stuff. That is just vital for my business.

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Feel confident from day one

You’re never too small, and it’s never too soon to know you’re on track for success.

How does being a business owner make you feel?

I find it empowering, but I also find it stressful. I think as a small business owner, you're constantly grinding on a never ending to-do list. So sleep is a rarity. At the end of the day, it falls on you. It’s tough, but it's also gratifying. 

What's cool about owning your own business is really seeing your ideas come to life. Because you're actually able to watch people experience the things that you come up with in your head. You see people try them out and you see their immediate reactions and that's cool. Watching your business grow is like raising a baby. Two years go by and you're like, "Oh, it was crawling and now it's starting to run." And that's cool. You look forward to what else is in store.

What’s next for Powder Beauty Co.?

We're launching a product line, so I'm really excited about that. 

If you could really throw yourself into one aspect of running a business, what would it be? What’s your favorite part?

It would definitely be just creating new ideas, new streams of revenue, doing cool partnerships—that bigger picture stuff. I like creating. Some people actually enjoy the day-to-day operations part. And that's the part that I've worked really hard on to try to get myself out of it, so that I can really focus on creation and expansion. And I see that light at the end of the tunnel, it's happening very soon,  and that makes me excited.

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