Today we’d like to introduce you to René Graham.
René, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m an architect from Texas that has no business being in cosmetics! The only reason I’m here is because I got tired of digging through my messy makeup bag. No matter what I did to keep it organized, it always seemed like I’d be dumping it out to find what I needed, carrying around six eyeshadow shades as part of a palette when I really only needed three, and ruining perfectly good brushes that got crammed at the bottom of the bag. Finally one day I got annoyed enough I decided to try to come up with a solution. As an architect I’m trained to resolve problems spatially, so the idea started to take shape around efficiency of space. I tallied up the amount of actual product I was putting on my face versus what I had to carry around, and I quickly realized: there’s so much inefficiency here…I can fix this!
I came up with the idea of modular makeup, or interchangeable makeup Pods that fit together like LEGOs, each LEGO (or “Pod”) filled with its own makeup product. Fit together just the LEGO pieces you need. I sketched it out a few times and again used my architecture skills to create some early 3D printed prototypes to test the idea. Sure enough, it worked! Before I took it to anyone in the cosmetics industry, I decided to first file a patent to protect my idea. Since then, I’ve been learning everything I can about the cosmetic industry and figuring out how to bring a product to market. It’s been a challenge, but a grand adventure as well. Seven trips to China, five trips to LA, three trips to NYC and one successful crowdfunding campaign later…this ship has set sail and there’s no turning back!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I wish! It has been a roller-coaster, to say the least. To name a few bumps in the road: I had an investor back out at the eleventh hour, I’ve had just about every production & manufacturing problem you can think of (including over 60% of one batch failing quality control checks!), I became subject to the Trump/China tariffs which wreaked havoc with my entire business model…to say the least it is really hard to launch a product and factor in all the potential problems. But with every hiccup and miscalculation, there is a lesson to be learned. I take those in stride, evolve, and do better the next time. As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Renzoe Box – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My company is called Renzoe Box®, and we are the solution to the messy makeup bag. We make modular makeup pods (Renzoe Pods®) that fit together into a hardshell carrying case, the Renzoe Box®. We fill Renzoe Pods® with any brand and shade of pressed powder our customer chooses, so they can customize a palette of products to suit their beauty routine. For example, you can have a Lancome foundation, a NARS blush, and MAC eyeshadows all in one palette. It is a refillable system, meaning the Pods can be switched out whenever you run out, or if you want to swap out colors. The Renzoe Box® also has a large mirror, storage space made especially for brushes, and an open storage compartment for creams, liquids or tube products like lipstick, mascara, eyeliner. All-in-all, its a sleek, organized replacement for your makeup bag.
What sets us apart is that we can offer our Pods with any brand and shade. Most palettes you can only customize with a single brand, which is very frustrating!
I’d have to say I’m most proud of the design of the Renzoe Box®. It’s sleek and elegant, but also very functional and efficient. I have tried to achieve the same qualities in buildings I have worked on, but I have yet to be able to point at a particular project and say to myself “yes! I think I did it!” Renzoe Box® is the first time I’ve been able to successfully encapsulated those qualities within a single object. And I’m so happy I get to share it with the world!
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
To me, success has to do with social impact, personal growth, and financial independence, in that order.
I first ask myself if what I’m doing is good for society at large. Does it have a positive impact? Am I helping people, am I making their lives better, am I creating something that does good? If the answer is yes, that’s the leading indicator of success in my book!
Then I ask myself if it has been a good journey for me. Have I grown and learned something new? Am I being or going to be challenged and stretched in new ways? I believe if we’re not growing, we’re stagnant and therefore dying. It’s important to me to keep learning.
And lastly, as a female professional, financial independence is an imperative part of having the freedom to choose my own path in life. Without it, I would have to rely on family or others, and I don’t want to be a burden to them. I also pride myself on being able to pick myself up by my own bootstraps to get things done. So I always ask myself, is this a path towards financial independence? Does it help build personal assets and long-term stability?
If I can honestly answer “yes” to all of these, then I know I’m headed in the right direction!
- Renzoe Box Starter Kit (includes Renzoe Box, Premium Fiber brush set, two Eyeshadow Pods & one Blush Pod by Kismet Cosmetics, Velveteen travel duster bag) $149
- Website: www.renzoebox.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/renzoebox
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/renzoebox
Mira Visu Photography, Becca Matimba Photography, Renzoe Box