It’s Female Founder Friday and I’m delighted to share the startup story of international lawyer turned woman entrepreneur, Kristina Han. Kristina is the founder of Own Your Wonder (OYW) which is a company that provides a la carte makeup service that is affordable and accommodating to all skin tones and genders, without the traditional retail pressure one experiences at places such as Sephora and department store beauty counters. Think of it as Drybar for makeup. It’s a place you can drink coffee or champagne while someone else does your makeup for work, a big meeting, or a gala event. OYW is also much more than a makeup service; they have on-demand head shot photography available for clients and host weekly workshops and lessons where people can learn about new beauty trends and techniques.
I stopped by Own Your Wonder before a birthday brunch and had a lovely experience. It was the polar opposite of the time I went to the MAC counter for makeup and actually scared a child on my way out of the mall. Instead of leaving with thick layers of makeup that made me look like Barbie, I looked like a better, less tired version of myself. I highly recommend supporting a local woman-owned business by popping in with a friend for the Double Wonder (it’s $50 for you and a friend to be made over.)
So, if you’re curious how a Harvard graduate and former Olympic swimmer who hated applying makeup ended up founding a makeup bar in Georgetown or you’re looking for tangible business advice for startup moms, don’t miss Kristina’s answers below!
What inspired you to create your business?
I was inspired to create OYW because I don’t like putting makeup on and I am very bad at it, which made me wish that there was a place that I could outsource this necessity, especially when I had client meetings, presentations or interviews in my prior life as a lawyer.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
As a relatively new startup, I face challenges and obstacles everyday. But, in the beginning, when I was trying to move the business from just an idea to an actual brick and mortar store, my biggest hurdle was finding the right location and then convincing the landlord to take a chance on someone like me with no prior retail store experience.
One of my friends is a landlord and he was able to explain this to me in a lot more detail. He said that landlords have a large number of outgoings such as landlord insurance, and so they are often hesitant to take a gamble. It turns out that the insurance your landlord might need is essential as, without it, you are putting yourself at risk.
Landlord insurance policies typically cover the building and property, but they can also expand to liability coverage that can cover some legal fees. There is also income loss protection if a landlord is unable to rent out a room or building if it becomes uninhabitable for a certain amount of time. To learn more about landlord insurance, go to simplyinsurance.com.
What are you afraid of?
There are so many fears that keep me awake at night! The legal side of things for one. I don’t really know anything about business law, contracts or copyright, and that can all be a bit scary. When I spoke to my friend about it, she recommended these houston business attorneys. I did end up getting an attorney with a different firm in the end, and it really took a lot of the fear out of that side of things. But, my biggest concern is that customers are not happy with the service we provide due to something that is out of my control.
My next step is raising some fund from “friends and family” in order to boost our marketing efforts and to create an online space that our growing OYW community can maximize, which in turn, will help OYW grow its community outside DC. In order to dominate the online scene, we need to first establish a strong and reliable IT network. Online security and privacy are very important to us as we want to ensure the data our customers provide is safe. For this reason, we will likely be investing in a virtual private network for an added level of online security. To learn more about how a VPN could safeguard your business, take a look at this guide from websafetyadvice.com.
What is a life or business hack that you recommend to help other female founders?
This is specifically for those women who are mothers with young kids out there, who are trying to start/run a business at the same time. Simply put, you do you. You figure out what your own ecosystem of support and priorities are, which can be a process of trial and error. I don’t believe in “balancing” because it implies that work and family life are equal in value. I think it’s all about prioritizing and creating your own network of people who can support and help you, whether it’s your nanny, husband, friends, family or anyone else.
If you had a theme song what would it be?
I’m going to be really boring here, but it would be Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It’s a good reminder of life’s beauty beyond the chaos and banalities of everyday struggles.
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
I don’t know if I have any advice at this point, as I’m so in the thick of things. I would love to get people’s advice, instead! One of the biggest skills I’ve had to learn very quickly is to ask for help and network with other women entrepreneurs – so, I would say this would be my best advice to other women.