I love interviewing successful female entrepreneurs, and today I had the opportunity to chat with one of my favorite beauty entrepreneurs, Azzi Williams of Williams Pro Makeup. Here's what she had to say.
1). Please tell our readers about your background.
Twenty years ago, before venturing into makeup artistry, I started out as a corporate lawyer in Australia. But it was creativity that always pulled me away from the law. While I was studying at one of Sydney’s most prestigious law schools, I was doing makeup on the side, working for department stores, as well as working on photo shoots and weddings. But for a while, I gave it up to pursue a professional corporate career.
It didn’t last long. After only 18 months working as a grad lawyer, I quit and turned to my two loves – journalism and makeup artistry. This new and exciting journey took me to London, where I worked both as a model and makeup artist on television advertising campaigns for major global brands like Diesel, Burberry, Vivienne Westwood, Eurostar, and Sunsilk.
I was also writing for one of the UK’s major newspapers The Times and interviewing some of the world’s leading business people and entrepreneurs. In fact, I was one of the first journalists to write in the paper’s first-ever ‘Women in Business’ report. These amazing business people I interviewed inspired me to consider starting my own business.
In 2013, I returned to Sydney and decided I would create my own cosmetic brand that was 100% PETA certified vegan, cruelty-free and natural, while still having that professional-grade quality top makeup artists are looking for.
2). Why did you start your business?
The vision grew out of a pressing need for one particular product that I just couldn’t find – a natural, vegan, and cruelty-free setting powder that helped blemish-prone skin and was good for the health of the skin.
In London, I was working with a lot of amazing talent – models from IMG and MOT, actors and performers like Rhianna’s backup dancers, and TV presenters like Channel 10’s Angela Bishop. But a lot were complaining the heavy production makeup was clogging their pores and causing breakouts. My own skin was also suffering, and I was getting very sensitive to all the artificial ingredients and preservatives in traditional HD pro makeup. So I decided to create a setting powder that could address that very issue.
After a soft launch of our ‘Zero Powder’ in August 2015, we had such incredible reviews and feedback of our product that we decided to commercially launch in the following year, bringing out 14 new products including shimmer eyeshadows, high pigment highlighters, and the incredible Midas Powder infused with pure 24-karat gold.
3). What market does your business serve?
We cater for professional makeup artists, salon owners, TV presenters, actors, models, stage performers, and any makeup lovers who genuinely want a professional, high-definition celebrity look but are conscious about the ingredients they put on their skin.
Our mission is to create a range that is free from any animal derivatives, and artificial fragrance, parabens, silica or talc, but still delivers that beautiful red carpet look that photographs perfectly and lasts.
4). What's the largest challenge you've encountered as a business owner?
The biggest challenge was commercially launching our brand in 2016 while pregnant with my first child. The business is a family business and we put a lot of love and care into what we do, but juggling being a new mom and managing the workflow of a budding cosmetic brand meant I had to be incredibly vigilant about my time management, power through sleepless nights and never say no to help!
5). What's your best piece of business advice?
Always do a full business plan and analysis before jumping into anything new. The lean stack method is really helpful - and get tailored business advice before you start investing in a startup.
We also don’t believe in cutting corners or ‘bribing’ bloggers to write fake reviews about our brand. All our 1,000+ reviews from bloggers and customers on social media are unpaid, 100% genuine, and authentic. And it’s that organic authenticity that will build trust with your customers.
6). How do you like to relax?
I love taking long walks on the beach with my little baby daughter. We love chilling out at beachside cafes, watching all the surfers and tourists go by. Spending time with her is the most precious gift in the world.
7). Pick up a few items and connect with Azzi on: