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Anastasia Soare immigrated from Romania and was working as aesthetician in Los Angeles when she told her boss at the salon that she wanted to focus on eyebrows. She was told “no” because there was supposedly no market for it.
“And I said ‘you know what? I’m gonna do it on my own.’ Everyone around me thought I was kind of crazy,” Soare told Know Your Value’s Daniela Pierre-Bravo at the Forbes Women Summit on June 17.
Soare, of course, wasn’t crazy. Her company Anastasia Beverly Hills, which focuses on eyebrow products and tutorials, is now valued at $3 billion. And she’s worked with celebrities and A-listers, including Jennifer Lopez, Michelle Obama and all the Kardashians.
“I’m blessed,” she said. “I wake up happy every day.”
If you’re looking to follow in Soare’s footsteps, here are her top tips on launching a successful business.
1. Believe in your dream, even if other people don’t.
Soare, now 62, believed in her vision of an eyebrow empire so intensely that she didn’t listen to the naysayers — and there were many. Aside from her boss at the salon, she had trouble explaining her idea to banks and investors.
“People didn’t believe that eyebrows were a business,” said Soare. “I believed in it, and I think that’s enough. If you believe it, you can do it.”
She said she earned her confidence from her mother, who was a tailor in Romania.
“My father died when I was 12, so [my mother] wanted me to help her with the business,” Soare recalled. “She said: ‘you are smart, I’m going to teach you. You can do whatever you want.’ I think the confidence that she gave me helped me to be where I am today.”
Soare’s first big dream wasn’t in eyebrows — she wanted to move to America. She was 32 years old when Soare, her ex-husband and her daughter were granted asylum and moved to Los Angeles.
“Unfortunately growing up [in Romania], everything was taken away by the government. And my dream was just to come to America because I thought this is the only land of the free,” she said. “After 30 years later … I am where I am because of course I work hard, and because I had a dream.”
2. Start step by step.
When she left the L.A. salon, Soare established her own, which meant working 14-hour days. She used her own money to invest in her company. Slowly, it grew.
“Start step by step. I didn’t start being a big company in the beginning,” said Soare. “You go to the bank for loans when nobody knows about you. I had to shape eyebrows and work... Those are probably challenges that everybody faces.”
3. Know your craft.
Soare studied beauty and art in Romania, and her technical know-how has informed her vision.
“Going to beauty school and art school in Romania helped me to think of why we use makeup, and it’s exactly how you do portrait. You use pencil to make a 3D effect. Makeup is the same … You are able to create an illusion of perfection and balancing proportion.”
4. Fill a void.
Soare found a void in the market when she stumbled upon eyebrow contouring and tutorials. She filled the void and is now practically unrivaled.
“There were no products for eyebrows in the beauty industry. There was a void so I created products,” she said. “Then in 2013 ... my daughter introduced me to Instagram, and I realized that placing the video and the tutorials will help customers that would be impossible for me to reach.”
5. Become the best.
Soare’s goal was to become the very best in eyebrow shaping and contouring. She encouraged other ambitious women to aim for similar goals.
“In my opinion, you need to be the best in whatever you want to do. Do your work. Learn. Maybe work for another company that you can learn from,” she said.
6. Focus on customer satisfaction.
Soare said her focus is always on customer satisfaction, which is a trait she learned from her mother.
“[My mother] believed her customer is the most important thing, and I think I learned from that,” said Soare. “Everything I do is for the customer. I want to make them happy. I want to offer the best products, the best techniques and share everything I know.”
7. Learn from your mistakes.
Every entrepreneur will face challenges and make mistakes along the way. It’s all in how you handle it, said Soare.
“I don’t care who you are, there will be challenges every day and you will make so many mistakes,” Soare said. “I’ve made so many mistakes and I’ve learned from it, and I never tried to make the same mistake twice.”