You don’t have to spend all your money. Someone told me it would cost a million dollars just to get my brand launched. They were wrong. Sure, there are bigger things we could do with a million dollars — hiring, inventory, marketing. But at the core, modern technology makes it so that you can get your brand launched without spending yourself into bankruptcy.
As part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adiya Dixon Wiggins, founder and CEO of Yubi, and the inventor of The Miracle Brush ©. An attorney and mother of two, Adiya invented the Miracle Brush to make beauty faster and simpler for busy women everywhere.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was sitting in my car in a parking lot just minutes before a 7 am leadership meeting at work. When I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I was horrified. I had slapped on my makeup with my old tools and my fingers before running to work — and it showed! Streaks and patches, I looked like a clown, and with zero time to fix it. As a professional woman climbing the corporate career ladder, I had to be flawless and I could not afford to look a mess. It was at that moment I decided to start working on a solution. After making countless prototypes by hand in my basement, I came up with the design for the Miracle Brush and launched my company Yubi.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
In the fall of 2018, a few months after launching the Miracle Brush, it was named one of TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions! It was the only beauty product on the list that year, a list that covers innovations across the planet. It was was a real surprise and treat for me. I knew I had a game-changing product and had received great feedback during the testing and early launch phases; still, I assumed my newfound brand was not “big enough” to win such an honor. The winners of that award were all products developed by large, multi-national companies with multi-million-dollar R&D budgets and teams of hundreds of designers and marketers behind them; even the smaller companies on the list were venture-backed. I think it is safe to say Yubi was the smallest company on the list, the only one entirely self-funded, and the only black-owned brand with a woman at the helm. The big takeaway for me with this accolade is that nothing is impossible and amazing things happen only when you try.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Early on, I had to make a decision about whether I would launch Yubi or not. I prayed on it, did my research, and finally decided I wanted to pursue it. However, I knew it had to be a family decision — such a big change would require my husband and kids to make sacrifices too, since I would have to leave my full-time job to successfully start the company. When I spoke to my husband about it, he didn’t hesitate. “You always make good decisions” he said and committed to supporting the business however necessary. Since we launched Yubi, he has packed orders, reviewed copy, schlepped inventory, and critically, handled bedtimes with our children while I traveled. He’s the brand MVP and I am so grateful for his endless support.
That’s amazing. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion-dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?
I love this question. At Yubi, we are working to make beauty easier for busy women by making it more intuitive. Eighty-nine percent of women use their hands to apply cosmetics — so we developed the Miracle Brush to give women the experience of using their hands, without the mess, and with amazing results. Our Miracle Brush also combines the power of up to nine different tools to help streamline the beauty routine.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?
Beauty is becoming more of a meritocracy. While a significant amount of money is still necessary to launch and scale a brand, smaller brands are able to leverage technology to generate sales and awareness organically. This is a win for the consumer who gets to engage with brands and shop products that solve their specific problems. It’s also a win for brands that no longer have tremendous barriers to market entry. For example, if it weren’t for tech platforms like Instagram and Shopify, a small brand like ours could not exist.
Beauty is responding to climate change and the demand for sustainability.
The growing shift to eco-friendly products and reusable/recyclable packaging is a step in the right direction for beauty brands looking to reduce their impact on the environment and making consumers feel good about their decision to do business with them. At Yubi, we’ve made recent moves to reduce the amount of packaging we use and to use as much recyclable material in our construction as possible. We’re also proud of our Lift Off Makeup Remover Wipe, which can be washed and reused up to 500 times to remove makeup, meaning no more makeup wipes littering the planet and overflowing landfills.
Beauty has figured out how to be “clean” without sacrificing efficacy. The recent emphasis on clean beauty has led to the rise of non-toxic and ethically sourced products that actually perform — unlike beauty products of the past. Our popular Miracle Brush is made with velvety-soft vegan, cruelty-free bristles that are dense and won’t trap bacteria and dirt. Our Deep Clean weekly brush cleaner and our Vitamin C facial cleanser are two beautiful clean formulas that are vegan and safe to use on even the most delicate skin, while delivering flawless results — and we are very proud of that.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?
Celebrity culture. I think we are seeing a move away from this a bit, but the obsession with celebrity culture leads brands to spend in excess to court them, and customers to spend in excess buying products that might not work for them. The rise of authenticity — largely fueled by Gen Z — gives me some hope that individuals will be more comfortable seeking authentic solutions that speak directly to them, whether endorsed by a celebrity or not. Still, the audience size of today’s celebrities makes it hard for smaller brands to be seen or heard without them.
Predatory participants. I have been burned by more than my fair share of predatory industry participants — so many I could write a book! There are large companies that promise marketing or sales results. There are influencers that promise authentic audience reach. There are trade show coordinators that promise certain exposure and opportunities. And there are manufacturers who promise results that never manifest. The only solution for this is to form friendships with other brand founders to compare notes and share references. Without this level of collaboration and cooperation, the talented service providers and products that customers need may never make it to market.
Again, climate change. As I mentioned previously, the beauty industry is making inroads toward environmental sustainability, but I don’t think enough is being done. There needs to be tougher standards and regulations that brands adhere to in order to ensure progress on our collective environmental goals. I think there are ways this can be done without adversely impacting smaller brands.
You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?
Absolutely! First, do your makeup — every day…especially on days where you just don’t feel like it. The simple act of looking at your reflection can do wonders for your spirit. There’s also a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment you feel when you’ve finished — it makes even the most frustrating day feel like a win.
I’ve recently added a small amount of fragrance to my ritual as well. It’s funny — it’s like those old ads of housewives cleaning their homes and then lighting a candle or spraying freshener into the air to signify the end of their routine — there’s something really satisfying about ending my beauty routine with a drop of my favorite fragrance.
Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.
- You’re not going to launch on time. We were set to launch Yubi in December of 2017. But after a few manufacturing glitches our date got pushed out a full quarter, which meant new creative had to be made and our audience had to be notified. Learn to stay on top of deadlines, but anticipate that you will not make them and have a backup plan.
- Don’t hire people you don’t like. I’ve hired and fired enough people to know that ultimately, if you don’t like someone, the relationship isn’t going to work, especially for a small brand. I would sooner hire someone with good raw skills and an amazing attitude than a seasoned expert who is unpleasant to work with. I’ve had people like the latter on my team, and let’s just say it didn’t work out.
- You don’t have to spend all your money. Someone told me it would cost a million dollars just to get my brand launched. They were wrong. Sure, there are bigger things we could do with a million dollars — hiring, inventory, marketing. But at the core, modern technology makes it so that you can get your brand launched without spending yourself into bankruptcy.
- Always come back to your WHY. We’ve gotten a lot of pressure to launch a color cosmetics line. To be clear, the pressure is coming from would-be investors and not our customers. Our purpose is and has always been to make beauty simpler for busy women. Stepping into color for us, right now, doesn’t meet that purpose so it wouldn’t be the right move. Knowing your purpose helps you make decisions faster and better.
Ask for help. I have learned to ask for help in ways I never thought I would. From packing orders and testing products, asking customers to write reviews and fellow brand owners to share their secrets, asking for help is the reason our business has grown year over year. It is also is the reason the process has continued to be fun, even during difficult times.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The best things that have ever happened to me have been when I left my comfort zone. From going away for college to moving to Japan for five years, relocating to the Midwest from New York and then pivoting from law to beauty, each of those changes made me a more patient, understanding person and enhanced my experience on this planet. I would love for everyone to have that opportunity. So my idea would be to implement a gap year for graduating high school seniors to leave their homes and invest in volunteer work across the country — or the globe. The ability to be the “other” for a period makes you a stronger, more resilient person, a better listener and able to serve humanity by solving problems in a creative way.
Similarly, language learning is a passion of mine and every new word or expression I learn is a delight. The US is going to need foreign language speakers, so making this a mandatory part of our K-12 education soon is critical.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
We’d love for readers to subscribe to our mailing list at loveyubi.com to get the latest on what we’re up to. Additionally, please follow us on Instagram at @yubibeauty and also follow me directly on twitter @adiyaayo.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.