The makeup market in China has never truly taken precedence, it has always been a skincare first market. I think we have a real opportunity and expectation of the direction beauty will take for makeup. Especially “no-makeup, makeup” which actually uses more products to look natural.
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Anisa Telwar Kaicker, Founder and CEO of her namesake business, Anisa International. She started her business in 1992 and for almost 3 decades has pioneered the leadership, product development and culture of this globally branded business through the design and manufacturing of cosmetic brushes for makeup and skincare. She partners with the most esteemed brands in the beauty industry.
In 2003 Anisa International vertically integrated their operations by opening their own manufacturing facility, Anisa China, in Tianjin. Fast-forward to 2020 and through substantial investment in social and environmental sustainability, Anisa has expanded her operations by opening two new state-of-the-art facilities: Anisa Tianjin and Anisa Jinghai. Committed to cleaner, safer and responsible manufacturing, these facilities employ over 500 individuals dedicated to the practice of cruelty-free and ethically made products.
Now, after almost 3 decades of providing superior products to the best brands in the business, Anisa has chosen to further expand her innovation with a specialized category of cosmetic brushes focused on skincare application through ANISA Beauty.
Anisa’s personal reputation is equally notable and includes long-standing philanthropic contributions that span causes for homeless families, animals and the conservation of our environment.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I created Anisa International Inc. accidentally really, I did not have the opportunity to finish a formal college degree and was working with my family’s international trading company from the age of 17. When the business came on hard times, I had to figure out what to do and selling makeup brushes was a side hustle at the time that then became a full-time gig. I had to learn to market myself and my product all while distributing cosmetic brushes for a Korean manufacturer. The relationship with the Korean brush manufacturer lasted 15 years.
Once I realized how satisfying it was to be in charge of the full process from driving unique marketing strategies, sales presentations, design collaboration, cost negotiation and seeing my customers respect my opinion and guidance, I was hooked.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
We are using this time to really focus on implementing and improving our operational reporting. We are taking advantage of global operational improvements and implementing better communication reporting to help automate information so all departments are aligned on the company’s priorities and the organization can work more cohesively. Although this may not sound exciting to everyone, for me (being an organization nut), it makes me want to jump for joy!
Another new exciting ‘project’ is our D2C brand, ANISA Beauty. We have been a B2B business for 27 years, Anisa International Inc. and now having our own consumer product segment of the business is truly exciting. When an individual understands and enjoys our products enough to leave a review or share on their Instagram, it is so rewarding. Even a $50 order on ANISABeauty.com can make my day!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There have been many people who have helped me along the way, and one of the most significant who was consistently there for me was my mentor, Norman Brodsky. Norman taught me that being an entrepreneur was not for everyone and that the things I felt and the drive I had was something entrepreneurs alone would understand, and that I was ”not crazy”. When he told me that he understood me, I felt I finally could lean into my destiny and not focus on those around me who did not get it.
What do you think are the new markets in China that may become the next “big thing”? What challenges does that new market face? How would you address it?
The makeup market in China has never truly taken precedence, it has always been a skincare first market. I think we have a real opportunity and expectation of the direction beauty will take for makeup. Especially “no-makeup, makeup” which actually uses more products to look natural. ☺
Can you share the top challenges of doing business in China and how you overcame them?
The distance, the language, the nuances of culture are real when it comes to performance-based transformational leadership and management.
We all have a way in which we work that is customary. Americans can be hyper direct, and in China this is not widely practiced. They have so much respect for our team in the U.S., that sometimes it takes longer to get clarity on a situation, only because our China team does not want to offend us and manages the challenges without burdening us with the details.
However, the details are what help us all understand how to overcome and improve chronic challenges. Our business is customization; we don’t make a widget a million times over, we make a luxury product that is branded and created in collaboration with the best brands in the business from all over the world. We are always pushing the boundaries of design, delivery, and service and with more than 500 employees, it has to be coordinated, connected, with clear direction. Needless to say, this will be my life’s work. It will be ever-evolving, and we are always improving through learned communication styles, creating educational materials to share “what we mean” when we are describing a function in production or design, automated reporting for prioritization, and patience. By trusting our teammates and providing support, transparency and vulnerability between us, we can move faster and with more efficiency.
We keep hearing about the “Trade War”. What are your thoughts about it? Given the unknowns, how do you plan to pivot?
We will continue to address as we go. Our category has not been overly impacted as of yet, and the Chinese government is doing its best to help us offset the negative impacts of the tariffs.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“An Attitude of Gratitude,” no matter how tough things can get, having a mindset of what I am grateful for will carry me through the hardest and most challenging times. This is my favorite quote and mantra.
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. 🙂
To do the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what a great question. It would definitely be that we all give back in some form or fashion, that our status and relevance would hinge more on what we give to our society and our community. Let us all live our lives in a way that inspires.