Meet Kristina Cueva: Founder of IKA Beauty, the luxury lipstick brand made to empower 'your best you'!

Greetings Kristina! We’re delighted to have this opportunity to chat with you today here at FEM-START. Can you tell us what initially sparked your journey into entrepreneurship and the inspiration behind launching IKA Beauty?

I was always a fan of lipsticks and was frequently complimented and asked for advice on the shade/formula. Lip products- both in make-up and personal care at the time felt to me like an afterthought. There are so many products out there but I felt like lip products were so underrated. So I thought it would be great to mix my more scientific thinking into the development of lip products- both in make-up and personal care. This really sparked the entrepreneurial spirit. But I wanted this brand to be more than just lipsticks. It’s the symbol of the best versions of ourselves, finding our voices to proclaim that the best version of ourselves comes from within. Hence the slogan ‘YOUR BEST YOU’

Could you outline some key steps and strategies you implemented to kickstart your business?

Certainly, the journey involved personal introspection to align my entrepreneurial vision with practical strategies for the business. While my background primarily lay in R&D/Innovation of food supplements rather than cosmetics, I was still able to use this product development experience in cosmetics. I was fortunate enough to also have cosmetics regulatory experience so I did know what was required to launch such products this also helped me select the right manufacturing and R&D partners. Getting this product right the first time was essential. Developing a minimum viable product (MVP) hinges on distinguishing between essential requirements and nice-to-have features. The primary objective is crafting an outstanding product. Focusing on must-haves over optional extras is crucial in this process. The aim was to create exceptional products.

How did you go about building and expanding your customer base?

Harnessing the power of social media and influencer collaborations, we gradually built brand recognition. Strategic partnerships and a curated luxury product line positioned us strategically, with a primary focus on the EU market. Emphasizing online presence, maintaining product quality, and nurturing partnerships were integral in earning customer trust. The key was to initiate momentum early on, confident that a superior product would naturally attract customers.

Looking back on your journey, what were some significant challenges, and what lessons did you glean from them?

I first wanted to go e-com only and slowly realised that omnichannel was going to be necessary. We have moved from choosing to go either e-commerce or physical retail only so that was a quick pivot. Another learning was also to trust my instincts and knowledge. Seeking guidance from experts is beneficial, yet discerning when to trust one’s own expertise is equally crucial. 

What do you consider your greatest achievement since founding IKA Beauty?

Undoubtedly, my proudest achievement is IKA Beauty.  We are crafting exceptional products that resonate with customers. The formulation, renowned for its longevity comfort and hydration, has garnered awards as a product but the exceptional branding and packaging just as well . Being recognized by the beauty industry, I am so proud of it reaching so many print magazines both In NL and DE. I am also extremely proud of the retail conversations (Eg, Sephora) and reviews on the product, proving it’s true potential. Consumers and Professionals alike have provided great reviews about the first products so I am very proud of that. 

What advice would you offer to aspiring female entrepreneurs, especially those grappling with self-doubt?

To aspiring female entrepreneurs, I say: start your journey without hesitation, whether as a solo founder or with co-founders. Cultivate self-trust and embrace self-reflection as catalysts for growth. Seek mentorship from individuals offering invaluable insights and remain open to continuous learning and adaptation. Developing troubleshooting skills and contingency plans is imperative for navigating the entrepreneurial landscape. For those considering funding, early research and industry immersion are paramount. Also just have fun in the process! 

What’s on the horizon for IKA Beauty? Any upcoming developments to anticipate?

Looking ahead, IKA Beauty aims to expand its reach by augmenting its product line and entering the brick-mortar as well. Our vision encompasses revolutionizing lip hygiene and elevating lip care to the forefront of beauty routines. With a commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction, delving into the science of lips we’re excited about the journey ahead. Additionally, something to look forward to as well is the growth of BIODAMI. The Bioceutical Lab. Science-based food supplements that unlock the power of the microbiome.

If you want to know more about Kristina’s company IKA Beauty, click here! If you want to know more about her second company BIODAMI, click here!

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