Shantel Gray

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#POSHgirls Entrepreneurship Feature

ChaiLee Makeup Artistry + ChaiLee Lashes

What is your Elevator Pitch?

I am Shantel Gray of ChaiLee Makeup Artistry and ChaiLee Lashes. Having received training in Jamaica and the UK , Chailee provides expert makeup services using the best in cosmetic products. With experience in a range of makeup techniques, we provide quality services to suit any occasion, such as photoshoots, weddings, birthdays, date nights or any other event. We understand your skin’s health is extremely important so we make sure to take great care of it.

Our Chailee Lashes, are handcrafted and made from 100% cruelty-free minks available in a variety of styles to suit your personality. Our services are available for booking at chaileebookings.as.me/ and you can visit our social media on Instagram @chailee___ and Chailee_lashes.

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

The drive behind becoming an entrepreneur stems from growing up in Jamaica and the entrepreneurial culture that exists there. I learned from a young age the importance of having more than one streams of income and very quickly realized that financial freedom is critical to being able to afford and maintain a good lifestyle.

What led you to your particular business?

I have always been obsessed by all things ‘beauty’. I first thought of specializing in makeup while attending the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica. Makeup artistry had everything I cared for: a good income, flexible hours, and the occasion to meet new people. So in addition to my business courses, I also enrolled in a Makeup Artistry program at an Aesthetic Institute that was in close proximity of the University. A few years later, I extended my brand to supplying my own luxury line of lashes, ChaiLee Lashes.

How did you raise funding for your venture?

Funding from my business came from personal investment. I started very small with money from my savings and built on that. Financial independence was key for me as it allowed me to do this at my

own speed and with the luxury of managing my time as I saw fit. I did not want to have to deal with loans and banks, or even have the pressure of involving friends and family.

How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?

I market myself through social media and through networking. So far, I have benefited the most from networking which provided an avenue for me to sharing my knowledge on makeup techniques and products as well as recommendations. Networking can take different forms, for instance, small private events or talking about what I do when I meet people. Makeup artistry is intrinsically personal, if not intimate. I need to be able to assess someone’s face, touch their skin, identify what will work best for them for that particular occasion. This is a people’s business. Actually, I would go further than that: this is a person-to-person business.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

I would have to say that the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur are strategic thinking, networking and resilience.

Strategic thinking in finding ways to navigate unfamiliar ‘territories’ in creating opportunities for growth, as well as finding solutions and being resourceful.

Resilience, as it will not always be smooth sailing. There will be challenges, rejections, slow progress, at times no progress at all. In dealing with that, you will need to be able to push forward regardless.

Networking because unless one can afford mass advertising, it is extremely difficult to increase brand awareness without it.

What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?

I would love to say that I have some tricks up my sleeve in keeping focused and productive, however, I have to admit that this has been a struggle. If you are like me, you run a small business, work full-time while trying to advance your career, it becomes extremely hard to keep focused and not be pulled in many directions. I believe time management is key. There are various techniques out there but what works for me is rather simple: I start each day by writing down everything I want to do that day. Let’s be honest, I do not cross every line on that list every day, I have been guilty of being too ambitious on a number of occasions, but this has been really helpful to me

What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in?

Research, research and research. Once you are done researching, research again. It is critical to learn about products, techniques, new trends, what works, does not work and also about your clients. If you do not spend time maintaining your knowledge, someone else will, and your business will fast become obsolete.

I also believe in mentorship. I crave mentors and their advice. It is important to talk to people who can give you sound advice, who have done it before you and made mistakes of their own that you can learn from. If you get the opportunity, try and also become a mentor, “new” entrepreneurs can learn from your experiences and advice.

Networking is at the top of the list too, it creates meaningful connections and opportunities that can aid with the growth of your business. It gives you a chance to build your brand’s reputation by providing others with information.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

I tend to find inspiration in people around me but if I had to choose one person, it would be my mom. She was always pushing forward. If she ever became too comfortable, she took that as an indication to move on to something more challenging. Whatever she decided to accomplish, she always did, even if it took longer than anticipated or was harder than expected. She got it done.

Founded in 2005 by Virgin Island native Janette Brin, Caribbean POSH is a fashion and lifestyle magazine blog on a mission to empower Caribbean Women. Visit our website to learn more about the magazine and our annual Caribbean POSHgirl POWER Brunch.