Finding the right mentor can sometimes be one of the most complex parts of entrepreneurship. Mentors help founders strategize beyond their product or service, provide expert knowledge with real-life experiences, and help form lasting relationships that can carry them through the most challenging parts of the journey.
A beauty and fashion guru, Nyle was once a young executive employed by the legendary celebrity makeup artist and business mogul Pat McGrath who, by her example, helped him to see what it takes to make a mark on the beauty industry.
Today, Nyle’s a 29-year-old Brooklyn resident who serves as the founder and CEO of Brian Beauty Cosmetics. His goal is to revolutionize the alternative makeup aesthetic.
This #Pride season, we spoke with Nyle about his journey and the goals that keep him pushing forward.
Nyle, when did you first get interested in the cosmetics industry?
As a teenager, I was obsessed with the alt-pop, and metal music scene. The men making this music sometimes wore makeup and had androgynous points of view. I began to incorporate aspects of the alternative aesthetic into my personal style. When I moved to New York for college, I knew my aesthetic would be something that helped me stand out.
I sought out fashion stylists to assist and got hired even though I didn’t have much experience. Within a few years, I had assisted over 30 stylists on hundreds of projects, including features for American Vogue and Beyonce’s Lemonade visual album. These projects were so eye-opening to me, and I couldn’t believe I was getting to experience it all at such a young age.
I got to interact not only with stylists but makeup artists, hairstylists, photographers, producers, etc., and gain knowledge of every job on set, from experts.
What was it like to work professionally in the cosmetics industry?
I started to take on more and more responsibility on set which sent me down the path of a producer and creative director. In 2015 I started working at Pat McGrath Labs, which at that time was a startup in year 3, prior to its billion-dollar valuation. Working closely for around two years in a startup environment helmed by someone who literally redefined modern makeup artistry turned my interest into a full-blown obsession. I soaked up so much knowledge about the industry. But it wasn’t until more than a year after I parted ways amicably with the company that it occurred to me that I wanted to and could start my own makeup brand. I missed the excitement that comes with growing a makeup brand when you are following a true creative vision but wanted to do things my own way. It would be a dream come true to have Ms. McGrath on my board one day.
And so you decided to launch Brian Beauty Cosmetics?
That’s right. When I was younger, I always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. I come from a disadvantaged background so I always knew that to have the freedom I craved, I needed to become my own boss. In order to get complete autonomy, I knew I had to create something and couldn’t just work my way up to the C-suite.
Brian Beauty wasn’t my first company in the beauty space. I started a hair brand a few years back but didn’t have the capacity to expand it beyond a certain point, and I still have it on the back shelf with plans to revisit it later.
For now, Brian Beauty Cosmetics is my passion project where we unapologetically showcase queer people of color interested in the alternative, goth, emo, and punk scene. There is very little representation of these makeup styles in the industry so Brian Beauty is quite a subversive brand.
How did you get involved with StartOut?
I remember researching programs/organizations geared towards LGBTQ+ businesses and startups and discovering StartOut.
When I discovered more about the queer VC world, StartOut was consistently at the top of the list and seemed like an excellent resource connector. It’s important to me to ensure I’m not just taking money from any investor. I want funding from people who share some values with me and the customer demographic, and who believe in the vision.
I’ve had two meetings StartOut Experts and got great advice and insight into things I hadn’t considered before. It’s so great to meet with somebody and talk about what you’re going through. The folks at StartOut are genuinely focused on helping you succeed.
What’s next for Brian Beauty Cosmetics, and how are you celebrating Pride this year?
Expressing yourself is important, not just during Pride, but whenever you want. That’s why we’re in the process of adding four new colors, a new one just launched this Pride season. It’s difficult to find a brand offering as many liquid eyeliner colors as Brian Beauty does while meeting our quality standards.
We are also helping the Black Trans Femmes in the Arts. In an effort to make as big of an impact as possible for this specific organization, we have donated all customer tips from the past year.
Additionally, retail is on the horizon. I’m focused on finding the right retail partner who understands our demographic and won’t compromise on that. Right now, we want to take it slow and focus on acquiring more customers through sustainable means while ensuring our high satisfaction rate.
Influencers are vital in the beauty industry, so we’re focused on building our affiliate distribution network. We’ve recently reached 200 affiliates, and I’m pleased with our progress.
This month, I’m spending a lot of time reflecting and having fun. The whole point of pride is to be yourself and be happy and not think about the horrible things you face when you’re born Black, queer, gay, or anything else. It’s a time to celebrate!