Raynell “Supa Cent” Steward is a social media influencer and the CEO of The Crayon Case, a viral cosmetics firm. She made waves in 2018 when her company sold $1 million in merchandise in less than two hours and $1.37 million the following year in less than one hour. According to Forbes, the company is now worth $50 million.
Steward’s route to being an entrepreneur began when she was 16 years old and opted to drop out of high school to forge her own path. She desired to work and persuaded her aunt to hire her at an aquarium. Her mother, however, was not pleased with her decision and chastised her for leaving school at such a young age to work.
“I told my aunt, who was my manager at the time, that I didn’t have to go to school every day so I could work during the week. One time [my mom] popped up at school and called me, I was at work, and she was [asked], ‘Where are you?’ I said I was at school, and she said, ‘No, you’re not because I’m at your school,’ and I hung up the phone,” Steward told Forbes. “I got on a bus and went home. I got in trouble and told her I would quit the job, but I didn’t; I just stayed at work.”
Then, on August 29, 2005, came Hurricane Katrina. After enduring the storm in New Orleans, her family eventually fled a few days later. Steward, on the other hand, returned to New Orleans when she was 18 years old. She lived with friends and found work as a waiter in a restaurant.
“I learned everything as I went, and that’s how I learned my marketing skills from that job [which was] big on marketing the company. They did everything and anything to market; they gave away free stuff, letting police eat for free. They let all the valet guys who worked at the hotels, the concierge, and the front desk people, eat half off so they could tell people to come into the restaurant,” she said.
According to Forbes, Steward used her employer’s mastery of marketing and customer service to sell her items on her website, WuzzamwithSupa.com, which she compared to a flea market structure. Her retail business profit was used to fund her cosmetic brand. According to her, she would get samples from vendors, imprint her name on them, and then begin selling them. Her product was even included on Oprah’s list of Favorite Things.
Steward first found it difficult to employ makeup artists at a fair price, so she began learning how to apply her cosmetics using Periscope, a live video streaming service. She used her practice stage to build an online following of people who would come to her live page to watch her do makeup with different colors.
“[My] brand was made for you to learn how to do your makeup, to play in the colors, and that’s why it’s so affordable because I don’t want anybody to feel like this palette was too [costly] to mess up. I came up with a lot of colors because I wanted people of color to understand that colors look great on us,” said the social media influencer.
Research shows that even though the beauty industry has always been open to small business startups, only 2.5% of brands in the beauty industry are either Black-founded or Black-owned. “If you are selling something, you need to do ads on Facebook, Google, it’s not about the followers, it’s really about who’s watching, then you start marketing, and you gather more people to your page, and that’s when you start selling,” Steward advised on the way forward.