By June RamliTweet
With a career spanning over 25 years, Alex Fevola is not only a media maven that has conquered the beauty world and beyond but the professional Makeup Artist and Photographer, is also the CEO and Founder of Runway Room Cosmetics.
Starting her career in her early 20s as a makeup artist, model and photographer gave Fevola a unique insight into the industry, and helped her stay in tune with what women want from their cosmetics – having worked on both sides of the camera.
This perspective and extensive industry experience kept Fevola ahead of the game and has helped her create a beauty empire that embodies uncomplicated, ageless beauty for everyone. Runway Room was Australia’s first complete make-over bar, incorporating all beauty services under one roof.
Fevola’s passion for empowering women to feel confident and beautiful inside and out fuelled her desire to bring the salon experience to people’s homes.
She aims to create a user-friendly product that people could wear with confidence, revolutionising their perception of beauty and self-image.
In this exclusive interview with DailyStraits.com, Fevola tells us how the brand got its humble start and much more.
How did the company get its start?
I opened my first Runway Room store in 2012, it was self-funded. I used the money I earned from Dancing with the Stars to fund the first store. The initial outlay was about $100k and soon after I reinvested more money to fit the shop out and open a second store. Approximately two years after opening my first store, I saw a hole in the market for easy to use, affordable, Australian Made products. At the time the industry was still quite unethical with a lot of brands still testing on animals and using unsafe ingredients. We were one of the first Australian brands to focus on ethics, cleaner ingredients and sustainability. Again, this was self-funded, a friend of mine offered to buy into the cosmetic line and we funded the first few products ourselves. As the brand grew, we later took on a private investor to help grow the brand.
What were the first products manufactured and why did you decide on these products?
Lip products and lashes because this is what we would sell most of during make-up service. Quickly followed by skin products because I saw a huge need for weightless and glowy formulas in foundations. Everything was thick, cakey and congesting to skin. I wanted to develop a foundation that was hydrating and breathable and would be good for your skin, Face Base was born!
What are some of the things that an entrepreneur needs to do at the start of the journey if they want to start a make-up brand in Australia?
Work out if your product is needed, make sure you have a point of difference and source good advice. The main thing that is needed from any entrepreneur, is a true passion for what you are doing. Passion and work ethic, you need to be a highly self-motivated individual, especially in the beginning.
What about manufacturers, where did you source them?
I did a lot of research and enlisted the help of a pharmaceutical scientist to help explain the performance of certain ingredients and formulations. I tried a lot of different products and sourced the best from Australian manufacturers.
How much MOQ (minimum order quantity) did you produce per product at the start of this journey?
At the start we were producing as little as 100 units in some of our products and MOQ of 1000 in others. We were very lucky to have manufacturers that were prepared to do such small runs for us in the early days.
It looks like you are also a salon owner, did you start that first before getting into the makeup business?
I was a makeup artist first then opened my first make-over bar, followed by another four, then I developed the products. I have always worked in makeup so it’s been a lifelong passion.
It is very hard to drum up sales for an unknown and relatively new product, how did you get around that hurdle?
We basically only sold within our own stores for the first four years, trailing and testing all of the products on our own customers until we had curated the perfect range. Once we officially launched the Cosmetic line in 2019, that’s when we started actually marketing the products. Gifting to other make-up artists and beauty influencers and of course beauty media also. Social media has been the biggest driver of sales and brand awareness.
What were some of the challenges faced in starting the brand?
So many challenges! Cash flow, warehousing and distribution, so many learning curves in the early days but all part of finding your way. When something doesn’t work, you change course and that’s what I’ve done from the very beginning. holding on tight to your belief and your ‘why’.
Please let me know if you have any tips for those who want to start a makeup business. What should they do first?
It’s a very competitive market so be sure what you’re offering has a point of difference. Also, make sure it’s something you really want to do, understand the industry and be prepared to work harder than you ever have.
What is the end goal of all this and would you be open to a buyout at a later stage?
The end goal is to see Runway Room become one of Australia’s most loved brands, with everyone having a couple of runway products in their make-up bag. I would potentially be open to a buy out if it meant taking the brand to the next level, it would all depend on the circumstances. The dream is to see Runway become a global brand and loved by people from all over the world.
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June Ramli is the editor of DailyStraits.com. To stay in touch with June, look her up on Twitter @junesairaramli