Lakeisha Turner created her beauty brand, Keisha Elise Cosmetics, for a number of personal reasons. First, Turner was dismayed by beauty industry norms, which often do not include women of color – a concern that grew when she became a mother to her daughter, Kaylah. Then, she wanted to address the problems of widespread waste and chemical use she also saw in the industry. In 2019, Turner launched her Raleigh, North Carolina, business to be the change she wanted to see. Her line of clean lip and eye products won’t irritate sensitive skin – anyone’s skin, she says. Today the entrepreneur is proud to have created something that celebrates diversity, promotes inclusivity and empowers all women to feel beautiful.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
Our focus on diversity and inclusivity, as well as our clean and vegan products. And, for our community impact – we support single mothers through our Educational Scholarship Fund, enabling them to pursue higher education and build better futures for themselves.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
We were recently featured on ”Very Good Mondays” with Tabitha Brown.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Managing the rapid growth of our brand in the highly competitive beauty industry. As our products grew more popular, scaling our operations efficiently became imperative. We invested in technology solutions, implementing inventory management software to streamline our processes. This helped us optimize stock levels, reduce wastage and ensure timely product availability. Second, we expanded our production capacity through partnerships with manufacturing facilities that shared our commitment to clean beauty.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
When I was starting up, I was a full-time teacher. Managing that while also trying to start a business was very challenging. And when I made the leap to fully commit to my business, my financial circumstances changed. I had to carefully manage funds and make strategic spending choices. This period of transition and financial constraint taught me to be resourceful, creative and efficient in every aspect of the business.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Embrace learning and growth. Looking back, I wish I had recognized that entrepreneurship is a continuous learning process. Each challenge, setback and success comes with invaluable insights. Wholeheartedly welcome the chance to gain knowledge, whether it’s through a formal education, mentorship or your own self-directed learning efforts and experiences. Stay open to feedback, and never stop acquiring new skills.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I reflect on why I started up in the first place: My passion for redefining beauty standards and empowering women, especially women of color.
What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?
I love listening to Brandy on my tough days. She is one of my favorite singers.
Who is your most important role model?
My mother. She made tremendous sacrifices to ensure my well-being and success, as well as that of my siblings. Her unwavering dedication has played an instrumental role in shaping who we all are today. ◼