Our newest FIO post features the talented and ambitious Danielle Houston, Creative director and owner of make-up company BY DANILEA.
This adventurous 25 years old moved to Toronto with her high school girlfriends when she was 23, wide eyed searching for opportunities. Working in a few different fields depending on what presented itself at the time, to help her make ends meet, she always had the underlying dream to start a business of her own.
“I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandfather started a locksmith company (ABC Securities) in the 1950’s, which is still family owned and operated today. All of his children followed in his footsteps of building their own careers, including my parents who have worked for themselves most of their lives.”
Tell me a bit about your company?
“I officially launched BY DANILEA September 2015, but have been working on building this line over the past few years, and most aggressively this year. BY DANILEA is a Canadian makeup company that offers a unique web based LIPS line as well as a STAGE line that offers customized makeup kits to performance teams.”
What sets ‘BY DANILEA’ apart from the rest of the make-up industry, and makes it unique?
“BY DANILEA is a Canadian makeup line that prioritizes quality, customer service and embracing an unapologetic lifestyle; this line focuses on pushing the boundaries with our bold and edgy collection of lip shades.”
What is LIPS?
“LIPS is a vibrant lip line for the everyday #unapologeticallybold beauty. The line is an extension of the BY DANILEA brand and is locally made in Toronto, paraben free, hypo-allergenic, fragrance free and cruelty free! LIPS is sold online only but you can expect to see us popping up throughout the city soon.”
What does #unapologeticallybold lifestyle mean?
“An #unapologeticallybold lifestyle means to do what excites you and don’t settle. To empower anyone and everyone to take risks, be unique and to live unapologetically in every lip and life decision you make.”
What did you want to be growing up/while in school?
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial instinct and been drawn to creative projects. I never knew what I wanted to be for sure but always knew I was going to be a #girlboss.”
Where have you studied?
“Majored in Health Studies, and graduated with a Bachelor of Honors.”
“When I first graduated from University I was excited to get a job in my field of study, public health, but this proved rather difficult without any real work experience. Although this was discouraging, I knew I wanted to continue my education and develop my skills in an interdisciplinary manner, so I decided to take the Project Management program at UofT. A program that I would be able to use in whichever field I ended up in.”
What kind of training would you recommend to someone who wanted to do something similar to what you are doing now?
“If you are interested in makeup artistry I would encourage you to take some classes and learn as much as you can about products and ingredients.”
“Depending on your interest, you can find courses through the College of Makeup Art + Design or a variety of makeup schools in Toronto. Here is Blog TO’s list of best makeup artists and design schools in Toronto.”
What type of female would you recommend going into your field?
“A female who is ready to push the boundaries and bring something fresh to the cosmetics industry. It’s no secret that this market is saturated with lipsticks and other products, but it’s not about that.
If you have an idea of something that the industry would benefit from, you have an opportunity to include it. This has been done time and time again, with the introduction of lip crayons (aka chubby sticks), matte liquid lipsticks and through the creation of continuously bold shades (primary colours). Create a line that you genuinely would want to buy and others will follow.”
What are some aspects of your job that people might not consider before entering it as a career?
“I think the day-to-day activity of any business is not fully considered before entering, especially when launching a start-up!
Yes, I am the creative director but I am also the accountant, marketing strategist, social media manager, customer service rep and shipping staff, to just name a few. It’s crazy, but the best opportunity to learn everything that goes into building a business.”
How have you helped yourself to be able to do these roles?
“I can thank my university education for giving me the ability to tackle these multiple roles daily. But with the help of mentors, Google, and free courses and seminars – I’ve been able to learn how to execute these tasks more successfully each day.
A great resource for young entrepreneurs, which I am a current participant of as well, is the Starter Company grant and mentorship program through the Small Business Enterprise Centre of the government of Ontario.
The amount of free seminars and classes through this program alone is amazing! Check out what’s happening this month with Enterprise Toronto. “
Did you need investors or did you have enough startup capital for your business?
“I had some savings to start the business but my main source of capital that I have received is through the STARTER COMPANY grant and mentorship program through the Hamilton Small Business Enterprise Centre. This program has awarded me a $5,000 grant for all startup costs and mentorship through the most difficult time of the business life cycle.”
Have you utilized social media for your company? If so, what tips would you give to a start-up?
“Definitely. Being a web based lipstick line, social media is crucial to spreading the word about LIPS. If you are a start-up business it is so important to embody your brand and use social media as a tool to build your business.
My advice to a new business owner would be to manage your social handles yourself, at least at the beginning, and find three platforms to utilize really well.”
You’ve read #girlboss how did you like it? What did you take from it?
“I read #girlboss at exactly the right time in my life. Just when I was teetering between taking the plunge with pursuing my dream job or continuing the daily grind in workplaces I didn’t quite fit in.
Sophia’s (the author of #girlboss) story about building her business spoke to me. The fact that she believes some people are built differently and are meant to take the entrepreneurial route, really resonated with me and I think she is right. Every person is meant to excel in a different career, but you just have to listen to yourself to find out what that means to you.”
Is there anything you would like to highlight on?
“I have always been a strong supporter of balance. What balance means to me, may mean something entirely different to the next person.
Although, yes, I have had to make some sacrifices in terms of making it out to every friend’s event, I am trying to find that balance of work and relationships. I know a lot of people who begin a start-up, sometimes need to gravitate towards a different friend group but I luckily enough have always gravitated towards an inspiring and grounding group of individuals.
My friends and family are my inspiration behind the line, this line is for the everyday person, not the perfect person, but one that is real, has flaws, beauty, failures, and triumphs. I love being able to celebrate these things, day in and day out with my friends and being able to also, creatively express those ideals through my LIPS line.”