Raynell “Supa Cent” Steward is a social media influencer and CEO of the viral cosmetics brand, The Crayon Case. In 2018, she made headlines after her brand sold $1 million in products in under two hours and recorded $1.37 million in a sale the following year in just under one hour. Today, the company is valued at $50 million, according to Forbes.
Steward’s journey toward becoming an entrepreneur dates back to when she was only 16 years old and decided to drop out of high school to create her own path. She wanted to work and convinced her aunt to employ her at an aquarium. But the decision did not find favor with her mother who scolded her for deciding to quit 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 came Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. Her family, after braving the storm in New Orleans, eventually left a few days later. However, Steward returned to New Orleans when she was 18 years old. She stayed with friends and managed to secure a job as a waitress 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.
Steward applied her employer’s mastery of marketing and customer service to selling her items on her website, WuzzamwithSupa.com, which she likened to a flea market structure, Forbes said. The profit from her retail business was used to fund her cosmetic line. According to her, she would buy samples from suppliers and put her logo on them and just start selling them. Her product was even featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things list.
Steward initially found it challenging to hire makeup artists at a reasonable price so she decided to start learning how to apply her cosmetics using the live video streaming app, Periscope. She used her practice stage to cultivate online followers who would usually visit her live page to watch her do makeup using 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.