Meet Gabrielle Union at Ulta Beauty for Flawless Hair Launch Chicago September 28th

There are few people I look up to as much as Gabrielle Union. I love how real she is about working out, family time, and glam. I first became enthralled with her for her role as news anchor, Mary Jane Paul on BET’s Being Mary Jane.

This fall she’s continuing to add to her business line with her own book – We Need More Wine. She’s also furthering her partnerships in the beauty industry. Next week, on September 28, 2017, Gabrielle Union will be in Chicago to launch her own haircare line at Ulta Beauty. The line is called FLAWLESS by Gabrielle Union and is designed for women with textured hair to have more good hair days than bad. Flawless hair care products have a combination of 3 oils including Argan Oil, Avacado Oil, and Marula Oil all made responsibly with Fair Trade principles to promote the South African markets.

I wanted to share with you this special opportunity to meet my favorite savvy businesswoman and role model, Gabrielle Union. She has been through the journey of loving her hair – something that I have struggled with my whole life. It’s seriously been on my summer bucket list every summer.

“I’ve finally gotten to a place of self-acceptance and recognizing that my natural hair is beautiful — and so is whatever weave I may wear,” Gabrielle Union told Glamour. “I’m perfectly happy rocking an Afro puff, my French braids, Senegalese twists, a faux-hawk, or an ombré wig, or heat-styling my natural hair with extensions, like in the photo above. And that makes me a happy person in my life.”

Thursday, September 28th Gabrielle Union is going to be at Ulta Beauty (430 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611) for a meet & greet in honor of the launch of Flawless!

In order to qualify for the meet and greet with the star – starting Friday, September 22nd the first 200 customers to purchase 1 Flawless product at this Michigan Ave. Ulta Beauty will receive a pass to meet Gabrielle on September 28th. Once the first 200 are sold out, the offer is expired.

Let me know on Instagram or Twitter if you get to meet her by tagging #windycitycosmo! Best of luck!

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Meet the Chicago Entrepreneur Behind The Beauty App, LISA

There’s a lot that goes into getting ready for an event. And by event, I mean there’s a lot that goes into getting ready for a week. Is your hair done? Did your gel manicure start to peel?

The more that I attend parties and grow in my marketing and blogging career, the more I realize that it takes makeup and maybe a straightener to get good photos – not just Snapchat filters. And most of all, putting on your best face and looking good not only presents a better image for you and your brand, it also makes you feel more confident.

One platform that is here to help is the LISA App, the first open marketplace mobile application that connects clients to artists in the beauty industry by allowing them to schedule high-quality personal services whenever and wherever they want them, at a price that suits their budget. I had heard of the LISA App from The Tape Play’s launch party and from Chicagogrammers first birthday party and then at the Chicago Yelp Drink and Learn event at Workspring. 

After meeting some of their stylists and having my own hair and makeup done by some of the beauticians through the LISA App, I reached out to the founder, Lisa Nation to learn what inspired her to start this beauty on demand business, the apps that help her streamline her business and some of her secrets to B2B (business to business) success.

How did you get the idea for your business?

It was my husband’s idea, he had that ah ha moment driving to work one day. I’ve been a licensed hairstylist for over 23 years but for the past 17 years I have worked independently due to the commission split salons take from each service provided. When he explained his early concept, I jumped in head first and started to build out the infrastructure from the Artist’s perspective.

How long did you sit on the idea before taking steps to make it a reality?

September 24th, 2014 was when we hashed out the primitive idea, three days later he quit his job and we were off to the races.  We raised our first $100,000 in 2 days with just the concept of LISA, although the app was nameless at the time.

What were some of the steps that you took to create your business? Did you survey people? Did you seek out investors? Did you start solo?

Neither us knew one bit how to build an app, but, we are both resourceful. We strategically put the right people together and started whiteboarding. Once we felt we were in a good spot we held an investor presentation for 60 potential investors. We raised 1mm within 24 hours.

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Lisa Nation, Founder of The Lisa App.

How did you attracts stylists and beauticians?

At LISA we believe that anyone who can use scissors, a brush, chemicals or nimble fingers and make someone look and feel good deserves to be coined an Artist.

How do you build a platform for a community that doesn’t even realize a disruption is needed?

You have to listen to the people who live it everyday, what are their struggles, what would they like to see changed. That’s why LISA is a company that was built by the Artists for the Artists.

Before we began development, we invited 30 Artists to a summer camp in Florida. For 5 days 30 strangers came together to tell us what they would need if an app were built for them. We listened! You cannot build something if the people who are going to use it do not believe in it.

Can you tell me more about your business and the services you offer?

LISA is the first ever, true, open marketplace in the beauty industry that connects consumers and Artists in real time. LISA’s #1 focus is the B2B marketplace. LISA helps over 100 corporations supply beauty and wellness perks to their hardworking employees. LISA has designed software to assist these corporations to make it user-friendly for not only the back office (HR, Benefit Directors) but also for the employees to easily book in office services via the app. As we continue to grow our B2B efforts we will slowly start to promote the B2C marketplace in order for the employees to bring these services home with them.

Where’s your favorite part of getting ready for an event – makeup/hair/nails?

That’s a tough question to answer, I spend so much time making other people look and feel good, I rarely take the time or enjoy getting myself ready. If I had to choose, it would be hair.

What’s the hardest part of owning your own business?

Accountability. No one cares more about your business than you.

How do you distinguish yourself from competitors?

The goal is not to be first and best, the goal is to be early and better. We studied all of our competition and simply did it better. We learned from their mistakes and created features that they did not have, ie; open-marketplace, B2B strategy and all around Artist functionality.

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Do you use any apps to manage your business? If so, what are your favorites?

MailChimp, I use it to view report. Grammarly. Email tracker pro (I’m always watching to see who has opened my emails), Trello; this is how our team shares updates and stay organized and Zapier, I get a notification every time a consumer requests an Artist for a service.

What, do you find, is the hardest part of starting a business?

Prioritizing. Staying with your mission. There is such a temptation to sway from your original concept. DON’T. It will cause you to lose focus.

How do you network as an entrepreneur? Do you use LinkedIn? Do you send emails? Do you go to events?

It’s all about networking. I have joined many groups that inspire me and help me grow as an entrepreneur. I go to and participate in as many events as I possibly can. (get some networking tips here)

Sometimes I’m so tired, I don’t want to go, but I know I have to because it takes only one person and a 3-minute conversation to open a new door for you and you never know who that may be.

Since we are heavily focused on B2B, I’m on LinkedIn more than I am on FB or Instagram. LinkedIn is a terrific resource to learn about companies and the people who work there. Most of my business is email. One thing I have learned through this process is though is to avoid emailing Monday’s and Friday’s.

Windy City Cosmo experienced this first hand and was part of the LISA app’s promo video with Tape Play. (see video below).

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Chicago’s Frock Shop Brings Holiday Style and America’s Next Top Model Guest

On Wednesday, December 2, 2015, The Frock Shop (2150 S Canalport Ave.), a rental dress boutique in Pilsen, held A Night of Style, their first of several style series fashion mixers to help Chicago women create a complete look for holiday parties and New Year’s.

A Night of Style included lots of glamour, and many treats.

The Frock Shop and former Ann Taylor stylist, Porchea Londone, hosted the holiday style event.

Chicago models and aspiring ones showed a room full of guests new arrival cocktail dresses from BCBG and others like Chicago’s designer, Suzette Opara, Frock Shop x 828Collection Holiday Capsule.

More than a standalone fashion show, The Frock Shop had makeup artists from Paint Gal Studio (1136 S. Delano Ct. W B201, Floor 2, Suite 2023),and hair stylists from The Starr Project Studio (2150 S. Canal Port) available for a Q&A session. Former America’s Next Top Model contestant from Cycle 20, Bianca “Kanani” Andaluz, made an appearance and stayed for a meet and greet and conversation about fashion and modeling.

Before the fashion show started, guests explored the beautiful, artsy space at 2105 S. Canalport in Pilsen. There were a few parties going on between the various lofts. Guests enjoyed a special holiday wine sangria and warm chicken and brisket sandwiches from Dinosaur Barbeque.

Holiday Cocktail Dress Fashion Show:

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BCBG Holiday Work Party Dress. Photo: Fred Brown

 

The first look of the night was a black, short BCBG dress, followed by a show stopper sequin romper.

“You have to rent it because when else are you going to wear it?,” said a Frock Shop stylist.

The piece retails for about $100, but you can rent it for $40.

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Green Sequin Party Romper. Photo: Fred Brown

Feature designer, Suzette Opara collaborated with The Frock Shop to bring an exclusive collection that you can only rent at The Frock Shop. The Chicago fashion designer debuted her collection in 2014 and is marked by flirty and confident fits that are not too trendy, but relevant, according to The Frock Shop. Evening gowns start at $1,000 to buy, but to rent, they start at $100.

The outfit that got the most gasps from fashionistas was a BCBG jumper paired with a pink jacket.  The dress retails at $150. To rent is $55.

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BCBG Holiday Jumper. Photo: Fred Brown

The Frock Shop has added new brands to their dress collections, including London based, Oh My Love brand. The model displayed a Metallic dress. With a turtle neck and long sleeves, it’s a nice winter dress, but it’s also lightweight so you will be comfortable at a holiday party.

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Oh My Love metallic dress. Photo: Fred Brown

Another look of the night was by  For Love & Lemons, a brand favorited by celebrities like Kendall Jenner. While the dress has a Free People vibe, their clothes are made of silk instead of polyester, for the more sophisticated holiday party girl.

You can rent all of the dresses mentioned and so much more at The Frock Shop. Prices start at $40 and range to almost $2,000.

As a bonus, you can get styled with accessories to rent for under $10.

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Accessories to rent at The Frock Shop. Photo: Fred Brown

Make-up Artist Tips from Paint Gal Studio:

After the fashion show, The Frock Shop brought out make-up artists and hairstylists for an interactive session.

Only have a few minutes? Focus on skin.

For one tip to do at home, the make-up artist, Davenda, from Paint Gal Studio said if you only had time to focus on one thing, focus on your skin because from far away people will notice the difference. This includes: conceal, brighten under eye, and use a bronzer.

At the Paint Gal Studio, artists experiment with cheaper brands and more expensive ones. For the fashion show, Davenda used MAC eyes shadows. She also recommends the Naked3 Pallete from Urban Decay for an easy day to evening look.

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Davenda from Paint Gal Studio gives tips. Photo: Fred Brown

The Starr Project Studio:

Upstairs from The Frock Shop is Starr Project Studio.

I spoke with Carmah Benet, business manager for The Starr Project Studio and The Artistry Lounge.

Benet works closely with Star Knight, one of the stylists at The Starr Project Studio who has worked for New York Fashion Week, to help book unique opportunities like events and photo shoots to expand stylists skills beyond the studio.

Each stylist maintains their own social media account and Benet encourages them to use their name as a hashtag to promote business.

“You have to create a name for yourself,” Benet says.

America’s Next Top Model contestant from Cycle 20, Kanani Andaluz, came to the Grand Opening of The Artistry Lounge in September and then Benet helped with her appearance at The Frock Shop.

ANTM: Bianca “Kanani” Andaluz:

Kanani Andaluz took selfies with fans and aspiring models and answered a few questions.

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Kanani from America’s Next Top Model. Photo: Amanda Elliott

I sat down with her for a quick interview.

Windy City Cosmo: What was it like to have Tyra Banks as a mentor?
Kanani: “I was star struck as first.  Then I had to show her I could do this.”

Kanani auditioned twice and made it twice, but because of transcript release dates, she had to re-audition.

Windy City Cosmo: What was the hardest part of America’s Next Top Model?
Kanani: “My daughter wasn’t even one yet. It was my first time away. Being a first time mom, it was hard not to hear her voice everyday.”

Windy City Cosmo: What do you think makes you unique as a model?
Kanani: “I am ethnically ambiguous. I’m African, Cuban, Puerto Rican, French, and Spanish. 

Depending on my hair color or style I can change my look. They always say a model is like an iguana. I feel like i am exactly what that is. I have an androgynous look.”

Windy City Cosmo: What is it like to model in Chicago?

Kanani: “In Chicago…it’s really commercial.”

Kanani described an experience modeling for Ford.

“If we cant put you next to a 12 year old kid and you look like a mom. You are not the right fit.”

Kanani is currently a free agent. She is too short for the New York market, where models start at 5’9″, so she is looking to move to LA, where they accept lifestyle models. Kanani is 5’7 1/2”.

She is also working on a mortuary science degree.

Beauty Appointments and Dress Fittings:

This fall The Frock Shop was selected as a featured boutique for Midwest Fashion Week. With their dresses from cocktail to trendy to gowns, and their connections with beauticians and hair stylists in the same building, it’s one-stop, diva service.

To book make-up appointments: Paint Gal Studio  (in studio or at home)

To book hair appointments: The Starr Project Studio

To rent holiday dresses size 0-22: The Frock Shop 

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