What would be your two-minute elevator pitch?
The TAMIIM Beauty Studio is our new innovative concept: Brussels’ first ever makeup studio. Founded by two makeup artists, our studio is completely dedicated to the art and artistry of makeup. We demystify obscure and complicated professional makeup techniques for a more individualistic approach with our one-on-one makeup lessons and workshops, as well as with our popular makeover sessions. Our motto is, “It’s not a transformation, it’s a revelation.” You don’t have to be a big name to feel like a superstar in our studio. We put all our focus into creating a welcoming space of excellence, modernity and diversity.
List three factors that make Brussels’ entrepreneurship landscape unique.
- The diversity of its population means that we can reach different cultures who all respond very differently to new business endeavours. As black entrepreneurs, even though our focus has always been to hone our ability to cater to everyone, we’ve found that some white customers are somewhat reluctant to trust our professional expertise. So we make special efforts to address them regularly through communication and marketing.
- Brussels is a small market, so the competition can be felt quite quickly. We constantly need to be aware of what’s new in our market and adapt accordingly. Yet on the brighter side, making a name for yourself is slightly easier.
- Brussels is a bilingual city, which makes the market even smaller if you’re not bilingual yourself. Communication and marketing-wise, it also makes it twice as hard because you constantly need to address both communities, which are quite distinct socially, stylistically and of course economically.
What are the three biggest challenges you faced when starting up your business?
- Getting the right information concerning the process in starting up a business was rather tricky, as it was a bit all over the place. Brussels isn’t the most business-driven city, and even though there is an abundance of places that claim to help young entrepreneurs, we found ourselves getting sent from one organisation to another without receiving any real advice. We lost a lot of time in thinking we could rely on one organisation before realising that everyone was giving out the same, quite vague information regarding our business plan. But in fact, we first had to figure out on our own how to create a first draft of our business plan before asking for any type of help or advice.
- Finding funds was difficult for us because TAMIIM is quite an innovative concept. It was hard to convince banks to lend us money because there are no prior examples of makeup studios to show that it is a profitable business. Eventually we got our bank loan, but only because we provided a solid enough personal financial investment. Likewise, getting financial help is a long and arduous process that is very time-consuming for any entrepreneur in Brussels. In addition, there’s the inevitable administration aspect which slows everything down even more. Taking into consideration any type of task that has an application deadline is overall very challenging.
- As young black entrepreneurs, it’s a challenge to be taken seriously, even when your business and financial plans are solid. And that’s at every step of the way, from finding investors to looking for collaborations and customers.
We constantly need to be aware of what’s new in our market and adapt accordingly. Yet on the brighter side, making a name for yourself is slightly easier.
How did you benefit from hub.brussels’ expertise in the conception of your business?
They helped us realise the importance of having business plan, serving as the first window to our project. They also linked us with an advisor at Centre Dansaert – a citydev.brussels hub for local economy – who was instrumental in finalising our financial plan and overall strategy.
List three pieces of advice you would give to the budding entrepreneur.
- Start before you’re ready. Things will get complicated along the way anyways, so don’t think you need to have everything figured out before you start the process of becoming an entrepreneur.
- Don’t expect anyone to do the dirty work for you. Nobody knows or understands your project better than you do, so it’s impossible to look for someone who will do your business or financial plan for you. Don’t waste time and get to work!
- Trust your gut and follow your instincts. It’s easy to lose focus along the way because so many people will try to put you or your project into a box. Of course, be willing to adapt, but don’t try to please everyone – always stay true to the essence of your idea.