Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in beauty and cosmetics but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Simone Xavier, Founder, and Co-CEO of Sigma Beauty, located in Saint Paul, MN, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Sigma Beauty was started by an engineer (my husband) and a molecular epidemiologist (myself), so our approach to beauty has been outside the box from the beginning. Both Rene and I are very solution-driven and very goal-oriented, so every product we bring to the market reflects these core values. Another very important pillar of Sigma Beauty is innovation. You can imagine that an engineer and a scientist will approach beauty very differently from your average brand founder. We had no ties to the status quo or the 'normal' way beauty products are created. We felt very free to create products and solutions that were never seen before. Innovation was always core to Sigma Beauty, and today we have been awarded over 60 patents to protect our inventions.

The Sigma Beauty customer values quality and innovation at an affordable price. Sigma Beauty is a masstige brand in terms of retail prices but really positions itself as a high-quality brand, competing directly with the quality that is already offered by luxury brands, but at a lower price point. The fact that all product development is done in-house allows us to offer our inventions at a more affordable price.

Tell us about yourself

I am a veterinarian by training with a Masters in Veterinary Pathology and a Ph.D. in infectious diseases, focusing on molecular epidemiology. Basically, I used to investigate disease outbreaks and select infectious agents to be used in vaccines to control the disease. Very much along the lines of what we experienced through the pandemic, but in animal health. My research has always been anchored in data and trend analysis, and I very much use all the skills I developed as a scientist in my business to this day. Rene and I noticed a need for high-quality, affordable makeup brushes 13 years ago, based on requests from family and friends when we visited Brazil on holidays. Then, we decided to address that need by developing a brush set that contained every brush you needed to do your eye and face makeup. My trend analysis on what was perceived as 'holy grails' for makeup brushes, along with Rene's engineering background, resulted in the development of a brush set that sold out in a couple of hours - with 2,000 people joining a waiting list.

My motivation comes from bringing solutions to the makeup industry. These solutions were very much influenced by my own needs and perception of how cosmetics and makeup applications could be improved. Today, I am still developing solutions, but now in the form of high-quality makeup formulated with the cleanest ingredients available. We are also working towards sustainability by updating our packaging and reducing our use of plastic. We continue to be at the forefront of innovation but are now geared toward being a clean and sustainable brand.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Successfully transitioning from an academic environment into a cosmetics business is my biggest accomplishment as a business owner. It just goes to show that if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Navigating the ups and downs of the beauty industry, maintaining your brand as a relevant contender in the eyes of the client, being at the forefront of industry trends and trendsetting, and constantly reinventing your brand, so you remain relevant. When you have been in business for 13 years, you learn that trends come and go, and you need to stay ahead of the curve. But I love a challenge and actually enjoy coming up with new ways to attend to our clients' needs.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

There are many ways you can start a business, and they can all succeed. It all comes down to how devoted, persistent, and true to your vision you are. My tips are based on my experience. I am sure other ways can be as successful as the ones I'll mention.

  1. Trust your gut. If you feel something can be better, done in a more effective way, and will be a better solution than what is currently available, you already have the basics to start product development.
  2. Start small, but start. Don't shut down your dreams of starting a company because you don't have a big investor backing you up. We were (and still are) self-funded. We allow ourselves to grow safely within our means. We focus on always making sure the company can sustain its growth with its own revenue. There will be tough times, so make sure you are saving for rainy days. We started with one brush kit. Today, we have over 200 products in brushes, makeup, brush care, and, soon, skincare categories.
  3. Focus on what your client sees as value. Don't compromise or abandon what the client's behavior is telling you. Don't be personally attached to your own likings if the client is telling you otherwise. Be ready to shift everything 360 degrees in order to meet the client's needs. You work for the client. The client is your boss.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

We are excited to continue growing Sigma Beauty. We have successfully transitioned from being a highly respected brush brand to being recognized as a top color cosmetics company to expanding into skincare next year. We are immensely proud to have created an entire category in brush care with over 60 patents on brush care gadgets. The future is bright, and core values are being maintained. We have a solid plan for the future.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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