When Iris Smit appeared on the TV show Shark Tank, she turned down a $300,000 investment offer for 25 per cent of her three-month-old business and the gamble paid off, with her beauty empire now raking in $15 million a year in revenue.
The founder of brands Quick Flick and Beauty Fridge has made an unusual move – creating a product that wouldn't necessarily be considered a beauty staple for some.
But the journey all began back in 2017 during a semester break, while she was studying interior architecture.
"I started working on a project to create a solution to winged eyeliner. It had been my signature look and no matter how much I practised, I could never get it right and then it evolved into a business," she told news.com.au.
"I never started it thinking it was going to be a big brand, but there was a massive need when I first started on the product. Since then every product I create is about solving a problem or trying to create a quicker or easier solution to applying make up or a beauty product."
While she didn't take the investment offer on Shark Tank, her appearance on the show did cause the business to blow up.
"After it aired things went absolutely gangbusters – we did like two months of revenue in four hours. It was absolutely ridiculous. I'm surprised our site didn't break to be honest," she revealed.
"Looking back, it was a blessing but also a bit of a curse at the same time. Businesses don't normally grow that quickly so it was quite difficult to put so many systems and procedures in place after such a short time."
The eyeliner stamp has continued to be a best-selling "cult style product".
But when Covid hit, a new product she had been working on happened to be the perfect timing for launch, particularly as mask wearing became the norm and eyes "were the only things you could show off".
She had created a two in one eyeliner and lash adhesive.
"It blew up during Covid as lot of eyelash salons were shut," she said. "So it attracted customers as they weren't able to get lash extensions and false lashes and it allows you to apply false lashes in seconds."
Smit also believes the pandemic has influenced beauty routines with many people no longer interested in spending hours on their make up in the morning.
"People don't want long complicated routines anymore. They want two or three products that they can apply and then are good to go," she said.
"There's a shift in the types of products people want too. They are wanting those quick solutions and those multi-use products rather than having five different things."
The 26-year-old said there's also been a shift to a bigger focus on skin health, with people stuck in front of their computers for hours at home worried about blue light damage.
She spotted a gap in the market not only for a blue light protection but also for a new type of sun cream as it just wasn't "sexy", she added.
"I'm a crazy SPF user. I wear it every single day no matter what and I found it difficult to reapply every day as I was having to put it over make up and it can ruin your make up," she explained.
"It also feels kinda gross and SPF just wasn't sexy – there was no products on the market that I felt excited to put on my face. It felt quite oily or greasy or left a white cast on my face so I wanted to find a solution on how to reapply SPF every two to three hours."
Rather than a complicated routine involving primer, moisturiser and SPF, she wanted to bring the three products into just one.
So this week, she launched two new products nationwide into Priceline – a combined primer, moisturiser, SPF 50 and blue light lotion. There's also a SPF 50+ spray formulation which can be applied over makeup during the day.
Smit said the brands have also started to gain momentum overseas finding success landing some "pretty big deals" with a US retailer, Germany's largest beauty retailer and also in the UAE.