Jennifer Kapahi’s beauty brand Trèstique had been up and running for a little over two years when a man hopped off of his bike to approach her while she was walking down Broadway in Manhattan. He recognized her as the founder of Trèstique from her pitches on QVC and was excited to be meeting her in real life.
“Then he told me that he and his wife was inspired by our company — and had plans to start a competing line of beauty products,” laughed Kapahi. “I told him good luck, but that I wasn’t going to help him.”
Kapahi is confident that Trèstique’s formula would be hard to copy. The line of makeup includes foundations, concealers, highlighter, bronzers, blushes, eyeshadows, eyebrow pencils, eyeliner and lipsticks, all meant to work into a streamlined beauty routine. A full set, the “Essential 8” package with personalized shades, costs $175 and is the brand’s best-selling item. Its point of differentiation lies in the packaging: Everything is sold in stick form, with dual uses in one stick. At the end of a foundation stick, for instance, is a hidden blender sponge, while at the end of a lip pencil is a balm in a coordinating shade.
Before launching Trèstique with her co-founder Jack Bensason, Kapahi spent four years in product development at Revlon, where she said true product innovation has basically petered out.
“When you have such a recognizable name, you tend to stick with the basics of what works before slapping the label on. I wanted this to be a brand for women who wouldn’t otherwise wear makeup. It’s foolproof and meant to be used on-the-go,” said Kapahi. “It’s basically the anti–YouTube tutorial makeup line.”
In addition to being sold through QVC, Trèstique is sold at Sephora, which Kapahi said is a legitimizing factor for the brand. Right now, Kapahi is in the middle of closing a round of capital, which she plans to use to hire more team members and continue customer acquisition and brand awareness.
We asked Kapahi to detail a recent day in the life as she builds her new brand from the ground up.
7:00 a.m.: Today, I forced myself to wake up earlier than my one-year-old son so that I could shower and get dressed before he wakes up for the day. I always scan my emails for anything urgent before jumping out of bed to brush my teeth. I’m bummed, because I typically love to start my day with a workout. Not today. Lately, I have been loving Bari‘s bounce class for a fun, fast and furious trampoline workout.
7:20 a.m.: I’m dressed and ready to go. It’s a jeans and sneakers type of day. My Golden Goose sneakers are a splurge, yet totally worth it for the comfort. I add a fun white Helmut Lang top.
7:45 a.m.: My son wakes up, and I hug him and kiss him a million times, as I run around like a maniac gathering my computer, chargers and a granola bar. Then I order my Uber.
8:00 a.m.: I’m in the car on the way to this morning’s product video and photo shoot. I made our makeup for days like today: bumpy car rides, one-handed application required. I use the Americano brow pencil, concealer, eyeliner, highlighter and BB lip balm. It takes less than five minutes.
8:45 a.m.: I arrive at the shoot and head up to meet my team, which is already there setting up breakfast, products, and the video and photography sets. I pour the biggest cup of black coffee and make my way around to hug everyone, including Lyndsey Ariel, our makeup artist, Eddie Parra, our talented hair stylist, and my friend and beauty guru Deepica Mutyala, who is our first model of the day.
10:00 a.m.: We are set up and ready. Deepica is getting dressed, and we are going over the details of the video shoot with the director and his team. Today, we’re shooting a how-to video in the back of an Uber using our Essential 8 routine. It features one new product that will come out in 2018.
10:30 a.m.: We load up the Uber with the camera crew, monitors, me in the far backseat, the director in the trunk and Deepica in the near backseat. Emily, our social media director, is getting behind-the-scenes content. There are about five phones out and 10 people talking, all at the same time. During this craziness, I have to jump on a 10-minute conference call with my business partner, Jack. We’re in process of raising money and have to touch base on a previous meeting. It’s organized chaos.
11:00 a.m.: We’re still in the car, driving around Lower Manhattan. We want the how-to video to be real, and shooting on bumpy NYC avenues is about as realistic as you get. Deepica is a pro at applying makeup in the backseat of a taxi and does each application take in one try.
11:45 a.m.: We wrap the first video and prep for the next shoot, which is a close-up studio video of Deepica applying the new product in all shades, one after another. We want it to be fun, colorful and playful.
12:00 p.m.: Nineties music is bumping. I am behind the monitors with the director, and Deepica is busy applying makeup, playing with products and dancing. The shots look amazing, and everyone is having fun. Lyndsey and Eddie pop in and out for touch-ups and flyaways, but we are moving right along.
12:30 p.m.: The video is almost complete, so I step out to take another conference call with one of our partners, FabFitFun. We are in the middle of a really successful lipstick campaign, and want to talk strategy for other fall and winter initiatives together. I text my nanny to check in on my son at the same time.
1:10 p.m.: Next photo shoot! We shoot a million beauty shots of Deepica, with and without the new product.
1:30 p.m.: Time for lunch. We wrap that shoot and head to the couch to eat lunch from Dig Inn: sweet potatoes, carrots, grilled chicken and kale. We meet with Emily, who is setting up a short interview for a blog post that will go up in a few months when the new product launches.
1:45 p.m.: My team and I divide and conquer. Two team members head into the photography shoot to work with two out of our three afternoon models, and I head into the video set with the third model for another how-to shoot for a different product. Nineties music is back on, and we are non-stop shooting. We swap models and shoot another three how-to videos with different looks, shades, props and vibes.
5:00 p.m.: I leave the shoot, which is still going on, to run home to see my son. On the way home, I call everyone on my to-do list: my husband, my best friend for her anniversary, my mom to ask a question and my doorman to fix a broken shower knob. While I am on calls, I am booking Glamsquad to come to my office the next day for a quick mani before a big presentation I have on Thursday morning.
6:00 p.m.: I play with my son, and do bath time and bedtime. It’s my favorite part of the day, and I look forward to it so much. We laugh and snuggle, and have the best time.
8:00 p.m.: I take a shower, dry my hair, throw on my favorite Rag & Bone leather pants and start working again. I am on email, working to catch up on everything from that day; I have over 100 emails to read and respond to. Being out of the office is hard.
9:30 p.m.: I head to dinner to meet Deepica and beauty influencer Kamie Crawford at Le Coucou in Soho, a very Instagrammable (and delicious) new spot. I order the caviar fluke, the grilled sole and a Macallan on the rocks.
10:30 p.m.: We are eating, brainstorming and chatting all things work, social media, industry news, future campaigns and life goals.
1:30 a.m.: I can’t believe it’s 1:30 a.m., but working and hanging out with these girls is fun! There isn’t a soul in the restaurant, and I have to be up at 7:30 a.m. with my son. I never stay up this late, and wow! I realize I’m exhausted.
2:00 a.m.: I’m in bed, but not sleeping. I think about everything I need to do the following day, and I’m already prepping for the Kisaco Research’s Beauty & Money Summit, coming up in a few days, where we’re a participating brand. So much to do, and so little time!