As a business owner, I’ve always been fascinated with crazy success stories. In my free time, I would spend hours researching fascinating minds such as Gary Vee, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Robert Kurosoki— even our past president, Donald Trump (in his NBC’s The Apprentice days, of course). How did they become successful? What strategies did they employ, and in many of their cases, who did they screw over? Obsessed with success and learning, I had to figure out how these people did it. One story that always piqued my interest was that of Mariee Revere, a young Black woman who made $1.8 million in less than 8 minutes with MoonX Cosmetics. When I saw the video on Twitter, I thought of 4 things: 1. Wow, her mother must be proud! 2. You go, girl! 3. I’m in the wrong business; I need a product, lol. And most importantly, 4: What’s the catch?
It wasn’t that I didn’t believe her story; however, as a seasoned business owner, I just knew there was some major smoke. For example, how was she shipping all of those products? How big was her team? Did she have the inventory? Shortly after, my suspicions were confirmed. Not long after the news broke, MoonX Cosmetics was hit with multiple bad business comments, refund requests, horrible YouTube reviews, and even a negative public exchange on Twitter with an influencer, reality star, and then MoonX Cosmetics brand ambassador Ari Fletcher. Revere customers were upset, and they were not hiding it.
I immediately said “yes” when Winter Baxter, her publicist, asked me to interview Revere. As a bystander, I felt for her. I wanted to tell her story. I wanted to learn from her story, but most of all, I wanted to understand her story.
“Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”– Madam C.J. Walker, first female self-made millionaire
From the information that I knew prior, this was a small business with traditional small business issues. It’s not uncommon to see businesses not be able to fulfill orders. Similarly, Mariee wasn’t able to fulfill all customer orders before getting into a big warehouse.
However, after speaking with Mariee, I realized I didn’t have the full story AT ALL. She wasn’t some young, doe-eyed girl with a company she didn’t know how to run. She was a business-savvy shark who had a keen understanding of social media and influencer marketing.
Mariee was confident and smart, but most importantly, she was brave enough to allow life to be her teacher. The 23-year-old entrepreneur welcomed the criticism. Hell, she embraced it. She understood that she had messed up, and she wanted to fix it. She wasn’t defeated or insecure; she was ready to level up her operations. MoonX Cosmetics wasn’t a small business with traditional small business problems; Moon was a big business with a demand problem.
Mariee Revere chats with MEFeater about MoonX Cosmetics. The strategies behind the million-dollar beauty brand and the challenges they face on a daily basis, as well as her greatest strengths and weaknesses as an entrepreneur.
An unconventional childhood
Revere grew up in Seoul, South Korea. She had a pretty normal upbringing overseas. ” I was happy and fun. I did sports. I had a lot of friends. My school was small, but it was like everybody was like a small community and everything, but yeah, it was good,” she said. She became inspired to start her brand when she was a senior in high school. She chose entrepreneurship over joining the military or making plans for college. When she created her Instagram in 2017, back in Korea, she was selling lip gloss, highlighters, eyeshadow, body kits with body oils, and other stuff.
At 17, Revere had moved back to America, and she was suffering from severe acne and dark marks. This pushed her to release her first product, The Rose Galore. “The product was created as a body oil for people; I was using it to clear the acne on my face, and this led customers to do the same,” she said.
Now 23 years old, Revere has come a long way with the MoonX Cosmetic brands, hiring teams and bringing creative visions to fruition. “I’ve been in business for six years now. So we’re basically upgrading everything and making a grown-up version. From packaging formulas to labels and the website. We’ve now partnered with lots of chemists and dermatologists as well as a lab to move forward with this collaboration as well as future products I have coming out. We’ve just been doing last-minute touches on the website, learning marketing stuff, and so forth. This has probably been one of my hardest jobs to ever get done,” she said.
A start of an empire
Revere attests that her interest in skincare comes from divine intervention and growing up in South Korea. She was heavily into cosmetics, so it was a surprise to herself that she ended up in the skincare lane. “Asia is really the skincare capital of the world. So, growing up in Korea did help. I’ve always been into body care though,” she said.
She also attests that her uniqueness in the market back in 2017 helped her stick out and bring in a large quantity of customers. She describes the time she knew her business was making good progress back in 2017 and being honest about the overwhelming supply and demand relationship that was being created with her customers. “Everybody was doing hair, so me doing makeup and skincare stuff was a different outlook. One night I went to sleep and woke up and checked my log, and there were just so many orders. I started losing a lot of control, like with demand, and I was working like two days straight and everything like that,” she said.
Korean influence in skincare and beauty helped Revere find the avenue she wanted to go down when creating and selling products. Being part of the Black population in Korea was a hit-or-miss situation in the realm of skincare; a lot of products were created for use by other Korean people. But Revere was still thinking about what types of products she wanted to create and sell.
Revere believes she has gained the trust of her customers through transparency. She has taken and continues to take, every opportunity she can to give her customers a glimpse of the products being created. This distinguishes her from the competition, and it is not part of any strategy; it is simply Revere being honest and true. “I would love to sit on a live show and show people how I package orders, or filling up some bottles, or labeling, just to show and interact with my customers,” she said.
Lessons from Failure & Success
Revere recounts the moment she made one million dollars. It was a chaotic, surreal experience that left her in shock. She couldn’t believe something she had manifested so many times in her life was becoming a part of her reality. “I used to tweet all the time that I was going to make a million dollars. The power of the tongue is so real, and when I tweeted that, I stamped it into the universe,” she said. “The numbers were just ringing so fast, and I couldn’t believe it because even before opening the site, there were already about 20,000 people just sitting on the site. The site crashed, and then Shopify was unloaded, so I was panicking. We refreshed it, and there was about $500,000 going up and up, and then we got to $900,000. I was vlogging the sales, and you could feel the tension from everyone watching, and then I hit $1 million at 12:07 and everyone was just screaming, and I was crying and reality was setting in.”
During the celebration, Revere had to decide whether to keep the site open or close, and she eventually decided to close it after making $1.8 million. That amount of money was equivalent to nearly 30,000 orders. That large quantity of orders happened in under eight minutes. She remembers just blacking out during the celebration because she still had to conduct business. Her phone was ringing, people made errors in their order addresses, and she just remembers the experience being total craziness.
The viral moment that came with making $1.8 million in eight minutes was a surprise to Revere. At Christmas, she went viral for paying off her mom’s credit card debt and the mortgage on her grandma’s house. However, getting online and sharing her thanks for this success in her business catapulted her into a different type of exposure. “That was the biggest publicity I’ve ever gotten for my brand. I work with a lot of influencers, but I couldn’t even pay for that type of publicity. Even to this day, the video views are still going up, and my Instagram posts from that day still get reposted; people love seeing numbers,” she said.
But with all that love always comes controversy and negativity. We live in a social media age where people are allowed to share their opinion based on an experience or even just for clout, and it opens the portal for other people to share their stories as well, and then there is this domino effect of negativity. Revere has struggled with this as well; she has been in social media scandals, she’s had poor customer reviews, and she’s been accused of stealing formulas. Revere has responded to all of this by continuing to follow her destiny. “You can’t steal what was meant for you; if it wasn’t meant for you, then it’s not for you. That’s why I always say the product will always and forever speak for itself,” she said.
Revere does not take her customers’ feelings lightly; she is always proactive in her response to help them if they are unsatisfied. “At the end of the day, people make mistakes; I’m a growing brand. But I feel like once a customer’s mind is made up about something, it is kind of hard to rectify it, but I feel that as long as my team did everything in their power to get the situation better, then we have tried. We can only do what the customer allows, if that makes sense. So, we send free products, and we do refund shipping,” she said.
A strategic rebrand
To avoid more issues, Revere has made more additions to her brand that improve the quality of customer service. She relies on the growth of her brand to appeal to her consumers. She likes to show them that with more rules implemented, more customer service policies, and daily goals being met, these are changes the brand is making to grow.
Revere has hired trained professionals well-versed in business that she can learn from in meetings as she continues to grow and expand her knowledge of business as well. One word she used to describe her relationship with her customers was loyal. “My customers rock with me, and my brand has been through some scandals. But my numbers have not changed, and my customers have not changed,” she said.
Revere also took the opportunity to boost her loyalty to her customers through her YouTube channel. She started it a little misguided at first, but once she turned her filming focus to vlogging behind the scenes of product creation, she saw people getting a better understanding of the brand.
This helped her realize that she wasn’t the face of her brand, so she switched to using influencers for promotion in 2020. She is very grateful for working with influencers and reaching wider audiences to sell her brand to! “I always give thanks to Jayda and some influencers that I worked with during that time because I can never say that they didn’t help me, but I feel like my brain was already there. Actually, they’re that extra push that I would have probably taken a little bit longer to get, but I don’t really regret working with any influencers at all,” she said.
Revere built a large team through marketing. To help keep some of the bad, clout-chasing apples away, the hiring process is either through word of mouth or a disguised option on Indeed. “On Indeed, it doesn’t say “MoonX cosmetics,” it just says warehouse workers. So people just come in without knowing which company we are. A lot of my employees did not even know and didn’t care what MoonX cosmetics were. They just wanted to come in and get the job done. And that’s what I liked about my team—we get things done. No matter what,” she said.
Most entrepreneurs dream of getting their products into department stores. At first, Revere wasn’t interested in having her products sold by third-party retailers. Now, she sees the value of making her product more accessible. She wants MoonX cosmetics sold at Target and Sephora. She believes that this will be a great step for her, especially because she loves in-person interactions now. Revere wants a store in Korea, which would make her the first black skincare store in the East Asian country. She would also love to branch out into more than skin care in the future.
Revere has been looking forward to the new MoonX cosmetics product drop and revamp. Her new products are grown-up, sexy, and sleek. For the relaunch, they’ve come up with much better formulas. Going into the future, Revere wants to teach other entrepreneurs. She also wants to be able to give business grants to brands that need startup funds. She wants to do more speaking engagements with her followers and entrepreneurship aspirants.
Revere has been in business for six years now. She grew up playing sports. And now, a normal day for Revere is playing with her dogs, browsing through emails, editing vlogs, and having back-to-back meetings. There you have it. No one is perfect, but people like Mariee Revere have my respect for learning from their mistakes.
Since this interview took place, MoonX Cosmetics has been busy at work, and a relaunch has taken place. The products are now available at www.moonxco.com
Peace & love,
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