Most people could probably guess that Spokane cosmetologist Robin Peltier, with her glittering skin and red-lipped smile, works with color.
Peltier, 54, is the owner of Clementine & Agnes, a young company that makes and sells mineral makeup, as well as a small collection of related beauty accessories.
“Like a lot of girls who grew up in the ’80s, I was always fascinated with the colors and styles of makeup,” she says. “Luckily for me, that fascination just happened to turn into a career.”
While the business currently operates as a sole proprietorship, Peltier says she hopes to shorten its name and make it into a limited liability company later this year.
“I named the business after my daughter’s two Boston Terriers,” she says with a smile. “It can be a bit of a mouthful, so I’m considering shortening it a bit.”
Peltier is a Spokane native and a graduate of North Central High School. She says her beauty career started when she decided to go back to school for cosmetology at age 32, earning both her cosmetology license, and an instructor’s license in cosmetology and aesthetics from Glen Dow Academy.
“I spent several years as an instructor at Glen Dow and won several awards for both hair and makeup in local competitions,” she says.
Currently, Peltier works as a hairstylist at Vision’s Hair Salon, a position that also helps provide her with creative ideas for her new business.
“I get some of my makeup ideas from my experiences working with coloring hair,” she says. “You really get a feel for what colors people enjoy wearing and experimenting with.”
Clementine & Agnes is one of nine businesses that sublease space within BeYoutiful Bath Bombs & More, a locally owned beauty store on the first floor of the NorthTown Mall, at 4750 N. Division.
BeYoutiful’s owner, Jessie Veselka, also uses the space to sell her line of all-natural skin care bath bombs, which are hard packed mixtures of dry ingredients that bubble when wet, adding scents, oils, and colors to bath water.
Peltier says Clementine & Agnes wouldn’t exist if not for Veselka, who offered her the chance to operate the makeup business in a corner of BeYoutiful’s 1,300-square-foot space when it opened last June.
“Jessie had been talking about this idea for starting a local beauty store for quite a while,” says Peltier. “Her products were already doing really well at local craft fairs, so I started to think maybe we could do this.”
While she’d originally thought the company’s demographic would be teens and younger women, Peltier says she soon found women of all ages are looking for natural makeup and beauty products.
“I did a lot of research into how mineral makeup is made, and took out a small loan just to get things started,” she says. “I don’t think any of us imagined it would take off so well these first six months.”
Clementine & Agnes makeup products include lipsticks, eye shadows, an eyeshadow primer called Stuck on You, liquid highlighters, a facial primer called SiLLky, a sugar scrub exfoliant, a mica shimmer spray, and cosmetic grade glitter.
Peltier says the company’s products range in price from $4.50 on up to $16.95.
“Our most expensive product is the shimmer spray, mostly because it comes in a special atomizer bottle,” she says. “Our most popular makeup products are the eyeshadows and cosmetic grade glitter.”
In addition to its custom makeup line the company also sells accessories such as fake eyelashes and novelty makeup brushes, which Peltier orders from various online retailers.
Peltier says she estimates that in its first six months of operations, Clementine & Agnes made a total of $17,900 in gross sales.
“We started small and our first month’s sales were mostly quality makeup brushes rather than our custom product,” she says. “But sales increased each month by at least 20 percent, and more customers are returning to buy our makeup.”
Peltier says she hopes to make the company’s SiLLky facial primer and the Stuck on You eyeshadow primer the company’s its top-selling products this year.
“Primers are important because they help all the other products to stay on better,” she says. “I’d also like to start making a loose powder product, and more quality makeup brushes.”
Peltier says one of the things she likes most about the business is being the creator of the product, most of which she produces in a cottage space located in the backyard of her Spokane Valley home.
“I really enjoy being what I like to call a creator of color,” she says. “The most fulfilling aspect for me is to be able to visit with customers who are excited to wear a product that I made.”
Peltier says she buys mica, a nontoxic silicate mineral used in creating makeup colors, from California-based cosmetic supplier, TKB Trading LLC, and her cosmetic grade glitter comes from a supplier in Coeur d’Alene.
“I sometimes use the company’s premade color as a base, but mostly I grind and make the colors myself,” she says. “I try my best to use all natural products, and mix just the right ratio of color and additives, so that the pigments stay as vibrant as possible.”
Peltier typically presses and packages all of her products on her own, although this year, she did hire 13 independent contractors to help with packaging products for Christmas sales.
“I tried to hire people that might otherwise have difficulty getting a job due to their schedules or things like health issues, or being a single or a stay-at-home parent,” she says. “Most of my packagers this year were high school students.”
Peltier says she and some of BeYoutiful’s other vendors occasionally use a production space on NorthTown mall’s upper floor for some production and packaging processes.
“Someday, we hope to be able to open up the production process a bit so customers can see just how each store makes its products,” she says.
So far, Peltier is the company’s sole employee, but she plans to hire up to five people eventually to assist in managing various aspects of the business.
“My operations manager, Shawna Reynolds, works with me on a contract basis,” she says. “My first full-time employee will most likely be someone who can take charge of the packaging process.”
Peltier says Clementine & Agnes’ first year of operations has been one of trial and error as she works to improve both the production and packaging of her product.
“It’s really difficult to find packaging that’s good quality and eco-friendly,” she says. “It can also be hard to squeeze a handmade product into a professional package without things getting messy.”
Looking ahead, Peltier says two of her main goals for the company are finding a larger wholesale supplier and building the business into a full-time venture.
“This year, my goal is to double our amount of sales and develop enough sustainable business to hire my husband on as shipping and receiving manager,” she says. “In two years, I hope to have enough business to do this full time, and perhaps expand production.”
Although the company only has one wholesale account so far, Peltier says she’s been working recently to coordinate new accounts with area dance studios and high schools.
“We’re hoping to offer these clients the option of buying product wholesale for use in productions or things like spirit kits for cheerleaders,” she says. “If they can’t afford to purchase wholesale, we’d like to offer them a fundraiser option through which they could sell product, and earn up to 15 percent of the proceeds.”
Peltier says she plans to launch a new company website this month and begin working more on ideas for how best to market her products.
“A lot of my customers ask about how to find which colors look best, or how to apply the products,” she says. “So I’d like to develop pictures and videos that help people visualize those things, perhaps even adding some interactive tablets to our retail space.”
Peltier says she plans to create photos and videos showcasing women of different ages and skin tones applying and modeling her products, and post them on popular sites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
“I’m also looking at how to put together sessions where people can stop in and consult with a makeup artist,” she says. “It’s definitely going to be another exciting and colorful year.”
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