NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Emanuela deFalco started out as a makeup artist, and went on to create beauty brand Dirty Little Secret Cosmetics out of need.

That in turn created opportunity.

DeFalco told WCBS 880’s Joe Connolly that after she graduated college with a degree in marketing communications, a 9-to-5 job just wasn’t for her. She told her parents she wanted to go to a cosmetology school and become a makeup artist – and soon after that, she decided she wanted to start her own makeup line.

DeFalco said dream really took off five Halloweens ago, when she was searching for a way to complete a “broken doll look.”

“And I really wanted like a blue lipstick – which was super random. Social media wasn’t that big back then. It wasn’t like I could hashtag ‘blue lipstick’ and like find it. So that’s when I said to my sister, who happens to be a chemist, ‘Will you make me a blue lipstick?’ She did, I wore it out, and I got so many compliments, like: ‘Where’d you get your lipstick? Where’d you get your lipstick?’ And I was like, ‘I made it,’” deFalco said. “And they were like, ‘Are you selling it?’ and I was like, ‘No, but I will now.’

So deFalco called her father, got a $10,000 loan, and launched Dirty Little Secret Cosmetics. She said she was able to pay back the loan in just two weeks.

DeFalco’s first sale of the blue lipstick came from social media.

“So I had about 12,000 followers at the time, which again was like five years ago, which was big for how small it was, and I had 12,000 followers,” she said. “I ordered 12,000 pieces, and I just sold through social media, which I still do now.”

DeFalco has expanded well beyond the blue lipstick these days with five brands, and she continues to use e-commerce for all her sales. Her products are also in a wide range of beauty subscription boxes.

“Birchbox, BOXYCHARM, ipsy, Beautycon, Lip Monthly – I mean, you name it, one of my brands is in it; GLOSSYBOX,” she said. “I’m in Europe. I’m the in U.S. I’m all over the place.”

For businesses that are using social media to promote their products, deFalco said it was all about engaging content and consistent posting.

“I think just consistency. I mean, I am posting nonstop. It’s probably annoying at some point. But just be really consistent and have good content, so I mean, if you’re posting something that people want to see, I mean – obviously, the beauty industry is huge; there’s tons of competition – but if you post pictures that are a little bit outside the box, I mean, I would just say be consistent with it and stick with it,” she said.

For her cosmetics lines, deFalco said Instagram has been the most effective marketing tool.

As to running her business, deFalco has only four employees – all of them members of her own family.

“It’s funny, because we’re very successful, so people would think I had like so many employees. I mean, if you looked at it from the outside, we’re selling 3 to 5 million pieces of product a year, so you would think I would have these employees. But I have my mom, my dad, my uncle, my sister, and that’s it. I have four total,” she said.

And while she is satisfied with using e-commerce for her business now, deFalco said she would like to see her cosmetics in retail stores in the future.

“I would love to be in Sephora, but it’s just – that’s just a whole ’nother demon, like to do retail and have to deal with like, you know, damages and like stolen products, and I just have too much going on that I just don’t – I think I’m OK where I am, and yeah, I’m like comfortable,” she said. “But my next – if I had to push forward, which in a couple years, I will, I will try to get into retail. And maybe Ulta or like CVS.”

To see more Small Business Spotlight segments, click here.

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