Tell us who you are and what you do!
My name is Kaysha Marie Conley and I’m an entrepreneur. I’m from North Little Rock but I’ve lived all over Central Arkansas. I was a gifted student in grade school but I don’t think I started to shine my light until I graduated high school.
My childhood wasn’t bad at all but money was never at my fingertips. Anything I wanted or sometimes needed, I had to figure out myself, at a young age, how to get it. By 11th grade, I knew I wanted to own a business. I was following several boss women at the time like Ming Lee who had just started Snob Life and local boss women such as Princess Gupton [Princess Breeze], Dhairboutique, Vikita Eason, Ashuna Starks etc. These ladies inspired me to just do it, whatever it was.
After a bad wreck that totaled my car and left me carless and jobless, I told myself I couldn’t waste anymore time. I continued to revamp old jeans for people and went back to trying to sew clothes. “Kissmeco” [Fearlust was the clothing store’s name according to my 12/13/14 journal entry] was a clothing store until I began thinking of more ways to market a cosmetic business versus a clothing business. I started to fall in love with all of my ideas and put the clothing business dreams on pause. I found a private label cosmetic manufacturer in California where I bought my first two packaged lipsticks with my logo on them. They were beautiful and I felt I picked a perfect name for them.
Kissmeco came from my initials KMC. You pronounce “Kissmeco” all together and the “cosmetics” is the separate word- Kissmeco Cosmetics. The co in Kissmeco means “Conley, cosmetics and company”.
I fell head over heels once I began to teach myself how to make the lipsticks. The manufacturer had a few issues with my package which led me to me making them myself. I bought a few ingredients and began trial and error for about six months. I felt more connected to my brand at this point because I knew my product. I started to become more confident within myself.
I’ve learned so much about myself since I started a business. I knew I couldn’t be a business owner without knowing how to stay within a budget and prioritize. I learned so much about myself on a spiritual level and to not fear elevation.
My goals for the future are to have a physical location for Kissmeco Cosmetics + Day Spa. I currently attend The Salon Professional Academy for my Esthetician license [skin care specialist]. I plan to expand my brand with that certification and use it to open more doors that haven’t been opened yet. After I have Kissmeco running itself, I plan to start a few other ventures focusing in self-education, entrepreneurship, etc.
What is the inspiration for your work?
I’m inspired by the grind. The behind the scenes work it takes to get to the next level of success whether it’s from artists in the music industry, tech, beauty, whatever. I love witnessing the growth in people. Ming Lee inspired me because I watched her build her brand using social media and taking advantage of her resources. I thought success was attained by putting up more money than effort but I soon realized it’s the other way around by watching her and other entrepreneurs through my phone.
Kissmeco Cosmetics will be a household brand for women of color in the future. I plan to innovate new ways of how beauty is represented by us starting here in Little Rock and later expanding. I want this brand to inspire others to tap into their gifts and to go hard for them starting where they are and with what they have. There is beauty in the hustle and embracing that helps you understand yourself and to appreciate and be open to inspiration wherever it comes from. That’s why I post a lot of my struggles as well as triumphs all while continuing to push through to get to the next level.
What would you say to prevent an upcoming artist from making the same mistakes you have made?
One thing I can say is never make up your mind too quick or think you have to have things set in stone quickly. Be patient! You have to let some things play out because you can get a new insight days, weeks and even months after you’ve made your decision or an action you’ve made.
Sometimes I can get anxious and feel like I’m supposed be a lot further on my journey and I tend to make fast decisions. Whether I need to change my logo, website or spend money on new ingredients to use, I just make the decision and act on it. Then, I’m like “Why didn’t I take my time on this?” “Why am I in a rush?”
It’s never a race. Never. I’m in no competition with anyone but I compete with myself and I can be hard on myself at times. It’s something I’m still learning to this moment.
Take your time. Appreciate the small stuff. Learn the lesson in whatever you made the mistake in and make the honest effort to grow from it.
What obstacles have you faced as a Black Artist/Business Owner? How did you overcome them?
The obstacles I’ve faced have been not feeling supported by family and friends. Although I haven’t stopped on my journey, that feeling of not feeling supported can get in the way at times. When I first started, I didn’t get the reaction or back up that I thought I would get, so I became very private with what I was doing. But I realized and later learned that one, it’s not about me. Two, let things play out. I slowly started to open up about how serious I was about my business and began to gain understanding from my family. Most times in situations, you can control what happens if you just change your outlook and attitude. Count your blessings and remain positive, always.