It’s official: we are in AWE of Jamika Martin. After starting her own skincare brand while a student at UCLA, Jamika graduated college early and pursued her endeavor full time. Creating a business while a student is impressive enough, but get this — despite her growing success, she still hand makes and hand packages every single one of her own products. For those whose lives (and confidence levels) have been changed because of ROSEN Skincare, this passion, attention to detail, and hard work does not go unnoticed. As your new favorite role model (and your new favorite skincare line), read on to hear Jamika’s amazing story.
What was your first job, and how did you land it?
My first ever job was working at my local waterpark back in Paso Robles. The Ravine (the name of the waterpark) was like the summer job that everyone did once they could work (I’m from a small town). I actually remember just applying online and never hearing back about my application because they were supposed to send out an email inviting you to interview. One of my friends told me that they just went to the interview anyway and gave me the time slots. I ended up showing up and interviewing and I got the job. I worked there for about 4-5 years, starting out in concessions then moving on to become a Cabana Girl, which is basically a waitress on steroids because we serve giant parties throughout the whole park.
Tell us a little about what ROSEN Skincare is. What sets your line of products apart from competitors?
My tagline for ROSEN is “Clear skin. Clean ingredients. Confidence.” and it’s really just that. ROSEN is a natural skincare line that is aimed at millennials and Gen Z-ers who care about the brand and ingredients behind a product but also need it to work for our young skin. And by young skin, I mean things like acne, scarring, blackheads, etc. The lens of creating natural products for these skin types is my differentiator. Yes, natural skincare is different than a lot of the skincare on the market, but it’s out there. However, as someone who has super difficult skin, I know that my products need to be not only natural, but also powerful on skin types like mine because that just isn’t being done.
What led you to create such a line? Why are you passionate about it?
Honestly, I created this line out of my own personal struggles. I have been in and out of the dermatologist’s office for years, going on all types of medications and using so many different products to get my acne and scar-prone skin under control. So, it has always been hard enough finding a routine that works for my skin but add in natural ingredients on top of that and it was nearly impossible. When I searched for products that fell right at this intersection, I was left with a few different products I could trust, but no brands that spoke to this need and my issue. So I created it.
I’m passionate about ROSEN because I know the struggle of finding a skincare routine that makes you feel beautiful. I’m all about this self-love movement going on, especially the posts that I’ve seen about accepting/embracing things like acne. I wasn’t this strong or confident and I remember just looking in the mirror sometimes and breaking down crying because of my skin. I know what it’s like to be so frustrated and self-conscious. So when I see people use the products and love them or message me about how I’m helping their confidence, it fuels the fire to keep pushing for these products.
You founded ROSEN Skincare while you were an undergrad — uh, that’s amazing! Tell us about the process of building a company while also completing your schoolwork.
Thank you!! Honestly, I have so many people ask me how I did it and I don’t really know. I just knew that I wanted to build something for myself, but when I started out I had no plans of doing this full time. However, over time I was more and more passionate about what I was creating and began to believe in myself more. When I first started, I remember thinking, “I don’t know how much time I’ll be able to dedicate to this” and by the time I was about to graduate I was just like “I really don’t even care about my grades, all I want to do is focus on ROSEN.” Of course, I didn’t let my grades or anything fall apart, but it was clear where my passions and interests lied.
The biggest thing I learned was time management. Organize your day, your week, your quarter (semester) efficiently so you aren’t wasting time. When you’re running a startup, time is your biggest asset, so to balance that with school is super tricky but necessary. In the end, I would do it all again because you get so much more time to build without any expectations from anyone! Now that I’ve graduated I feel like the pressure to grow is on.
You graduated early in order to pursue ROSEN full time. Was that a difficult decision?
Not really. I went into my third year at UCLA kind of thinking I might graduate early, but not sure. At this time I also had not decided that I was going to do ROSEN full time. It was my Winter Quarter at UCLA that I realized I could drop my minor and fit all my classes in and finish early. I was a Business Economics major so the fact that I finished early isn’t too astounding because I’m pretty sure a lot of people do it. Looking back, I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t graduate early. I see my friends posting on Snapchat or Twitter about studying for finals or people texting me during class and I do not miss it at all! I miss UCLA and my friends and clubs I was a part of, but I’m happy I finished my classes early to focus on my long-term goals.
I’m happy I finished my classes early to focus on my long-term goals.
Now, as a full-time business owner, what does a typical day look like for you?
It’s all over the place. As the sole owner of ROSEN, I wear so many hats. Typically, I’ll get up in the morning and go to the gym. After I get back and have breakfast/coffee, I’ll get started on some work. First is usually planning for the day and checking emails, getting to the urgent needs first. Most of my planning consists of things like reaching out/following up with influencers, evaluating my ecommerce growth, and coming up with new growth strategies or ways to automate my processes. Right now, since I’m so early on, most of my day looks like me asking, “What can I do to grow this?” At the end of the day, I’ll usually pack orders when my boyfriend gets home from work while we watch a movie or something.
How has ROSEN grown since its beginning?
ROSEN has honestly had most of its growth since I finished UCLA and have been able to devote myself full time. I started my Instagram and website about a year ago and it’s been amazing to see us get consistent customers and revenue with these platforms. I remember making like $100 a month when I sold through consignment in a boutique or even times where I wouldn’t make anything all month. Now it’s gotten to a point where we are making much more than that and it is continuing to grow.
Growth was for sure super slow at the beginning while I was in school. Since graduating, I have really been able to dive into the methods that work and evaluate them to show consistent growth. Now I’m super happy to say that ROSEN is at a point where it has consistently grown ~30% each month for the past few months — I just have to make sure it keeps going!
What was the scariest part of starting your own business?
Failing. I remember when I first started this, I reached out to a girl in my hometown who owned a boutique to sell product there. I was selling product with her for about four months before I ever made a Facebook page, website, Instagram, or even told anyone I was doing it. I think I was so scared to fail and I thought if I didn’t tell anyone, it wouldn’t matter if it flopped.
Now, everyone who knows me knows that this is what I’m doing and that I graduated UCLA a year early to pursue this. I have a lot of expectations on me so failing is the scariest thing I can think of. I don’t have any paid employees or anything at this moment, so I expect getting to the point where I have a payroll will be the scariest part of it all. For now, it’s just hoping that all this growth doesn’t stop or drop off or that the product just doesn’t stick with people.
Is there anything you wish you had known ahead of time before going into business?
Being in cosmetics, I wish I knew more about formulation before jumping on this train. I hand make all of our products and I plan to always keep production in-house. When I started out, there were so many things I didn’t know and so much money I wasted on product that went bad or wasn’t how I wanted it.
As far as the business aspect, it would probably be to do evaluations at least every month on the progress of my business. I didn’t start doing this until recently and it was just a huge “duh” moment. This has allowed me to really track what works and what doesn’t and use ROSEN’s marketing efforts much more effectively.
What skills do you possess that you believe make you stand out as a successful business owner? If someone wants to start a business, what skills should they hone?
Perseverance, dedication, and passion. If you want to start a business you need to love what you’re doing and have so much faith that it’s going to work or else it’s all going to crumble. Like I said, I had months where I made nothing off of my products, but I refused to give up. I don’t think giving up on this has really ever crossed my mind because I love what I do and I believe in what I’m doing so much. Starting a business is really hard work, but if you believe in what you’ve got and you truly work as hard as you did day one on day 100, you’ll be solid.
What do you feel has been your greatest success thus far? What are you most proud of?
I think I’m living my greatest success right now. ROSEN is super new and I’m in the midst of growing this company each month. Every time I look at the metrics, I’m so excited and proud of what I’m creating. I get to reach new customers every day and give them the ability to try out my products. I think the thing I am the proudest of is making my customers feel confident. Receiving a message or a review on how well my products have worked for someone is the best feeling. If ROSEN stopped growing today and I only had 100 people telling me how much they loved my product, I would be bummed because we stopped reaching more people, but I would still be so satisfied and proud of myself for being able to change how 100 people feel about themselves.
If you want to start a business you need to love what you’re doing and have so much faith that it’s going to work or else it’s all going to crumble. I had months where I made nothing off of my products, but I refused to give up.
Tell us about a time you feel you failed. What did you learn from it?
Early on, I reached out to so many local boutiques to carry my product and almost all of them either never responded or said they weren’t interested. This was a reality check because I had to ask myself why they didn’t want to carry the product or what about it turned them off. I learned to never take no for an answer and keep working to make your product or line better. Your product may not be for everybody and people who have never used your product may not understand what you think is so special about it. You’ve got to convey your message, value, and product so well that there is no question about it. This is definitely something I’m still learning, but I’ve gotten so much better at it.
What’s a business lesson that you’re still learning?
Probably the 80/20 rule and all of its different variations. The biggest variation of this rule that I am learning about and testing out right now it the idea that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. My goal right now is to find that 20%, what they look like, how to keep them engaged, and how to find more of them.
When you need guidance and mentorship, to whom do you look?
I have acquired so many great mentors at UCLA so I honestly usually go to them or to a podcast. I have mentors that I’ve gained through classes, other connections, or through our amazing entrepreneurial program Startup UCLA. Depending on the question or place I need help with, I’ll reach out to one of these individuals. My mentors have helped me so much throughout my journey and are always offering practical and useful advice.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I could go on and on about super specific things that I’ve received advice about like automating different processes or implementing different organizational methods, but some of the best general advice I heard was from a podcast where one of the guests said to do the easiest and most fun things on a Monday and the hardest things on a Friday. Mondays already suck so you should make your life easier by doing the things you look forward to early on in the week.
Another piece of advice I received was to never go a few weeks without evaluating what’s going on in your business and what’s working. This way, you can stay on top of the growth metrics and ditch the ones that aren’t turning out to be useful.
Other than that, my mentors are constantly giving me such great jewels of information or insight that helps my overall processes and structure as a business so much.
What’s next for you and your company?
Growth. Right now, I’m really focusing on finding new customers and bringing old ones back. I’m not focused on creating new products (which is hard in the beauty space) because I want the products we have now to get stronger followings. New and better ways to find customers and bring them to our site is what I see in the immediate future. For the distant future, I want to start talking to buyers at stores like Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Sephora, Nordstrom, and other big chain brands that have a fit for natural, indie beauty brands going after a young audience like mine.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Keep doing you and love yourself a little more. You’re going to complete everything you’ve set your mind to, but never doubt your self-worth or what makes you beautiful.
You’re going to complete everything you’ve set your mind to, but never doubt your self-worth or what makes you beautiful.
Jamika Martin is The Everygirl…
Michael B. Jordan & Matthew McConaughey
Guilty pleasure song?
Mmmm honestly probably “Body Like a Back Road” by Sam Hunt. I love that song so much but I am not a big fan of modern country music and people probably would never think I listen to him.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?
Rihanna — no doubt. She’s a mogul, an artist, a fashion guru, and just an overall icon that I look up to in so many ways. I probably could have put a more strategic or educated answer, but she was my first instinct and probably my truest answer.