Headshot of Melissa Arpino, founder of Stripped Beauty.
Founder Melissa Arpino explains how finding a need to fill and not being afraid to ask questions are two key ingredients that go into creating a successful business. — Stripped Beauty

Entrepreneurship is all about taking risks. As the founder of vegan skin care line Stripped Beauty, Melissa Arpino has learned that “taking a risk” in itself is not risky — the real challenge, she said, comes from ensuring each risk you take is highly calculated.

The best way to do that? Ask questions, especially of people who have already been there.

“Starting a business comes with so many choices and it's hard figuring it all out,” Arpino said. “I've learned that it's all about learning, collaborating with other business owners, and not being afraid to ask questions.”

Along the way, Arpino has learned a lot about herself and about business throughout her entrepreneurial journey. Here are a few of her best insights for other aspiring business owners.

[Read more: Building Brand Awareness for Small Businesses]

The best business ideas are born out of necessity

Stripped Beauty started as an idea born out of necessity. Arpino has sensitive skin, and was looking for products that wouldn’t cause a breakout. She collaborated with her mother, a cosmetic chemist and the founder of Hudson Valley Skin Care, to develop something that would work for her.

“[My mother and I] started Stripped after experimenting with different ingredients to help treat my skin,” she said. “After finding that simple, more minimal-ingredient-based formulas were working with my sensitive, acne-prone skin, we wanted to share it with the world!”

Many of Stripped’s products cater to sensitive skin, like the Flower Hour Toner and the Cosmo Clay Mask. Similar products on the market can come with a high price tag, which is why Arpino strives to make her brand's products affordable. She describes Stripped Beauty as a brand that’s all about simplicity with high-quality products at low price points — none of the company’s products are more than $30.

Social media has been a wonderful and free tool to attract new customers. It's so amazing to live in a partially digital age where we can take a video, upload it to TikTok and Instagram, and potentially reach thousands of people for free.

Melissa Arpino, Founder, Stripped Beauty

Grow through community support

Arpino relies on several different communities to receive support and uses digital resources to her advantage. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Arpino learns a lot from other LGBTQ+ business owners. She finds a lot of entrepreneur resources at Growthink and loves Affinity Inc. Magazine.

“[There are] so many organizations, expos, and networking events to explore as well,” Arpino told CO—.

Arpino also tries to stay consistent with her social media interactions and branding, a key strategy that helps spread Stripped Beauty’s message.

“Social media has been a wonderful and free tool to attract new customers,” she said. “It's so amazing to live in a partially digital age where we can take a video, upload it to TikTok and Instagram, and potentially reach thousands of people for free.”

[Read More: How to Get Involved in Your Local Community as a Small Business]

Success doesn’t happen overnight

While Arpino has been successful at trying to reach a specific audience, she’s had to work to accept the challenges along the way.

One of the largest challenges she has faced so far is trying to grow as a brand on a smaller budget. But like a true business leader, Arpino has come up with solutions to overcome this difficulty.

“I always take a step back and remember that there are entire teams that work behind all the brands that pop up and grow overnight,” Arpino said. “I'm just one person and the success is not going to happen immediately.”

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Published June 16, 2022