In a series of “Second Half Beauty Stars” you’ll be introduced to men & women who have made incredible leaps in their own lives. These profiles will hopefully inspire you to take a deep breath, make the jump and get going on living the next phase of your life with the most passion, authenticity and COLOR as possible. Kicking off the series this week is Tracy Trellis, the incredible founder of one of the hands down cutest clean beauty retailers in the country- Trellis Beauty.
Meet Tracy Trellis- founder Raleigh, North Carolina’s first clean beauty store & Beauty Independent Beacon Award nominee: Trellis Beauty !
You know that feeling when you meet someone for the first time and their energy is so magnetic it just draws you in? Well Tracy is that to the 10th degree! In fact her spirit is so naturally sparkly and shiny that when I first spotted her on the sales floor of a Nordstrom cosmetic department many years ago I said to another team member: “She needs to work for us!”! Her confidence while working with clients was mesmerizing and her laugh could be from across the store. Luckily for me, I was successful in recruiting her to come be on my team at not just one, but two companies!
Since then I’ve been rooting her on as she has turned her online shop into an absolutely adorable clean beauty boutique, expanded into becoming the country’s first “beauty steam bar” and now has launched her own in house skincare brand! She is a multi tasking woman on a mission but graciously carved out some time from her jam packed schedule to share a little of her journey from department store makeup salesperson to badass business owner.
The birth of Trellis Beauty
SHB: It’s so crazy (and cool) to see how much you have transformed and accomplished just in the time that we have known each other. You have always shone so brightly and I’ve watched people just naturally gravitate towards you no matter what role you’ve been in. In fact I remember watching you on the sales floor of a Nordstrom in Atlanta when you were an Assistant Manager and thinking “she needs to work for me” and that’s when I recruited you the first time! For my readers can you share what your career was prior to launching Trellis Beauty?
TT: I’be worked with some of the top Global Beauty Brands in the industry: 6 years at MAC, Dermalogica Sales Consultant, Trish McEvoy Makeup Artist and the ones that really stood out to me where as Nordstrom Cosmetics Department Manager and Laura Mercier executive.
SHB: Being a fellow makeup and skincare junkie and working in retail, I’m sure you thought often about having your own place with lines perfectly edited and chosen by you. What made the switch for you from “mainstream” beauty to clean beauty? I think I remember you telling me about seeing a clean beauty brand in a client’s makeup bag during a lesson you were giving and being intrigued.
TT: Yes, that’s right! I discovered that the industry isn’t regulated (which I think we just assume it is when working in the Beauty Industry) and the laws of regulation haven’t been updated since 1938. This definitely catapulted me into the Clean Beauty space and learning more about it.
SHB: How did you go from “intrigued” to full on “this is my calling”? Do you remember the exact moment that you knew you wanted to start your own company?
TT: Having my own beauty boutique has always been a dream. I loved supporting my boutique accounts when working my corporate jobs because I was so intrigued on what it takes to own a shop. After continuing to educate myself more on Clean(er) Beauty and how the demand for that category started growing, it only made sense to me that I would dedicate the Trellis brand to vetting out the best of the best indie and clean beauty brands. I saw the demand was there but it wasn’t be answered in my city of Raleigh, so Trellis was born! Raleigh’s first Clean Beauty shop!
The Trellis Way: Confidently Uncomfortable
SHB: I admire how courageous you were from the beginning, voicing your beliefs in how mainstream beauty wasn’t necessarily the healthiest option anymore , but did you ever feel you were going to get a backlash from the bigger beauty brands that you had worked with or have a fear of walking away from the “known”?
TT: I’m a huge believer that everything that is brought into my life is for a reason. So with that said, I never feared the backlash at the time and never regret speaking out. 4 years later, those same brands are creating cleaner options now for their customers! I guess that being on the beginning of a what now is a ‘trend’ in the industry was the risk I was willing to take.
SHB: That also ties in to the perception of you and your journey from the outside. You seemed confident in your choices from the very get and that was so admirable to watch. Did you ever have moments that you doubted yourself and thought “what the heck am I doing?” Or did busting out of your comfort zone come naturally to you? How many “nos” from other people did you have to power through?
One of the greatest compliments I ever received in my corporate career was that I perform at my best when I’m uncomfortable. So I’ve always focused on being uncomfortable. I know that probably sounds a bit unsettling, but sometimes the greatest decisions in business are made when you’re uncomfortable. I’m always trying to encourage my team to step out of their comfort zones. To be honest, I never had doubts, but to anyone reading this that may have doubts, always listen to your intuition. Too many doubts could be a sign that it’s not right, however don’t confuse that with just being uncomfortable.
Evolution of Trellis Beauty Brand
SHB: Let’s talk about your amazing , constantly evolving brand! Just three short years ago you were strictly an commerce site. Now you’ve not only doubled your retail space, launched the nation’s only beauty steam bar, been nominated for a HUGE industry award (Beacon award from Beauty Insider), but you’ve also launched your own brand! WHEW! That’s alot for the first 3 years!!
Wow, it’s SO crazy to think our website went live only 3 years ago! I’ve always strived to build a sustainable business. Being profitable within the first three years of a small business is amazing, BUT I’m in it for the long haul. Understanding what I learned from my years as a corporate cosmetic executive, you have to anniversary your numbers every year and to do that you need growth within different categories of your business.
For example, six months after opening our retail space it was apparent that retail alone is very capital intensive (I was self funded then and still now, but this is where other retailers bring on investors to scale if they plan to stay strictly a retail store) so instead we launched services. The country’s first Beauty Steam Bar was created and designed to bring in new clients while giving our long time guests a new experience.
Year two, we expanded our services into full facials while bringing in new retail brands which funded our brick and mortar expansion doubling our square footage. I never dreamed of creating our own Skincare line (honestly NEVER)! Understanding how margins work in the beauty industry, the secret is in having your own product. That’s really where the “money” is. But that’s not why I set out to launch the Trellis Beauty Treatment Collective. It was more about the demand we were creating for certain categories.
The School of Google
SHB: Yes! Tell me about those launches! They have been so fun to watch as they haven’t been what would typically be thought of as the first brand products. You really thought outside of the box.
Our first launch was the Trellis Beauty Facial Steamer last year. We created such an amazing experience in store with our Beauty Steam Bar, however our followers from other states couldn’t experience it. We decided to find a manufacturer that would help us supply that demand. (And how did we find them? Google!) The same thing happened with our recent launch, Trellis Beauty Treatment Bars. We carry an Indie Brand that had facial soap bars that our clients LOVED but unfortunately the brand discontinued them. Our clients were devastated and immediately we went into planning mode. Cut to us literally googling how to make soaps! Lol
Ultimately we found a local soap maker that saw our vision and we started the process of making our own line of face soaps. Keeping in mind this was almost two years ago and we just launched them this week! So the process is definitely a long one. So if you were to ask me now if I’m interested in making our own skincare line? Yes!! I loved the process. It’s important to me to find holes in the shop and fill them within our Trellis Beauty Treatment Collective, it’s not about creating what already exists.
The Power of Pink , Smart Friends & Good Interns
SHB: I think you’re pretty much the QUEEN of branding! Even your FLOORS are on brand (a gorgeous bubble gum pink that, correct me if I’m wrong, is called “party time”). Did you always have this badass branding expert living inside of you or did you have to teach this to yourself? Everything from you signage, email blasts, and of course insta feed is so easily recognizable as Trellis Beauty! In fact I think of your color combination as you (blue, pink and yellow) when I see it in other places now lol!
TT: Thank you! Yes Partytime! Which there is a story behind that. Juanita Trellis, my grandmother and whom I’m named after use to work for Sherwin Williams but will always say I’m the one living out her dream of working in the beauty industry. We tested SO many different brands of pink but it was Sherman Willams Partytime pink that ended up being the perfect shade. It was meant to be. And my contractor tried talking me out of the pink floors, by the way!
SHB: Since you’ve done such an incredible job with your branding, what tips would you give to another business owner starting at scratch with branding?
Working with an expert in branding and design was key for me at the beginning. I’m sure many would not believe me when I say that design, especially interior design, does not come naturally to me and gives me major anxiety! When I first started out I had a vision and met with a friend of mine that is a branding expert, graphic designer so I would say look within your immediate circle first when starting out. It not only saves on up front costs, but it’s important to plan for those brainstorming sessions when you are going into business alone.
For example, I knew nothing about google analytics but knew I had to get my website on the first page of google search! So what did I do? Posted on Facebook, can anyone help me with google analytics? Sure enough I had a friend of a friend reach out to me for a FREE conversation! Google Trellis Beauty to see the results from that conversation 🙂 (Editor’s note, she is the first hit when googling Trellis Beauty)
SHB: Your social game is so strong too, from your stories, to your “Live at 5” every Friday, we really feel we know you and your store even those of us that don’t live and shop with you in person. Is social media something you enjoy?
TT: I Absolutely love social media. I will say that social media is a tool, that managed well, can really help your business grow. It’s a FULL time job, so if you can’t keep up as a business owner because you don’t enjoy it, hire someone that does. Don’t think you can afford it, find a way. Do NOT skip on social media platforms! A great tip, find high school or college students that love social media and bring them in as an intern. This way you don’t have to ‘pay’ but provide experience for them. This is a great idea for many positions in your company!
The Future of Trellis Beauty
SHB: Congratulations on your Beacon Award Nomination! I see you being mentioned in the same articles as Credo Beauty etc! What’s next for Trellis Beauty?
Ahh! Thank you!! Beauty Independent is SO dear to my heart and to even be nominated for the Beacon Award is such an honor! What’s NOT next for Trellis?! The sky’s the limit! So many things brewing right now that I can’t talk too much about but just know that our plan to scale into more markets is in full motion! Stay tuned!!
To check out Trellis Beauty for yourself click here ! They ship across the entire US and if you love all things beauty make sure to follow her on IG @trellisbeauty for fun behind the scenes on Tuesdays and Live at 5 Fridays !