Erica Hardy, Viola Fox, LLC - CEO
On days when I just want to check out and I know checking out isn’t an option, I look in the mirror and say, “You owe it to yourself, to arch your eyebrows and put on some lipgloss; You have work to do.” Make-up does more than change how a woman looks. It can change how she feels. Add a new hair style, a fierce dress and the right pumps, a woman who may have not wanted to get out of bed can go out and conquer the world.
But let’s face it; make-up isn’t magic. Some women use it to cover up. Covering pain, disappointment, rejection, scars – both internal and external. When you have to do, what you have to do, but don’t want the world to know that you are going through, make-up is more like war paint. It’s the literal approach to putting our best face forward no matter what may come your way.
For Erica Hardy, make-up was her way to come up… out of depression and homelessness. But wearing it wasn’t enough. She started a professional cosmetics line under the brand name Viola Fox because working for someone else was no longer working for her.
Viola Fox offers a wide range of cosmetics for face, eyes, and lips. Foundations from sheer to full coverage. Water-proof mascaras and brow tints. Refillable, highly pigmented eye shadow pallets in over 200 colors. Bright and bold lip wear in a variety of textures. Cleansers and toners to remove make up that will also tone, hydrate, and firm skin. This is one Black Owned Beauty Brand that has make-up for everyone and all skin types.
In this interview, Erica Hardy is baring it all: sharing her journey, giving advice, and establishing her goals. Underneath the highlights and eye shadow is a woman with a story. Erica Hardy is sharing hers.
MRTV: What did you do before you decided to start your own business and what inspired you to start a cosmetics line?
EH: I was in Retail Management for over 15 years. But I was struggling with a condition called Endometriosis [since] I was 18, which caused a lot of pain and I would have surgeries often. Because of the condition I would lose jobs and by 2012, I was homeless with my 2 sons. I cried until I couldn’t anymore. I prayed. I sat quiet for about 30 minutes and I thought to myself I need something that will make me enough money to buy a house, cash. That same night I came up with the logo and the name. I didn’t know what I would do with the name. Afterwards, everywhere I went people were asking me if I was a makeup artist, and hit me like a brick; I put the plan into action.
MRTV: Describe your lip line and your ideal customer.
EH: My lip line has increased to over 460 versions and colors made of liquid mattes, cream lipsticks, velvet mattes; lip-glosses, lip shine and lipstick pallets. My ideal customer honestly is a customer with a pulse. My products are for all ages, all races and all sexes. Our products are cruelty free and we also have mineral make-up for customers with sensitive skin.
MRTV: As an entrepreneur, what are some challenges you’ve faced along the way and how did you overcome them?
EH: No family support has been my most difficult challenge. But my sons believe in me so much that it helped me get over no family support. I didn’t have a surplus of money, so I had to decide which bills I wouldn’t pay. I couldn’t get a loan. I have been called crazy. I cried a lot but no matter I couldn’t give up. It’s almost like an overwhelming feeling of Succeed or Die. My faith and drive are so strong, I figured if I just keeping trusting God and keep working with what little I have, God will provide.
I was being told not to let people know that I’m black. I can’t do that because that’s who I am, a strong Black woman leaving my footprint as a black woman so that wasn’t an option. I was told black people won’t support me. So again, I prayed for strength and peace because I refuse to believe that Black means “no” or “can’t”, in determining ones success.
MRTV: How does your line inspire change in the beauty industry?
EH: I hope that my line inspires change in the beauty industry in ways that will carry on for decades. I hope that my line changes the stigma around companies owned by minorities, which in return will inspire the growth of minority companies in the beauty industry.
MRTV: What would you say sets your cosmetics line apart from other black-owned beauty brands?
EH: I honestly don’t compare my company to others and I don’t know other owners’ stories or their struggles. What I can say is I am that girl next door that had low self-esteem, I’m that girl that became a single mother at 18, I’m that lady that you past in the grocery store. I was never a video vixen, I don’t have a celebrity husband or boyfriend. I wasn’t on a reality show. I could be anyone of you reading this article. I was just a mom that wanted a better life for her sons and a woman that want to leave a legacy behind. I am you, her, her, and her.
MRTV: Best moment of your career so far?
EH: Seeing my sign glow outside my retail location was a beautiful moment but the reactions I get from my customers is hand down the best moments of my career thus far.
MRTV: Favorite product from your line and why is it your favorite?
EH: My favorite product is my peppamint lip balm. It plumps my lips, it freshens breath, and it moisturizes while providing and awesome shine. I keep a tube everywhere.
MRTV: What advice would you give to someone interested in creating a cosmetics line?
EH: Make sure it is what you really want. Plan it out; know what you want. Be more concerned with what you want your customers to say about your products, rather than who already has a cosmetic line. If you keep your eyes on your own goals, I believe it will help you move closer to your destiny.
MRTV: What is your morning ritual?
EH: I wake up check my social media notifications on my way to the bathroom, I complete my morning grooming. And I plan my day. I set a [social media] post goal and I decide on how many designs I want to create each day. I set a sales goal and I go from there.
MRTV: Best splurge you've ever made?
EH: My first big product order!
MRTV: Perfect date night?
EH: I haven’t been on a date in 6 years. I have old fashion values yet I’m a tomboy, so I like shooting pool eating wings and drinking a beer, while looking as a doll. I love dates that are fun and comfortable and, yet I want to feel that the guy is in to only me.
MRTV: What would you say are your goals for next year?
EH: Next year, I plan have top sales in 10 states. I plan to complete a 10-city tour and plan to go on a 2-week vacation for my birthday.
You can shop the entire Viola Fox line at www.ViolaFox.com and make sure you follow Erica on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Viola Fox is now 20% OFF with your coupon only found in the Ultimate Black Love Gift Guide.