Photo by Izzy Burgess ’19
Entrepreneurial partners Regina Ye ’18 and Rebecca Grossman ’18 hosted a makeup swap in North Rockefeller.
BY CAITLIN LYNCH ’20
Zirui, a cosmetics start-up run by Mount Holyoke students, hosted a makeup swap on Tuesday night in North Rockefeller hall. Students brought their gently-used and new-and-ignored cosmetic products and left the event with new-to-them goods.
The event had stations set up for lip, eye, face and nail products and students had the option of swapping what they had or labeling their products with price tags and making a sale. Many students took products home that they were excited to try out, including Emmy Biddle ’20. “This event was an amazing idea,” said Biddle. “I know I have so many makeup products that I don’t use, so I’ve been excited about this event for a while. Free stuff is always great!”
The event served both as a practical event for Mount Holyoke students and as a chance for Zirui to promote their first original product: a travel case for liquid cosmetic products.
Regina Ye ’18 and Rebecca Grossman ’18 have been working together to promote the product on social media, and the makeup swap was a first opportunity to show the product to a group of people in person. “This event was so exciting because it served as a culmination point in where we are with our product,” said Grossman.
The cosmetic packaging product has many unique features, including triangular bottles that fit together when the case is folded up. The bottles stay attached to the case through magnets, which keep the bottles secure and make them easily accessible. Users of the product can empty their liquid cosmetics into the bottles of the carrying case and store their products in a uniform way, which addresses the issue that many beauty products are designed independently from one another and are not easily stored together or secure enough for travel.
“I think [the case] is a welcome innovation,” said Emilia Nobrega ’20, creator of makeup-themed Facebook group Mount Holyoke MUA (Makeup Academy). “Many brands of makeup packaging do not work well with each other, and this product is a helpful solution to that.”
Ye came up with the idea for the product in an entrepreneurship class in the fall of 2016 when she realized that a reoccurring issue in her life was transporting her cosmetics when she travelled. Over the summer, Grossman joined Ye and promoted the product over social media, creating a Facebook page, website (www.getzirui.com) and Instagram account (@getzirui). Ye attended workshops and training programs in Springfield over the summer through a nine-week entrepreneurship program called Valley Venture Mentors, which provides opportunities to network with investors and learn about growing a business. The company secured a provisional patent -—valid in the United States— in early 2017 and a PCT —international patent protection— on Monday.
Ye and Grossman are optimistic about the future of their company. “We are hoping to launch in early November or even late October,” said Ye on the release of the original cosmetic case. “If that works out,” continued Ye, “we hope to become not just one product but a product family.” Expansions that Zirui is considering for the future include producing their first product in navy as well as the original pink, adding a mirror to the inside of the case, potentially pairing up with a cosmetic company to produce a travel case that comes pre-filled with beauty products and expanding to other types of cosmetic packaging products.
As for future events, Zirui is looking to build on its momentum by continuing to host events on campus and spreading the word of their business. “I think that events like this are a great way to have fun while raising awareness for our company here at Mount Holyoke,” said Grossman. And after the event on Tuesday, it’s clear that the interest for further events is present among students. “I had never heard of this start-up before this event,” said Olivia Solomon ’18, “but it’s a great idea and I think that this should definitely be a regular event on campus.”