A Deep Dive into the world of a Beauty Startup
An Interview with Mavis Hicks By Elisabeth Morgan
BOSTON– Many of us know the beauty industry as one that has wreaked havoc on the insecurities of womxn everywhere in the name of profit. Of course, we see this behavior and marketing strategy used by bigger brand names while there are plenty of small business owners genuinely interested in the well being of their consumers, but who are we to trust?
Mavis Hicks, founder and owner of Beauty and Simplicity, does not only run a wellloved online skincare beauty store, but radiates beauty herself- inside and out.
So, you may ask, what is her story?
Born and raised in Northern California, Hicks moved to the East Coast to attend college at Johnson and Wales where she received her degree in baking and pastry arts and food service management with a concentration in sales, meeting, and event management. She loves pampering herself, she’s a full time essential worker, and her passion lies in wellness.
Hicks’ entrepreneurial journey began in 2015 when she was looking for an escape from her full time job. She said, “I wasn’t happy with it.. I’m not from Massachusetts so I was here by myself at the time and I just felt stuck, I felt powerless, I felt like I had nowhere to go.”
As typical for a young adult, student loans and other bills started piling up and Hicks was looking for an additional way to make income, “I was thinking what skills do I have? What’s something of need to people- What do I need? I’ve always been creative, I’ve always loved Martha Stewart, I’ve always been crafty, and not to mention, I went to culinary school!”
After some contemplation Hicks decided to make whipped shea body butter for several reasons but mostly, she said, it was because she has eczema and her brother was always telling her she needed to use natural products on her skin. Hicks explained that her brother was into the “all natural” lifestyle before it was ever a trend, and at the time she wasn’t quite sure what that meant.
However and needless to say, with her educational background researching new natural products was second nature to her and she found joy in doing it. When the research began, Beauty and Simplicity was born in Hicks’ Boston home as a passion project.
Shea body butter being Hicks first product was fun for her because she enjoyed being able to debunk the beauty care myth that oil is not good for your skin, “A lot of people don’t think about putting butter on your skin- it sounds horrible, it’s gonna clog my pores, it’s gonna be oily, it’s gonna feel greasy, but it doesn’t. If it’s done right it doesn’t do any of those things…It really is so much better than these chemically created products that don’t feed your skin.”
Soon enough, Hicks was attending vending sites all over Boston. She said, “The goal and objective was never to make money because I wasn’t making enough money to do anything anyway, but I looked at vending events as opportunities to meet new people, opportunities to get feedback, and opportunities to learn. I’m always a student of learning, I always want to know.”
Of course, none of this was exactly easy. Hicks described the anxiety of starting a new business and putting yourself out there, “The jump from wanting to do something to actually doing it is very hard. You have this idea, and you want it, but youre a little bit scared, kind of embarrassed that it’s not perfect. It’s not what you think it should be.”
But, she said, “You gotta take what you deserve!”
Hicks said, “We would have different functions and different events. So I planned this event, I thought ‘this is my big break,’ I’m gonna introduce this product I’ve been working on with these ladies. I went to Michaels. I got these little jars, I got all these things. I was so excited about it, and I brought it to them. They loved it! They really liked it, I was shocked and surprised and I was honored, you know, this thing I made in my kitchen they actually used and it worked for them. And they really encouraged me to keep on going.”
Hicks doesn’t have any family in Boston but said these events helped her feel less alone and that really great friends helped fill that void, “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
The products speak for themselves, but Hicks says that if she wasn’t the one who made them she would feel exactly the same about them. She said, “It’s true testimony, I love my products, I love them. I use them every single day, I rant and rave about them, and I tell people it’s hard for me to sell because i’m not a salesperson…but I like to SHARE with people. Just try it. 9 times out of 10 people really like it, actually I’m being bashful. 10 times out of 10 people really like it!”
Hicks feels very strongly that her products are made for all women, and that women typically put themselves last, especially mothers. “I’m so passionate about wellness and care, because how can you really take care of someone if you don’t take care of and value yourself? It’s so backwards…We should value ourselves as much as the people we care for.”
Additionally, and what becomes apparent by scrolling through the Beauty and Simplicity Instagram page, is that Hicks celebrates and showcases Black women in every fashion. She explained, “Black women, we’re not showcased number one, and we’re not showcased authentically. And so my page is full of not these models women, but just women! All different types of women, and dark skinned women at that. As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed that a lot of things aren’t tailored to us. I’m mindful of that and I want to celebrate all women.”
Hicks reflected, and said that she has a lot of friends who have darker skin and that the way they speak about themselves, the lack of confidence and love they have for themselves, genuinely hurts her soul. That’s why celebrating and showcasing all sorts of natural women on her Instagram is so important to her because she wants to inspire self love.
Not only that, but Hicks said that her Instagram page is also like an open love letter to herself. She said, “We’re so hard on ourselves and I know this because I’m the hardest on myself, it’s so funny, they always say practice what you preach, I’m learning to do that… Everyone always has the best of them in them, but if you’re focused on something simple like what you look like on the outside it’s not easy…I have a hard time celebrating myself, I kind of celebrate myself through celebrating other people. It’s nice to be able to go back [on Instagram] and look at things and think you know what? Things aren’t that bad. Love yourself right now because things can change tomorrow.”
Furthermore, Hicks encourages all women interested in starting their own business to just… do it. She said, do something that feels good to you, something you love, something that doesn’t feel like a chore, that nothing is perfect and that if people want to celebrate you and give you their money, you just have to do it!
She said, “I’m always a believer that we all can win. We are all gonna win. There’s more than enough to go around. I’ve always had an abundant mindset and I always want all of us to win, it’s no fun to be the one in the park with all the candy, let’s all share and have a good time.”
If you’d like to support Beauty and Simplicity check out Hicks Etsy site here and use code ‘VEGAN15’ for 15% off your order!
VeganZine is dedicated to holding our fellow vegan businesses, as well as ourselves, accountable for following through in action to support not just the Black Lives Matter movement, but all racial and social justice movements. We like to remind others that educating ourselves on racism and not experiencing it firsthand is a privilege, and that these actions should be considered the bare minimum.
VeganZine has created a list of Black owned vegan businesses in the New England area, and will continue this series of interviews on racial and social justice on our platform. Individually, the VeganZine team in their personal and professional lives has taken action in a variety of ways including attending protests, donating, signing petitions, and speaking out against racism on and off screen.
We encourage everyone to continue educating yourselves and others, speak out against injustice when you see it, join protests if you can (wear a mask!), donate, sign petitions, read books by Black authors, listen to podcasts by Black creators, support your local Black owned businesses, spread information, and constantly check to make sure your veganism is intersectional.
Additionally, the VeganZine team is actively seeking Black voices from the New England community, please email email@example.com if you are interested in writing for us!