A Wisconsin woman who started her own business hand-crafting makeup brushes has ended up with not just a quality product, but also quality time with her dad.
After a disappointing trip to Sephora last year, Izabelle Villafuerte, 24, began working with recycled wood to create her own makeup brushes at home.
Not yet a woodworking pro, she struggled a bit until her father Miguel, 52, offered to help — and soon the two were turning out beautiful handmade brushes together and launching Empresaria Cosmetics.
The father-daughter pair have already sold out of several small batches of brushes, and Izabelle tells DailyMail.com that she hopes to find enough success with the beauty brand to give her dad a comfortable retirement.
Izabelle Villafuerte, 24, and her dad Miguel, 52, have gone into business together making wooden makeup brushes
Empresaria Cosmetics has already sold out of several small batches of brushes
Izabelle’s parents allowed her to wear makeup at all until she was 15, but by the time she was allowed to, she was obsessed
It’s a particular twist that Izabelle and her father would launch a cosmetics company together considering neither of Izabelle’s parents allowed her to wear makeup at all until she was 15.
But once she was allowed, she was obsessed, and would spend most of her free time watching watching beauty tutorials and practicing.
Yet it wasn’t until about a year ago, after she’d graduated from college with a degree in environmental sciences, that she decided to treat herself to a nice, high-end makeup brush.
But when she got to Sephora, Izabelle wasn’t terribly impressed with what she saw.
‘I was disappointed by the lack of variation and expression in the brushes,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘I especially hated the look of the ferrule or metal part that holds the bristles. Even if the brush design was cute, the bulky metal was distracting and always fell off over time.’
Back at home, Izabelle — who also works full time as an environmental consultant — came across videos of men who’d made their own shaving brushes from wood, and realized she could do the same thing with makeup brushes.
After being disappointed by the selection of high-end makeup brushes at Sephora, she went home and made her own
She’s continued to practice and get better at it, and her dad has stepped in to help
‘As long as I can remember, whenever we needed something made or fixed, my dad could do it,’ Izabelle said
She has held close to a mission to be ethical and environmentally friendly, and only uses recycled wood
She soon got to work, fashioning her own brushes out of wood that was going to be thrown out — and her dad was happy to step up to and help.
‘As long as I can remember, whenever we needed something made or fixed, my dad could do it,’ Izabelle said. ‘Anything from building my mom a standing desk to fixing our cars.
‘When he saw me struggling to turn the wood he kindly jumped in to help. He was a natural at wood turning and soon agreed to take over the production of the brushes.’
It wasn’t long before they realized they had a marketable product on their hands, and last year, Izabelle launched Empresaria Cosmetics.
She sells her brushes online for $20 to $29 each, with sets going for $35 to $50.
Her signature designs have a simple wooden wands that grows wider at the top to accommodate bristles. She’s decorated them with flowers and butterflies, and mixes up the colors of the bristles.
She sells her brushes online for $20 to $29 each, with sets going for $35 to $50
Over time, she’s grown more creative, adding brushes that look like sticks of rock candy
She’s also made brushes that look like chocolate-covered pretzels decorated with sprinkles
Her favorite brushes are ones they’ve made inspired by Mexican Balero toys
‘Painting them is so fun and I love finding ways to incorporate my culture into the product,’ she said
Over time, she’s grown more creative, adding brushes that look like sticks of rock candy and chocolate-covered pretzels.
Her favorite brushes are ones they’ve made inspired by Mexican Balero toys.
‘One day the idea just came to me while I was car shopping with my dad,’ she said. ‘My family looked at me like I was crazy so it was really satisfying once my dad finally understood my vision and we created one!
‘Painting them is so fun and I love finding ways to incorporate my culture into the product.’
But even as the product line expands — they’ve been selling small batches but hope to have a strong launch in September — Izabelle is staying true to her eco-friendly mission, working exclusively with recycled wood.
‘We decided on recycled wood after I realized how big of an issue waste wood is,’ she explained. ‘Living in an area like Wisconsin, it’s not hard to find people giving away wood to save them a trip to the landfill. It is more cost-efficient for us to source bulk wood from recycled and sustainable sources than new wood.
Isabelle graduated from college with a degree in environmental sciences and brings her passion to the project
‘ We decided on recycled wood after I realized how big of an issue waste wood is,’ she explained
Her signature designs have a simple wooden wands that grows wider at the top to accommodate bristles. She’s decorated them with flowers and butterflies, and mixes up the colors of the bristles
‘We use a lot of reclaimed wood railings, since there seems to be a lot donated,’ she continued, adding that she is also looking into more eco-friendly packaging.
‘Currently our system is my dad turns the wood from a solid blank into the handle. He then passes the unfinished handle to me to sand, add decals and finish. We try to stay away from finishing that use harsh chemicals and stick to things like beeswax. Once this is done, we glue the brush heads in and package them.’
They’ve also sold out of several of their brushes, offering them both online and at local fairs and events.
But perhaps the best part of business so far has been the chance for the father-daughter duo to spend time together.
‘Working with my dad has been an amazing experience,’ Izabelle said. ‘My dad and I have always gotten along really well, he’s always cracking jokes and making me laugh while we work.
‘Working with my dad has been an amazing experience,’ Izabelle said. ‘It means so much to me that my dad believes in my business enough to use his free time to join me’
‘It means so much to me that my dad believes in my business enough to use his free time to join me.
‘I think we are a great team because our personalities balance each other out,’ she went on. ‘I couldn’t ask for a better partner.’
In fact, she hopes that their joint venture grows successful enough that her dad can retire from his current job as a welder.
‘Knowing how physically demanding my dad’s job can be, I want to ensure he has a comfortable retirement as early as possible,’ she said.
She also hopes to keep it in the family wants to hire her uncle as well.
‘I really hope to keep the business Latino-owned and in the family as possible as we grow,’ she said.