Women-Owned Businesses in the Oculus
We are celebrating Women’s History Month at the World Trade Center. This month, we are highlighting women-owned businesses here on the WTC campus. According to the National Women’s Business Council, there are approximately 12 million women-owned businesses in the U.S.
The World Trade Center is a hub of innovation and enterprise, and is home to several women-owned businesses, both in the Oculus and in the office towers. Women-owned businesses play a vital role in the community and are making an impact in their respective industries. Figue Flora, Goldenbar, Maure, No Chewing Allowed and Pretty Well Beauty are women-owned businesses located here at the Oculus, just to name a few.
We stopped by Pretty Well Beauty, a clean beauty and wellness brand, and spoke with its founder, Jazmin Alvarez, and learned more about her business and learnings as a woman business owner.
1. Can you tell us about yourself?
“I grew up in NYC and was born in California. My background is in the fashion industry. I spent most of my career as a photo producer, so I was doing production for a lot of large brands, including our neighbors at Conde Nast, where I was an editor. I worked at Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and was also the producer and casting director behind the Fenty beauty launch back in 2017. Even though I mostly worked in fashion, I was always very interested in beauty, so I tried to make a segue into beauty, which was a bit more challenging than I thought it would be. I was on my own personal journey of discovering wellness and products that would be safer and natural for me and came into a lot of different roadblocks, such as transparency, education, and the need to find a place where I was seen and understood. It didn’t really exist in the way that I was hoping, so I decided to create it.”
2. How did you grow your brand to what it is today?
“I started my brand as an e-commerce site. I began by making a wish list of brands I wanted to reach out to – brands I had been using or admiring from afar, loving what they were doing and what they stood for. I reached out to them via email and introduced myself and told them what I was planning, and everyone was very supportive. I launched online with 12 brands, and in the last 4.5 years expanded and now have about 50 brands in total. I want to keep it as a very curated space with brands that are truly clean, non-toxic, and not just saying that they are, but also delivering in performance and efficacy. I have a checkmark system for the brands, and I don’t make any compromises. I make my decisions based on the best of the best, not just for the sake of selling something.”
3. How did you decide to open your first brick-and-mortar store here at WTC?
“I always wanted to open a store, but it was difficult to finance it. I am a self-funded business and don’t have any outside funders. My decision to open my store here was truly kismet – I was connected to the right person and there was availability here. Westfield [the Retail owner/operator at the Oculus] tries to help small businesses and make it feasible if it’s a business that aligns and is the right fit for the Shops at the Oculus. I hadn’t actively been pursuing a store since I didn’t have the funds, so I was just trying my best to make my online channels work. I opened this store on November 25th, on Black Friday. I was determined to open by Black Friday, and scrambled that week, but we got the doors open!”
4. Can you tell us a bit more about being a woman-founder – any challenges you faced?
“I started out just by myself but building anything takes other people. When you’re doing it by yourself, that’s hard because you can only do so much in a day. Financing is also a big challenge because I don’t have investors. I own 100% of my company, but that means I’m 100% responsible for its growth and success right now. The lack of people and capital is challenging for me - and most businesses. Someone recently told me that to build a successful company, you need three things: a great idea, a way to do the idea, and capital. If you don’t have all three, it’s going to be a challenge. Most people don’t have all three.”
5. What is your advice for other women who want to start and build a brand?
- “Get clear about who your audience is and who you’re serving. It can’t be just that you have a great idea that worked for your family and friends. That’s not a real audience, you need enough of an audience and point of differentiation from what’s already out in the market and that you’re really trying to solve a problem – a big problem.”
- “I’d also get clear on what kind of business you want to build too. Some people want to build businesses that are more lifestyle brands, and others are looking to build a business to get acquired by a larger company, so depending on what type of business you want to build, you’re going to have a different strategy for how you’re going to achieve it. There’s no right or wrong way, some people want to keep it in their family and be involved in the day-to-day others want to build it out to a place where it can be bought out.”
- “Do not be afraid to start. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Just start from where you’re at, put one foot in front of the other, and know nothing will ever be perfect on day one. Pretty Well Beauty has gone through a couple of branding exercises to get to where we are today. If you know your brand’s demand, your competitors, your differentiation, and it’s strong enough, then just start. Start small and build from there.”
- “Surround yourself with people you can learn from, [people who] give good advice, criticisms, and not just the cheerleaders.”
6. What are your current go-to products?
A few current favorites are Luna Nectar’s Neptune serum, Earth Tu Face’s face wash, Mango People’s multi-stick, Shaz & Kiks’ hair and scalp products and Anima Mundi’s high-vibrational foods.
To continue Women’s History Month celebrations, Sing for Hope will have a performance on International Women’s Day (March 8th), on the Oculus floor featuring the first all-female band to perform on campus.
We hope you’ll stop by the Sing for Hope performance and support the women-owned businesses on the campus all month (and beyond!).