CEO Insider

On Becoming A 16-Year Old CEO

Some may wonder why I started a business rather than taking the traditional route of a teenager, and that’s because I saw that it brought many more opportunities at an early age.

I was homeschooled early on because I am dyslexic and have amblyopia, which means I am legally blind in my left eye. Since I had trouble reading, I turned to watching YouTube videos instead of books and magazines. YouTube became a very valuable tool for me, so at age 11, I created a YouTube channel of my own and quickly amassed a fan base of over 970k subscribers. I fell into being a social influencer and entrepreneur simply by following my interests and doing things I love. Being real, happy, and inspired is what my YouTube channel is all about, because that’s what I’m all about.

Working with visual media came naturally to me. I loved editing and producing my own videos and working hard behind the camera. I even took an interest in acting and after finding an agent in LA, I began hosting several Disney shows, and working as an actor in television commercials.

My channel is focused on everything that I love which includes all things makeup. Makeup has always mesmerized me, and my obsession has only grown over the years. It has become another form of art for me.

I was inspired to create Frilliance at age 13, when I started struggling with skin issues and makeup. I suffered from acne and found that there are so many ingredients in makeup that cause acne and skin issues. My followers expressed similar concerns, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and created a line that puts an emphasis on you, not your makeup.

I set out to make products that I would want as a teen battling acne. My makeup line was created for what I like to call “teen-prone” skin – a kinder way to say, “acne or pimple-prone skin.” All of our products are formulated with non-comedogenic ingredients that won’t clog pores and also fight acne with skincare makeup solutions. I didn’t settle for just any formulations because I wanted the best for our customers. I believe that makeup should be easy, affordable, and enjoyable, so my creative process is focused on plant-based sources, what works, and what heals and refreshes teen-prone skin.

There are many steps to launching a beauty product from scratch. It starts with product formulation, which involves many iterations to get to a final formula that I am proud to put my face on. Next is packaging and design, which involve sourcing and working with printers and designers— these are both fun and challenging at the same time. Then photography for your website and social media. Photography is key for a beauty brand. Last is coordinating the launch of the new product across all channels.

Since I built up a large following on my Instagram and YouTube channel before I launched Frilliance, I am able to use it daily as a tool to market my company and my personal brand. But, of course, there are always challenges when building a business, and since we are still considered a small brand, sourcing and producing the cosmetics can be difficult.  We are marketing to teens, but typically, the parents are the ones who have the credit card. This makes the transition to make purchases tough.

There are many advantages and disadvantages of being a beauty brand owner. You have full control of the brand image, and more importantly, the product formulation rather than just putting a name on a private label product that you have no real connection to. But a big disadvantage is that since your name is on the brand, you are not only responsible for the successes, but also the failures.

Being a 16-year-old CEO made it difficult to reach a balance between school, business, and being a teen. I found that the best way for me to manage my time was by focusing each morning on school and then targeting a specific task for the rest of the day. I will film a YouTube video one day, and the next day I will use it for Frilliance’s social media. Then, in the evenings, I make time to hang out with friends.

I have to credit Kylie Jenner and Kylie Cosmetics for being what has shaped and inspired me as an entrepreneur. Just seeing how much Kylie has accomplished by age 22 inspired me to keep building my business. My goal is to work and make Frilliance the number one clean beauty brand for teen skin. I also plan to find innovative ways to distribute and sell Frilliance that involve collaborating with teens.

I hope my story inspires other teens like myself to become business owners and build their own brand. To get started they should list out their passions and find different ways to mix and match ideas. For example, I took my love for makeup and crossed it with formulations specifically for teen skin. Additionally, it’s also imperative to find a good team that will support you when building your own brand — this can be friends, mentors, employees, etc.

If I had a chance to go back and do something differently, I don’t think that I would. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and I wouldn’t want to go back and change anything. But one thing that I have learned is that you should always keep trying and experimenting. You will find what works for you.

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Fiona Frills
Fiona Frills CEO of Frilliance, a clean beauty brand for teens. Since she had trouble reading early on, she turned to YouTube as a source of learning, and later used it as a platform to entertain her 970K subscribers! Fiona Frills is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on Youtube or connect on Instagram.