In 2011, Cashmere Nicole Carillo from Indiana founded her cosmetics brand Beauty Bakerie. At that time she was a single mom on welfare struggling with breast cancer.
Today she runs a thriving company with $3 million investment from consumer-goods giant Unilever Ventures.
Teenage single mom
Since childhood, Nicole knew she wanted a creative business of her own.
But the dream got delayed as Nicole got pregnant at the age of 16. New mom had to live on welfare, wear donated coats and use food stamps.
Nicole recollects “standing in line during the winter, waiting for donated coats. Finding out that the food stamps office had lost my paperwork“.
She knew she had only two options – work as hard as possible or give up.
Nicole couldn’t accept giving up because of her baby daughter. At the age of 18, she went to college, then enrolled in a nursing school.
Next on her bucket list was opening a business.
The beginning of business and cancer
Beauty Bakerie began from nothing in 2011 when Cashmere was 27.
I had to stay committed to for at least 5 years. This was the first hurdle
Nicole was the only employee and performed all business tasks. The woman spent days and nights at her computer, conceptualizing names of the business and product line names, learning how to build a website, create ads and make photos of products with the use of cell phone.
“I’d told myself early on, however, that it was the thing that I had to stay committed to for at least 5 years. This was the first hurdle,” she said.
That was the year when Nicole learned she had cancerous lumps growing throughout both breasts. A double mastectomy was her only chance to stay alive.
She went through a surgery and continued working on Beauty Bakerie.
“I was in a state of fear. But I never stopped pushing for my brand”, the woman said.
The illness made Nicole think about what was in her lipsticks. Since that time the products have become vegan, non-toxic and cruelty-free.
At some point she wanted to step back and close the brand. The brand had few customers, no well-developed business network and no financial sustainability.
But I know that giving up is not an option
Nicole decided to switch the focus and use the brand as a breast cancer awareness tool. She started a crowdfunding campaign to share her story and raise funds to expand Beauty Bakerie.
In 2014 popular singer Beyonce Knowles learned Nicole’s story and told it to her fans.
At that time Nicole was going through a second breast surgery. Her cancer had returned.
“My surgery this past week was much harder than the first… and felt like death but I know that giving up is not an option,” she said.
After Beyonce featured her story, Nicole’s spirit raised but it did not draw much attention to Beauty Bakerie. It was the hardest recovery. She put all her efforts to promote the brand in Instagram but did not get any profit.
She was about to back down again.
Nicole recalls how she felt: “That’s it. I know I just spent $3,500 on a new website, and I’m not seeing any returns and maybe I should just quit”.
Then she remembered she gave herself a promise to develop the business for at least 5 years. She was doing it for four and a half. After a two-month break Nicole continued to run Instagram ads again.
This time, it worked.
Beauty Bakerie wins it
The brand started developing rapidly. She quit her job as a nurse and wanted to hire anyone else to help and build a team of like-minded persons.
With three of her friends hired, Cashmere Nicole continued to build and grow the company.
Each ‘no’ and circumstance outside of my control made me better
By the end of 2015 Beauty Bakerie’s revenue had reached $475,000.
“Our message is having the resources to help more people…making sure every person hired has a heart that considers others,” Cashmere says.
With the grit and determination of its CEO, Beauty Bakerie is expanding.
The San Diego-based company today has a team of 20 people, its revenue is $5.4 million this year and Unilever is its lead investor.
“Beauty Bakerie’s motto is to be ‘better, not bitter’ because of difficult events in my life,” Nicole says reflecting on the past.
“Each of these events created unbreakable character. Each ‘no’ and circumstance outside of my control made me better”.