Your People | KéNisha Ruff of Marie Hunter Beauty
KéNisha Ruff, creative director and founder of Marie Hunter Beauty is trailblazing startup story success with a passion for highlighting womxn in more ways that one. Hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, this boss ass bootstrapper not only started Marie Hunter Beauty, but did it without a single loan or investment, and all while creating a space for womxn to feel empowered inside + out. For the startup and beauty babes out there, buckle up and get into this exclusive with this inspiring woman. It’s tea time, honey.
Hey, KéNisha. You’re the Creative Director and Founder of Marie Hunter Beauty. How did you got your start in the beauty industry?
I began my beauty career as a licensed cosmetologist in Madison, Wisconsin. My passion for skincare and cosmetics led me through a professional journey in retail cosmetics, then to high-end salons and spas, and now to my current role as a Professional Makeup Artist and Creative Director of Marie Hunter Beauty.
That’s incredible. What would you say motivates you most?
If there’s one thing that wakes us up every morning, it’s the belief that beauty should be simple and not complicated. My mission is to boldly empower women with the beauty, confidence, and class to feel like the best version of themselves on the inside and outside. For me at Marie Hunter Beauty, that’s where real beauty begins. Our iconic packaging and statement-making modern collections are designed to help women discover and walk in that reflection.
Love that. With what we can imagine is a highly competitive field, how have you carved out such a strong foothold in the industry?
I'm an expert in the entire process of cosmetics formulation - from product development to package design. My experience as a Professional Makeup Artist (I received my cosmetology licensing from Aveda Institute) and background in product formulation and packaging design from the Fashion Institute of Technology helps me stay ahead of the curve when it comes to discovering new ways of pushing the envelope of innovation in the clean beauty industry.
That sounds like a perfect marriage of experiences and expertise, tbh. Can you tell us about some of the challenges you’ve faced as a startup? Any advice you’d give to others on a similar path?
I view challenges as opportunities, it reminds me to always remember my “why”. Why I started Marie Hunter Beauty and why I want to continue empowering women. My biggest challenge has been being a 100% bootstrapped company. I haven’t taken on any investors and have no loans. Organically growing my company requires a lot of commitment, dedication, and hard work. My advice for any entrepreneur in my situation would be to determine your why, outsource your weaknesses if you can afford to and stay the course! Dreams don’t work unless you do!
First, that’s incredible. We love a good bootstrap story. Secondly, could not agree more. Your “why” is definitely where it’s at. What do you think holds back womxn the most in small businesses/startups?
One of the biggest things that hold women back in my field is funding. It’s easy to start a beauty business, but maintaining the business requires a lot of capital and connections. I believe that this can be remedied by our customers supporting our indie brands by showing their love for small brands via social media, and by word of mouth through their friends, family, and network. This helps to organically spread the word about smaller businesses such as Marie Hunter Beauty.
Anyone in the beauty world or otherwise you’re currently obsessed with?
Rihanna without a doubt! I’ve been a longtime fan since her debut many years ago but with her recent launch of Fenty Beauty and becoming the first black woman to start a fashion line with LVMH really has me inspired! Her unique and innovative approach is raising the bar for the beauty and fashion industry and you can’t help but take notice.
HONESTLY THO. We stan Rhianna and have nothing but respect for our president. Queen Rhi Rhi 2020.