Zubda Khokhar is the CEO of The Surprise Beauty Box, a subscription based beauty box. Read our interview with her.
Esther : So Zubda, what inspired you to launch a subscription based beauty box?
Zubda : I want to start by thanking you for taking the time to interview, I am so grateful. To be honest, there isn’t only one thing that inspired me to launch my own box rather a culmination of things. I’ve always been obsessed with makeup ever since I was a little girl; I would break into my mom makeup drawers and play around with her makeup. Eventually I was able to get my own makeup kit when I was in the seventh grade and that’s where it all started.
After that, I would watch hours of Youtube videos on how to apply makeup and was obsessed with beauty and fashion. A year ago I was able to become a beauty advisor at a department store and I would give customers little makeovers and I LOVED it, I would always joke about how I would love to give makeover for the rest of my life. I realized a lot of people didn’t want to spend tons of money on products they had never tried before and since I was able to play with the makeup, I knew how great it was but not everyone had the same chances to use the makeup before buying it.
So that in culmination with my passion for makeup, I decided I was going to create my own sampler box. I’ve always been a huge advocate for helping women and I knew I wanted to do something that gave back so I teamed up with the Women’s Care Shelter of Pittsburgh and asked them how I could help them. They gave me a list of things they needed and I decided I was going to donate a percentage of my box sales to them and run food/toiletries drives for them! I just completed my first food drive and my second will be started on 7/22!
Esther: Tell us a little bit about The Surprise Beauty Box and why anyone should take this seriously.
Zubda : Originally I thought my age would be an obstacle when starting my beauty box but I realized it has only helped me: I’ve been able to relate to young people much more easily! A lot of major companies have realized this as well and they are eager to work with me. My box is up to the same standards as all other major boxes, I carry both high end brands and indie brands so I don’t see any issues as not being taken seriously.
I didn’t start my company to become the next millionaire, I started my company as a way help young people get into makeup while helping small businesses. I love the idea of supporting indie brands that make amazing products while pairing them with name brands. This allows customers to know they are getting a great range of products. I believe that through education, we can help break the cycle of poverty, I eventually want to start a scholarship aimed at young women in financial hardships, I want to make the world a better place and I’m using my company as a platform to do that.
What are your major setbacks presently?
The biggest hurdle I’ve seen is getting people to try my box, I know I offer great value, the standard boxes value at over $40 at least, but learning to effectively market my brand has been a learning curve.
Esther : How do you see competition? Does it make you shiver a little?
Zubda: I have a different mission than the current boxes that are offered so I don’t mind the competition. I know a lot about beaut, I’ve been following trends for a long time so I want to share my knowledge with others. All the products that I include in my box are products that I personally believe to be amazing and I want to share that. Supporting small businesses is a core value of mine, and I didn’t like how the major boxes don’t focus on that, I like how my box is different.
Esther : The market is a little bit competitive out there, are there any plans to build a brand that’ll stand out and be above the noise?
Zubda :Of course! I’ve started a blog recently that I plan to write for weekly, posts will range from beauty, fashion, and even some lifestyle posts. I want to know what my audience wants to hear about and I will write accordingly.
I am a fan of The Surprise Beauty Box and I must say here and now that you are doing a great job. Teaming up with organizations and companies to get them to sponsor some of your donations is a huge step, has this process posed any challenges? If they did, how did you get to convince them to work with you?
The donations have been the easiest part, 100% of the donations will be taken the WCS, I’ve been waiting to have enough donations that will entirely fill my SUV and then make a trip to the shelter. I believe there are other good people in this world that, they like what I am doing and I am so grateful for their support.
Esther :Where do you see TSSB in 5 years from now?
Zubda : There are SO many things I want to do with my brand, I’m working on increasing my subscribers for the beauty box and my blog and after that I will move on to other things. I would love to create an online magazine, start my own makeup line, and possibly a few years down, and start my own TSBB Beauty Convention!
How have you been able to strike a balance with school for now? Starting up something this cool can be a little bit challenging you know? Any co-worker(s) or team?
I’ve always been a hard worker and once I find something I’m passionate about, I don’t stop until I’m done. Even in the summer I’m taking 16 credits, working another job, and managing my company. This leaves for little free time and I’m busy all the time, but I love what I’m doing so I don’t view it as another job. I make sure to do everything efficiently, I’ve gotten a lot help from my parents, and they’ve taught me a lot!
Esther : What is your course of study in the University?
Zubda : Originally I was part of an early acceptance program with a local medical school, but I recently changed my career paths. I’m still finishing my degree in biology but I’m adding a business administration minor and an entrepreneurship certificate.
Your beauty boxes sell for only $15, shipping included, how have you made that possible, given that these boxes are worth well over $40?
Luckily, most beauty companies are familiar with beauty boxes; they understand that if a customer tries and likes their product, they are willing to purchase it. This has allowed me to work with a range of companies and distributors.
As of now, what brands do you currently have in your Surprise Beauty Box?
Estee Lauder, Lancome, Elizabeth Arden, Britney Spears, Amuse, Juicy Couture, Niffer’s All Naturals, QUA Organic Hair Care, Honey Kissed Cosmetics, Voodoo Herbals and many more
Esther : Starting up can be daunting, keeping up can be more daunting, what drives you still?
Zubda : It’s been almost a month, but I’ve a little bit of success and growth every day. Whether it’s more followers on my social media, companies sending me products to review, a new subscriber, words of encouragement, or even a local organization starting a toiletries/food drive, I’ve learned so much through starting TSBB. Each day is different and I’ve loved every bit of it.
Esther : Do you have any plans to team up with some other organizations? Any brand you are looking forward to get sponsorship from?
Zubda : I would love to team up with other blogs and online magazines to spread the word about what I’m doing. I feel like my company has allowed me to create a small community of people that all work together.
To be quite honest, I’m not really sure which brand I would like a sponsorship from, until yesterday I never realized I would be someone a company would even consider sponsoring but as long as I personally agree with their values, I would be open to trying new things.
You can find TSSB on Instagram @surprisebeautybox.