Meet the Maker: Valerie Smith of Klei Beauty

Chloe Tate

If you’re a fan of minimalism, clean beauty, and gorgeous design, then you’re going to love Klei Beauty.  Founder Valerie Smith recently sat down with us to discuss why setting yourself apart is essential, and how she learned the hard lesson that not every opportunity is an ideal fit.  Welcome, Valerie!

Valerie Smith of Klei Beauty

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LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?

Valerie: I was working in the fashion industry, feeling stuck and uninspired. I’ve always had a passion for DIY self-care projects, so I started to create Klei while working full-time. A year and a half later, it’s my full-time job and I couldn’t be happier.

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Valerie: Klei is a line of self-care products, designed to be fun and customizable. The line currently includes a few clay masks and cleansers, bath soaks, floral facial steams, and facial oils.

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Valerie: I’m currently carried in 50+ boutiques nationwide, and sell products on my website.

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LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Valerie: I first thought that every product needed to be made and packed by me. I’m now learning just how much that hinders growth, so I will partner with a factory in Michigan to mix and pack all of my clay products.

LBC: Walk us through a typical workday

Valerie: I like to start my day by making some coffee and sitting at my desk to review emails and create a task list for the day. As a small business, it’s important that I constantly work to reprioritize tasks, as every day is different. After answering emails, I’ll get started on packing orders and restocking inventory as needed. I’ll then work through my to-do list, with a few breaks to take my pup Billie outside, until it’s time to go home.

LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

1. Start small, and don’t be discouraged by not having what you think is enough money to fund your business. Not having much to put into Klei is what really forced me to plan ahead and think about what was worth investing in, and what wasn’t.

2. Trust your vision and process, but be open to change. The beauty of having a small business is being able to constantly improve and change how you do things, in order to keep up with what you’re learning about your industry.

3. Don’t be afraid to say no to proposed opportunities. Not every opportunity is worth your time or money, no matter how much someone tries to sell it to you.


LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Valerie: Starting your own business is really scary, but in the most exciting way. When I start to doubt myself, I think of how far I’ve come in less than 2 years, and that I’m fully self-employed because of my own choices and decisions.

LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.

Valerie: Investing in new branding. Setting yourself apart in the beauty industry is hard, and I’m really excited to launch a new look for Klei soon.

LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?

Valerie: I tend to say no to opportunities that I believe aren’t worth financial investment, but I don’t think the same about my time. After one recent disaster of an in-store experience, I’m learning to value my time as much as I do my finances.

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LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Valerie: 1. Instagram – Has led to so many amazing opportunities 2. Canva – Amazing for creating professional design templates 3. Shopify – This is the best e-comm platform, with the most amazing customer service.

LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Valerie: This is hard for me to answer, truthfully. I have a plan for 2019 (new branding, being carried by a large national retailer), but beyond that, it’s hard to say.

LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.

Valerie: Any of the Real Housewives shows.

LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?

Valerie: “Don’t yuck my yum” – Mary Murphy, my mom. Can be applied to my love for the Real Housewives franchise.

Thank you, Valerie, for sharing your talent with us. We’re looking forward to seeing your new look and all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!

About the Author

Chloe Tate

Once described as “relentlessly cheerful,” Chloe is a lover of all things colorful and practically every fruit known to man. She lives in Atlanta and divides her time between supporting Lucky Break clients, keeping shop at a local artisan market, and event planning for business conferences. She’s also working on the launch of her skincare line while finishing her degree in Organizational & Leadership Studies. True story: Chloe shares 50% of Lela’s DNA and is poised to inherit her obscenely large shoe collection.

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