2020 was a year like no other. It was a year that I began by traveling to Mexico, a year I burned old bridges, a year that I ditched toxic relationships, and a year that I excelled in college after struggling for a long time. Overall, I anticipated that I would remember 2020 as one of my best years. But all of this changed in March of 2020 when the world shut down. It has been a tough 10 months for everyone around the world. In particular, I feel for the thousands of small businesses that have suffered throughout the year — the ones whose owners had hopes and dreams that this would be the year that the world would hear about them. 45% of small businesses have accepted that their revenues are less than 50% of what they were pre-COVID. Because so many small businesses are struggling to make ends meet, I partnered with 10 of them to bring awareness to the amazing journeys of the talented people that are revolutionizing their fields and stayed strong throughout 2020!
- Clutch Nails
Clutch Press-On Nails was founded by exceptionally talented Alexandra Tonks. Alexandra studied at UC Berkeley, cofounded a social app, worked as a professional makeup artist, a summer marketing intern, a PINK campus rep, and a brand ambassador, and was a sorority sister all at once — she was the queen of all hearts! But even while doing it all, while out on a date, her date pointed out to her that her nails weren't done.
With everything she was doing, she barely had enough time to even go on a date, let alone get her nails done beforehand. Admit it, nails salons are expensive, time-consuming, chemical filled places that usually do not leave you satisfied with the outcome. Her bad date was a blessing in disguise because it brought her the idea of creating press on nails.
Clutch Nails use the highest quality material and top-of-the-line design (designed by Alex herself!) They look just as good if not better than regular manicures and are only a fraction of the cost.
Her vision is to liberate women from the hours spent at the nail salon and the debilitating nature of acrylic nails. Clutch Nails is the embodiment of Alexandra's commitment to creating high value, trustworthy products that women love!
Getting your nails done has never been this easier! I received THREE nail sets: the pink ombré, the greek goddess, and the wild child — they were gorgeous! You can shop all the 2020 Bestsellers starting at $10 at https://clutchnails.com/ Use the discount code “CLUTCH15” at checkout!
- OWA Haircare
OWA Hair was created by Kailey Bradt, who graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, an M.S. in Product Development, and is also a Sephora Accelerate 2020 Awardee. After coming to the realization that hair care products took up too much space in her travel bags, she decided to make her own sustainable, travel-friendly shampoo.
Moondust Hair Wash is the world’s first liquid-less shampoo, which minimizes the carbon footprint that manufacturing/shipping plants leave behind. Kailey elevated every aspect of making this shampoo come alive with compostable packaging, TSA approval, and two ounce bottles that contain as much powder to lather shampoo as four standard sized bottles.
The name Moondust speaks for itself. It had to be named after the moon, because nothing on Earth could ever compare to it. With Moondust you can travel with clean, vegan, cruelty, paraben, sulfate, and fragrance free shampoo that can fit right in your purse! I have long, black, voluminous hair, and after one use of this amazing product, my hair felt stronger and silkier.
You can own a piece of this out of this world Moondust Collection Hair Wash for $29 here: https://owahaircare.com/
- Mistake Erase
If you're like me, then eyeliner is your favorite part of your makeup routine. However, it can be tricky to perfect. Mistake Erase was a match made in heaven for me because even after years of wearing eyeliner, I still struggle to make both lines look even!
Mistake Erase Eyeliner and Corrector is brought to you by an all-female team of beauty enthusiasts. Their goal was to eliminate the intimidation that accompanies liquid eyeliner and make liquid liner looks achievable for anyone. Whether you’re a professional makeup artist or completely new to liquid eyeliner, Mistake Erase is the tool you’ll need to achieve the perfect wing every time.
On one end is the eyliner that goes on smoothly and neatly, and on the other is the makeup remover tip that allows you to remove the messed up eyeliner easily and quickly without messing up foundation, concealer, or eyeshadow underneath.
Even though Mistake Erase is a dual-ended pen, its founders also thought about the affordability of the product. This amazing pen is available for only $15 on amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Mistake-Erase-Liquid-Eyeliner-Corrector/dp/B072DX13WC) When in doubt, wing it out!
I was sent the Mistake Erase eyeliner + corrector along with two Florapy detox/stress relieve masks that are vegan, paraben, synthetic fragrance, and cruelty free! I had a chance to use the mask, and it left my face feeling hydrated and glowing! You can shop Florapy Beauty masks for as little as $7 at https://www.amazon.com/stores/page/51F30BE5-E0F5-4F38-8CD2-0FB8C2D137C4?ingress=2&visitId=e7cf1fde-0e34-40cc-87f1-2b9e03a939e6&ref_=bl_dp_s_web_2592005011
- Jeneration Jewelery
Jeneration Jewelry is one of my personal favorites in this list because it was created by a full time college student, just like me!
This beautiful company was started by Jenny Wu, an undergraduate senior majoring in sociology. During the pandemic, Jenny decided to bring back her childhood passion for jewelry making. Being an unemployed full-time college student posed a challenge for Jenny, but she was passionate about creating a brand that everyone would love.
At first, Jenny would make friendship bracelets in school or sell the small pieces she created. She later realized that there may be people that want affordable yet chic jewelry pieces, and that she could be the one to create them! Jenny was kind enough to send me some of her beautiful creations, and they emulated who I am in the best way. Jenny created this brand to be the next generation of trinkets that are meant to express all styles for all individuals.
You can own beautiful accessories, keychains, anklets, bracelets, earrings, rings, and so much more starting at just $4 at https://jenerationjewelry.com/
Hello! Huppy to meet you! This innovative toothpaste tablet company was started by David Phan and Cathy Tran. I had the honor of speaking to these two genius cofounders on a Zoom call, and let me tell you — I have never loved talking about the environment more!
David and Cathy were overwhelmed with the 100 hours they were putting into their work every week without feeling any sense of accomplishment or fulfillment in return. The idea of Huppy came to them when they travelled back to their home country of Vietnam, where they noticed the increasing reliability on plastic.
20 billion non-recyclable, non-biodegradable toothpaste tubes are made every year. That’s why Huppy is here: to make way for more sustainable smiles.
They wanted to target an aspect of the averages person’s life that is filled with plastic, and what better than toothpaste? Most of us wake up and brush our teeth, and go to bed after doing the same. However, this twice-a-day habit can be harmful to the environment. For this reason, they set out to make an environmentally friendly toothpaste that contained the cleanest ingredients.
Making tooth tablets isn’t easy, especially ones that are natural, vegan, cruelty-free, non-GMO, cavity and plaque fighting, naturally whitening, and minty fresh! Yes, Huppy has all these qualities! They have gone and above and beyond with tooth tabs that come with compostable pouches, a forever aluminum case to keep them in, and carbon neutral packaging — even their shipping label is compostable!
I had the chance to use the charcoal tooth tablets, and although I was hesitant at first, after just one brush my mouth felt minty fresh and my teeth gleamed! You can make your smile bright and sustainable for just $8 at https://huppy.com/
Maskeraide is the perfect play on words for what this wonderful company is — fun focused, serious skincare that will leave your skin feeling clean, hydrated, and glowing!
Maskeraide was founded by Michelle Lee in 2012, when she had the idea of bringing Korean skincare products to North America. She saw a lack of sheet masks in Canada and couldn’t resist in being the pioneer of bringing masks that could help solve all your skincare problems and leave your skin glowing!
I asked Michelle how her brand was different than other face mask brands on the markets and her answer really gave me an idea of her vision. She said, “Instead of focusing on ingredients and claims (as many skincare products do,) Maskeraide has always focused on the lifestyle aspect. For example: are you getting ready to go out and your skin needs a glow? Use our brightening Pre Party Prep mask! Do you need a helpful way to relax before going to sleep? Use our lavender oil Beauty Rest'ore mask!”
What’s even more incredible is that Michelle received funding from the Government of Canada, through their Female Entrepreneurship program, because of the value she would be bringing to the skincare industry in all of North America! So for you all boss babes who are wanting to start a small business, this ones for you. Believe in yourself!
All of Maskeraide's products are fun, affordable, and effective! This company is definitely one of my favorites on this list, because they took the time to pick out products for my skin. They sent me the detox diva mask, matcha detoxifying clay mask, pineapple brightening jelly mask, and the spotted anti-blemish patches for my acne-prone skin. My skin was thanking me and asking me for more!
- Halo Hands
Halo Hands is a wonderful company that was started by Jennifer Barron & Donna Budman after they noticed a large gap in the market for a consistent, premium nail-salon experience.
They started out by building the "Drybar" of nail salons, running pop-up salons that were co-branded with various San Francisco female-focused brands. After a year of testing their salon concept, they found out about the cheap, harmful toxins that go into regular nail polish.
And thus, Halo Hand was born! Halo means they are open, transparent, and non-harmful to their customers in every aspect. Halo Hand is free of the harmful chemicals found in typical nail polish and is cruelty-free and vegan. Plus, all colors are truly pigmented to the shade you expect – they don't compensate with white or black undertones for filler, it's all color all the time. No surprises!
While Halo Hands is a bit more expensive than a drugstore bottle of polish, they’ve made kits that come complete with everything you need for a quality at home manicure. Their standard kits include four non-toxic polishes, a non-toxic top & base coat, a two ounce soy-based nail polish remover, a travel pouch, and mani extras for prepping your nails!
YOU deserve a self care day with the cleanest nail polish, and the complete at home manicure experience! Take the color quiz here: https://www.halo-hand.com/.
Bootaybag is the modern day passion project founded by Ellyette Gheno that was created to fix the lack of affordability and convenience in the women’s underwear shopping process. After shopping the semi-annual sales with the overbearing sales clerks and mislabeled size bins, she thought she could begin the change.
BootayBag was fully bootstrapped up until their recent feature on Season 12 of Shark Tank and now proudly boasts the amazing Kendra Scott as an investor!
BootayBag offers a flexible, monthly subscription that delivers affordable, stylish, and comfortable underwear to your doorstep once a month. It's a no commitment subscription that won't break the bank! They have built and grown an online community and they use their social platform to promote positive body image and create a safe space for women.
Best of all, BootayBag is a philanthropic based company that takes the time to work with Fair Trade Certified factories and donate thousands of pairs of underwear to women in need.
Elly was kind enough to send me three pairs of gorgeous underwear and the softest dark blue satin bralette. You can start your subscription on their website: https://bootaybag.com/
Do you ever wish you had a Gucci scrunchi to match that Gucci belt you’re flaunting? This amazing brand was created by Lanika Clarke and it gives me the vintage and designer feels that will add just the right touch to your accessories.
Lanika has always had a passion for bringing her creative ideas to life. She desired healthier and stronger hair and came up with the idea to create an accessory that would look good while keeping your hair long and strong. She has a variety of design patterns available including Versace, Dior, and Louis Vuitton — and she makes them in silk!
Aside from looking shiny and modern, the silk also protects the hair. It cuts down on the friction and tension that's associated with traditional elastic hair ties. As a result, these scrunchies are gentle to use on dry, damaged, or weak hair and will help to reduce breakage.
$5 is a very small price to pay to help you achieve that trendy yet chic "fashionista" look, so go get yours at https://www.scrunchopia.com/.
This adorable business that makes BOBA keychains was started by one of my amazing friends, Jessica Truong. She is a marketing & information systems major at California State University, Long Beach. While being a full time student, she decided to be crafty and sell keychains!
The name BoutiqueDeMai came about because her middle name is "May" and she also took French for several years; she wanted to incorporate this into a name that would also be aesthetically pleasing. That is how BoutiqueDeMai (which translates to May's Boutique,) came into existence!
At first, Jessica didn't have anything that made her stand out in the market because many Etsy sellers were selling similar resin keychains. She then had the idea to engrave Spotify codes into her keychains, though the other Etsy sellers had the same idea. However, what made her stand out was her process: she encased the code in glittery resin, while others painted or engraved theirs. Another unique thing that made her stand out to me are her boba keychains! Unlike other sellers who buy them pre-made, she takes the time to handmake each keychain. These boba key chains broke the internet on TikTok, and since then she has been completely sold out.
I love this small business so much and urge you to check out her unique keychains and earrings here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BoutiqueDeMai
This is an incredible list that features brands that are truly revolutionizing their fields. I am so happy that I got to talk with the creators and test out the products. I wouldn't think twice about recommending these to readers like you!