NEW YORK — In an industry with hundreds of lines, thousands of products and countless failures, it’s a wonder why anyone would want to enter the cosmetics business. Yet Ony Powers, a former model turned makeup artist turned mother, confidently launched her own line, Ony, in April.
This story first appeared in the August 8, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Having graduated from the University
of Michigan, Powers moved to Chicago and modeled for a local agency. During this time, the makeup-artist position fell into her lap. Numerous times, the makeup artists who worked on Powers did not have the right
colors to match her African-American complexion. She began to bring in her own makeup and applied it to herself, following the techniques of professional makeup artists she had watched. When Powers moved to Nashville in 1995, her modeling career soon turned into one as a makeup artist. Throughout her time in Nashville, Powers researched makeup periodically and at the beginning of this year she visited several manufacturers, saw what worked and created Ony.
The line includes lip gloss, a lip lacquer brush, lip pencil, bag, mirror and pencil sharpener. The focus right now is on the lip gloss, priced at $14. Powers’ goal is for the lip gloss to suit every woman, ranging from blonde and fair to brunette and dark, which is why she is taking her time before developing other products.
Her biggest fear is that people will go home and put her makeup in a drawer with things they never use because they won’t know what to do with it. “I want products that really make sense,” Powers said. She feels her position as a model, makeup artist and mother gives her insight to what women truly want: useful makeup. This is why Powers chooses everything from the colors to the styles of her products. Everything is made to be convenient, like the lip gloss tube, which for makeup artists, proves to be more sanitary than a stick.
As for the future, Powers will go beyond the mouth. In the fall, she wants to launch an eyebrow kit, mascara and gel blush. Her goal is to create products that make the face look great without using lots of makeup. Eventually, Powers hopes to venture into skin care.
For now, Ony is riding on the success of its lip gloss. With about 1,500 glosses sold, carried only
in four Nashville stores and on her Web site,
onyinc.com, Powers can concentrate on being hands-on by making personal appearances and teaching people how to use her products. By year’s end, she expects sales to reach between $500,000 to $1 million.