NEW YORK — As a young girl, Stacie Simmons wanted to work behind the makeup counter at Bloomingdale’s. Now, at 30 years old, she is among beauty’s newest entrepreneurs.
Simmons, a Long Island native, has launched Mybeautifulplace.com, an e-commerce site whose mission is to carry upscale, niche and hard-to-find cosmetics brands.
And while any start-up has its fair share of challenges, one could argue that Simmons faces an inordinate amount of adversity. She was diagnosed with separate neurological and systemic disorders beginning four years ago.
“I have an autoimmune disease where the body attacks itself,” causing tumors, she candidly explained from her apartment, which she has partially converted into a cosmetics warehouse. So far, no treatment has been found, despite chemotherapy, steroids and morphine patches, all of which have been a regular part of Simmons’ life recently.
Nevertheless, she has maintained the determination and energy to work long hours perfecting Mybeautifulplace.com. Two weeks ago at Shecky’s Beauty Night Out, a beauty expo, she was taped selling product and promoting the Web site by a Japanese TV crew.
Simmons was inspired to create a Web site a little more than a year ago. At the time, she was at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center here, where her sister delivered to her full cases of what she considered her “dream cosmetics.” Initially Simmons wanted to open a beauty shop. But because her oncologist advised against it, she instead opted for a virtual boutique.
Simmons teamed with Kathleen Capalla, a California-based graphic designer, to create the Web site — “clean, with a feminine touch” as Simmons describes it — that features pink and lavender motifs.
“Cosmetics have been a lifelong passion of mine,” said Simmons, who had a brief stint in sales at Directional, a furniture brand. “I’m a big Internet shopper and a big product person. I did not see what I wanted [in beauty] on the Internet, so I said, ‘I can do this.’”
From her apartment, she maintains storage areas for the 38 cosmetics, skin care, fragrance, bath and body care, home fragrance and cosmetics accessories brands carried on Mybeautifulplace.com. Among the brands on the site are more well-known names like Paula Dorf, Sundari and Peter Thomas Roth; indie brands like Joey New York and Three Custom Color Specialists, and lesser-knowns like Jing Jang, Terra Nova and Malie Kauai.
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She estimates Mybeautifulplace.com could do sales of between $500,000 and $1 million during its first year.
“I want to bring in a new line every five to six months to keep people coming back to the site,” said Simmons. Some of the brands she plans to launch down the road include Red Flower, Aromafloria, Sue Devitt and Jo Malone.
In addition to e-commerce functions, Mybeautifulplace.com features editorial content. Columns by the likes of Kimberly Sayer, founder of the Kimberly Sayer of London skin care line; Brian Duprey, creator of Duprey Cosmetics, and Galit Strugano, who founded Girlactik Beauty, a line of color cosmetics, can be found on the site — as can those three brands. Additionally, when a link to a particular brand is clicked, an introductory page pops up displaying the latest editorial features on that brand.
Simmons has also created charity tie-ins for Mybeautifulplace.com. Working with Three Custom Color Specialists, she designated a pink lip gloss shade called Stacie’s Passion, from which sale proceeds go to the National Kidney Foundation and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
That’s because the life of Simmons’ grandmother was taken by an acute form of kidney failure, called hemolytic uremic syndrome, at the age of 58. And, Simmons’ mother is a breast cancer survivor.