Grande Achievement

Humble beginnings, hard work and plenty of hustle helped Alicia Grande build a successful business. And she’s nowhere near done. —LINDA KOSSOFF

Grande Achievement

Alicia Grande is the very definition of a self-made woman. The founder and CEO of White Plains, New York-based Grande Cosmetics launched her career at the tender age of 16, manning a cosmetics booth at a local fl ea market. Two years later, she was running her own booth. “I enjoyed the whole face-to-face experience of selling,” Grande says. “Making people look more beautiful was just really inspiring to me.” Following college, the enterprising Grande landed a marketing job at an infomercial company in Long Island. It was the late ’90s, and an antiaging revolution was taking place. “My job was to scout new talent—beauty experts—to feature in radio infomercials,” she explains. “It was so much fun, learning about how to maintain beauty and health as we age.” Several years later, as marriage and plans of having children began to take center stage, Grande realized she’d have to make a change. “I decided I didn’t want to commute from Westchester on the Long Island Expressway every day—I just didn’t want that life,” she says. “So I took my skill set of media buying and started my own company, Grande Media. Working part time from home was a really good gig, and I was able to have my boys, Jake and Michael.” The new mother juggled work and childrearing this way for nine years, during which time she also hosted a weekly radio show on New York’s WBOX, interviewing health and beauty experts. “And that was really how I founded Grande Cosmetics,” she relates. “I was at the International Cosmetics & Spa Conference (ICSC) trade show at the Jacob Javits Center in 2008, scouting for new people to talk to for my radio show, and I found this doctor who had created a product he claimed could make lashes grow longer and thicker.” Grande was skeptical, but gave the product a try herself. “And I thought, ‘Oh my god, this works!’ My husband noticed, my friends noticed— people thought I had extensions on! This was my ‘aha’ moment.” Harnessing the product development know-how she’d gleaned from the infomercial business, Grande had a lash formula worked up that would bear her name. “I mean, how perfect was the name ‘Grande’ for this?” she laughs. New product in hand, Grande bought a booth at ICSC the following year. “With no investors, I’d applied the last of the Grande Media money for this,” she says. “I had my little Vistaprint roll-up banner and women friends who believed in me, and we went up against some powerhouse companies.” By the end of the show, Grande had sold out of product. Thrilled, she called her husband to share the amazing news. “And he said, ‘That’s really great because I just got fi red,’” she recalls. “And at once I realized, ‘OK, I need to make money for this family.’ So I went about duplicating my trade show experience at every hair, makeup and spa show that I could.” Grande had come full circle, hustling and selling her heart out, from the booth. At the three-year mark, Grande Cosmetics began to thrive. Since then Grande has built on that success, investing in advertising and expanding her line to include more lash products, brows, tools and lip care. (The company’s newest offering, a collection of six nude lip colors, just hit shelves this month.) “We’re cosmetics with a function,” she notes, citing the use of results-oriented ingredients such as marine peptides and hyaluronic acid in her formulas. The company is even investing in evidence-based studies to back up its claims. “The one we just got back on GrandeLash is phenomenal, and we’re doing them for brows, lip plumper, mascara and lash primer. Now that I’m in this bigger place, I have to be able to compete in a bigger way.”

“I create relationships with the people on my team. They say you’re not supposed to cross that line and I guess sometimes I do, but I really need to be connected to the people I work with. It’s important that people like each other and enjoy working here.” —Alicia Grande



More in Brands