A university alumna started a business selling handmade lipsticks in August 2016, and business is booming after just over a year and a half of operation.
Jordan Penix, who graduated from Capital in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance, opened The Tart Peach, her handmade lipstick business, just after graduation. Penix operates her business through a website called Etsy, which is a site specifically for small businesses that sell handmade items.
The idea for the business started with a birthday gift from her boyfriend — a make-your-own lip balm kit.
“We started mixing, melting and experimenting that night,” Penix said in a blog post. “With my general love of lipstick, a lot of trial and error, and support from my family and David [her boyfriend], The Tart Peach Lipstick has grown into a dope side hustle.”
Because she wears lipstick and lip balm so often, she thought it would be fun to try to make her own. She looked at the ingredients of popular, name-brand lipsticks and decided it would be worth a try. After seeing Penix wear them, family and friends wanted to try them out as well. She started making them for family and friends and finally began selling them online the August after graduation.
The lipsticks are cruelty-free and made of a blend of natural ingredients such as beeswax, castor seed oil and FDA approved dyes. Penix says it has been important to her since the beginning that her lipsticks be handmade with under 20 ingredients so buyers can “know what they’re putting on their face.”
While her family sometimes helps her package and ship lipsticks, Penix does all of the mixing and molding herself. Sometimes making color and texture consistent is hard because she doesn’t have the machines that large cosmetic companies do, and her measurements can’t be 100 percent exact. She does swatch tests with each batch to ensure accuracy of color and texture.
The journey of choosing colors for her products started with neutrals and eventually branched out to oranges, blues and purples.
“[The colors] kind of got progressively more ‘weird,’” Penix said.
Although it’s hard for her to pick a favorite, Penix says the color she wears the most from her line is Original Red, a deep red-orange.
Penix chose the name The Tart Peach because it was the name of a blog she created when she started college at Capital.
“I wanted my family to keep up to date on my doings, my happenings and my travels, so it was mostly just a fun blog,” Penix said. “Then I started making lipstick and I was like, ‘maybe I could blend the two?’”
She chose the blog name simply because she liked it and thought it sounded good, but she did come up with a backstory for the name, which she outlines in her blog.
“It was mostly just a random pick of words that sounded cool,” Penix said.
Although the shop started out as just lipstick and lip balm, the line also includes lip glosses and scrubs. Penix says she doesn’t think she will venture into making other cosmetics because she doesn’t really wear anything else. She’s content with being the lipstick gal.
In just over a year and a half, Penix has had almost 400 online sales. She also sells her products at craft shows and sells wholesale to businesses in Utah, California and a few in Ohio. She says she would love to grow her business into a small shop, but she doesn’t want to get too big to hand-make her products.
Penix also works full time at Nordstrom as a salesperson and sometimes does gigs with her boyfriend who is a fellow Capital alum and jazz pianist.
After our interview, Penix gave me a lipstick to try out. I chose the color Rusty Maroon, a nude with a pink undertone. Just as her reviews on Etsy say, the lipstick is creamy, comfortable and doesn’t feel drying. The color is beautiful and, although it does fade throughout the day, it isn’t blotchy. This color left behind a light pink stain that made it look as if I was still wearing something on my lips.
If you’d like to try Penix’s products or visit her blog, her website is thetartpeach.com.