During the first shutdown of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, one App State senior was looking for something to pass the time and earn extra income.
“I needed some Carmex at the time I was thinking about it,” Zalaya Hinton said. “I needed something on my lips at the moment, and I thought, ‘Oh, I could make a lip gloss!”
She spent quarantine and her summer creating a business plan, testing ingredients and buying supplies. On Nov. 11, 2020, LayShydae Cosmetics LLC launched.
“Before I started LayShydae, I never wore lip gloss,” Hinton said. “I was a Carmex girl.”
Now, her company sells lip sugar scrubs, eyelash and brow growth oil, and lip gloss squeeze tubes and twist pens. Hinton releases seasonal lines for her products, such as a strawberry lemonade gloss for the summer.
Her favorite product is the lip gloss Bare W/ Me. It’s a clear, everyday gloss with coconut flavoring.
“Bare W/Me was the closest thing to Carmex or Vaseline that I didn’t have to worry about being too glossy or having glitter in,” Hinton said.
All the lip glosses contain vitamin E and jojoba oil. The gloss base ingredients are vegan as well as gluten and cruelty free. Hinton makes all her products with organic and raw ingredients.
Hinton shows off some of her cosmetics at Appalachian Heights Jan. 24, 2022. She encourages other Black students to be their own “boss babe” and take risks in starting a new business. (Xanayra Marin-Lopez)
She recommends pairing her lip glosses with a lip scrub, another product she sells. Hinton advises using her sugar scrubs in a circular motion, exfoliating the lips for about five minutes. After rinsing the scrub off, she says to apply a lip gloss to moisturize.
LayShydae Cosmetics delivers in the United States and offers free on-campus pickups to App State students. She’s held pickup pop-up shops on campus for customers to collect their orders.
Hinton makes all the products herself. For lip gloss, the bases and ingredients combine, and flavoring is added last. They’re filled into plastic syringes and squeezed into the tubes.
For the sugar scrubs, Hinton starts with the sugar and adds in oils, color pigments and flavors. Flavor options include melon, grape, “tutti frutti” and more. The growth oil is a combination of different oils she’s used over the years that she believes promote hair growth.
Being one of the few Black business owners in Boone and one of the few Black women in cosmetics in the High Country, Hinton said she holds herself to a much higher standard.
“I’m the face of my business,” Hinton said. “So I have to make sure that wherever I go, I represent my business and make sure I am at my best fit. Being an African American woman, I’m already being looked at times 10.”
Hinton describes herself as a “one-man-band.” She is a full-time student, a sister of the Mu Omicron chapter of Zeta Phi Beta and more, all while being a business owner. Though balancing it all, she still encourages others to go for it.
“I’m always trying to encourage other people, other African Americans, to start a business,” Hinton said. “That helps our community come out more, stand out more. At Boone and a predominately white institution, we already are a little stuck in the corner a bit.”
Hinton has three pieces of advice for aspiring business owners.
Exercise science major Zalaya Hinton displays some of her products on a common area table at Appalachian Heights Jan. 24, 2022. Hinton combines her handmade lip scrubs and lip glosses for moisturizing lips. (Xanayra Marin-Lopez)
First, she said to “take your time.” When Hinton first thought about starting LayShydae Cosmetics, she was ready to put out all her products in one release. For Hinton, every product is a reflection of her name and herself. She wants new entrepreneurs to be intentional about every item.
Second, Hinton said don’t be afraid to take risks. She’s experienced big investment moments and times where she has lost money. At the end of the day, Hinton encourages anyone to “build their empire.”
Third, have fun. For Hinton, individuality was a big part of starting her business. All her products, creative decisions and business materials are made by her.
“With my business and my page, I’m always trying to show people beauty is what you make of it,” Hinton said. “The only way to be you is by embracing your physical appearance. I want people to think, ‘This is a product I can use to make me feel comfortable in my body.’”