You’ve heard the phrase “my cup runneth over.” Well the same can be said for most make-up zipper pouches. It’s a dilemma Christina Bellas decided to fix as she travelled around the Midwest designing uniforms for casinos.
That was her profession before she started her company, Make-Cup. She spent days in planes, trains and automobiles and found one of her biggest issues was how to carry her cosmetics.
Always wanting to look her best when meeting customers, she says she “had to freshen my makeup in the car and that was a struggle.” It was difficult to find what she needed in her overflowing make-up bag. So, she designed a compact, refillable cup that doesn’t run over like those zipper pouches. It has special compartments that hold all her brushes, powders, eye shadows, lipsticks, liners, lash products and put them all within easy reach.
“Make-Cup was my weekend job, but I knew it was what I wanted to do when I retired,” Bellas says. “When I was at the top of my game I decided to jump ship and follow my passion.”
She retired, took her package, used it as seed money and began the process of creating Make-Cup, an entrepreneurial business located in Macomb County. The Make-Cup includes a patented artist’s palette with swivel-out design that lets users customize and refill cosmetics, reducing plastic waste. It is made with durable, sanitary, earth-friendly materials that protect against melting and freezing.
“It is great for women on the go and great for travel,” Bellas says. “Everything is at your fingertips and all organized.”
Bellas did a year of discovery to find the right way to could grow the company organically and to find a Michigan manufacturer that could make the earth friendly cup made from vegetable oil.
“We are in the middle of testing so we can say 100 percent can be made of that material,” she says.
Creating a green product was essential, in fact, critical, Bellas says. She pointed to an article on Canada.com that says cosmetic packaging accounts for nearly half of the world’s landfill mass.
“The average woman uses four to six cosmetics daily,” she says. “Times that by three months (the average time a woman keeps a cosmetic), and that’s a lot of plastic waste.”
To deal with that, the cosmetics industry is working to offer more refillable products. The Make-Cup is refillable, which Bellas says will keep plastic out of landfills and reduce the cost of cosmetics. For example, a foundation costing $36 could cost $14 when refillable, she says.
“We want to be part of pushing the industry to create all refillable products,” she says.
Bellas is on the way. She found a company in Wixom that could make the tooling and a company in Mason to manufacture the Make-Cup.
“I’m from Romeo’ … I’m a metro Detroit girl,” she says. “I wanted our product to be built in Michigan, not in China. The right thing to do was to manufacture it here.”
She is plannning some pop-up stores to showcase her product.
The business recently received $25,000 in funding from the Innovation Fund Macomb Community College, powered by JPMorgan Chase & Co. That $2.7 million fund was set up to stimulate economic development and job growth among promising Detroit-area entrepreneurs and next-stage companies with high growth potential. It is supported by the Macomb Community College’s Strategic Fund and JPMorgan Chase, as part of the company’s $100 million commitment to Detroit’s economic recovery.
Make-Cup was one of six companies selected to receive funding from a field of 47 applicants. Bellas went through a two-stage process, pitching first to a screening committee. Chosen as one of the highest-rated companies, she then moved on to a selection committee comprised of business leaders with experience in management, finance law, manufacturing and technology, who made final award recommendations.
All companies receiving funding from the Innovation Fund are required to provide learning experiences for Macomb Community College students. They could learn a lot from Bellas, who is now living her dream, has experience and is creating a product she believes will solve a big problem for women and make her business successful.
“We manufacture in the USA. We believe in creating jobs and making way for progress in our hometowns. We use durable, sustainable, earth-friendly materials,” she says on her website. “We believe in good intentions. Beautiful things happen when your heart is in the right place.”
You can pre-order the Make-Cup for $50 on the company’s website.