Meredith Jurica is the founder/CEO of Makeup Junkie Bag. She was recently named by USA TODAY as “One of the Top 10 Travel Bags” with more than $10 million in sales and a breakout appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
It all started after making several bags for herself, and when MJ’s friends loved them she began to make bags as gifts for her friends and family. It didn’t take long for the cosmetic bag to become the hottest thing on the block-on lots of blocks. With her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in speech pathology, she didn’t feel qualified to start a business, not even a small one based in her home. But she loved her cosmetic bag so she became the founder, owner, and lead seamstress of Makeup Junkie Bags. She had a “baptism by fire” into the business world though when she was swindled and robbed of her designs (even though it was patented), the text on her website shamelessly pirated, and $100,000 of inventory was lost to Hurricane Harvey. Despite this setback, she still persevered, and her bags eventually brought in $1 million the first year.
The Makeup Junkie Bag’s magic – what sets it apart from every other travel makeup bag is that it lays flat, which allows easy and full access to all materials while eliminating the chances that the bag will fall over sending products everywhere.
Makeup Junkie Bags are handmade in Texas, sold in more than 2,000 stores nationwide, and come in more than 400 trendy styles and seven different sizes. Each of the bags is characterized by a signature brightly colored zipper, a suede tassel, and MJ hand-selects each designer fabric for each of the lines. From the trademark “Glam Stripe Bag” to the newer “Later Alligator,” Makeup Junkie Bags are on a constant quest to find the fabrics that reflect their customers’ lives. They are the company for the working woman, the loving (and often exhausted) mom, the grad student, and the social butterfly.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Meredith to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
Hi, I’m MJ, the founder, and CEO of Makeup Junkie Bags! Before starting my business, I was a Speech-Language Pathologist after obtaining my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the field. I departed from my job as a Speech-Language Pathologist to stay at home with my two young daughters. As an avid lover of makeup, I was tired of makeup bags not meeting my standards and decided to get crafty in my spare time. It turns out I was solving a problem many people were having. A few short years ago, starting with one simple sewing machine at my kitchen table, I made an adorable lay flat cosmetics bag in my kitchen for personal use. I loved how the design housed all my modern-day large cosmetic palettes. Then the fairytale happened and Makeup Junkie Bags was born. People took notice and wanted me to make them one.
Fast forward to five years later, a design patent, an appearance on Shark Tank, and a Good Morning America sales event – my sweet little project has turned into a national wholesale company. We make everything with love in Houston, Texas at my private facility. My company now has a retail website and wholesales to thousands of retailers nationwide. All of my bags are “Handmade in Texas,” and carry a lifetime guarantee. I have continued to expand my lines over the last three years to include handbags, cosmetics, apparel, and other accessories. As a true “makeup junkie”, I own tons of makeup. Modern-day cosmetics are so much different than the cosmetics that have been around for years. Now we see all these large artist pallets and full-sized brushes that are supposed to make us look like Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks (laughs). I was frustrated that no cosmetic bag company was keeping up with the storage of modern-day cosmetics. I had an upcoming trip and so in preparation for my travels, I went to the local craft store and purchased materials to make my own cosmetic bag that would house all of my things. I wanted it to pack flat, be leak-resistant, and open up down the middle so I could see everything. The design did exactly as I intended it to and I was so pleased. I mimicked the 12-inch size I had made for my makeup and made a larger one for my shower toiletries as well as smaller sizes to pack face creams, eye care, chargers, etc. I was excited to take them on my trip and never really knew it would turn into a business.
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
I am continuing to expand my line so be on the lookout for new products coming soon!
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
Instagram and Facebook.
How did your business stand out?
Word of mouth, going Live in our showroom, marketing and we do several markets throughout the year, which helps in reaching hundreds of people. Always smile, be kind, and have great customer service. I have a patent on my lay flat medial line zipper bags, so there are no others on the market like it.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Social Media and word of mouth.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
What Makeup Junkie Bag do I want to use for each outfit. There are so many to choose from, so it’s hard to pick just one.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
I was paying way too much for supplies until I was educated on how things are sold from retail price to wholesale to distributor to manufacturer.
What new business would you love to start?
I would love to own a little village of vacation rentals near the beach. It would be fun to be responsible for lots of families having fun vacations.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I can’t really think of anything I would do differently. My journey has helped me learn and grow so much and I am happy with where I am.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Fall down seven times, stand up eight.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
It is a lot of work to get started and nothing is ever easy but stay focused and don’t give up on your dreams.