We're kicking off our Q&A series with Amanda Johnson and KJ Miller, the co-founders of Mented Cosmetics, a makeup line for women of color. They launched with a beautiful line of lippies for brown girls and just dropped an eye shadow palette that is available for pre-order.
Undeterred by the lack of support women of color receive from venture dollars, KJ and Amanda set out to delight ladies who are still underserved by the beauty industry. In October of 2017, the duo secured $1M in venture capital becoming the 15th and 16th African-American women ever to do so, as reported by Forbes. You read that correctly.
Naturally, we were dying to know more about their routines. Read on for a glimpse into how KJ and Amanda get All Worked Up.
Where do you reside and what is your favorite local spot close to home?
I live in Harlem and this neighborhood has truly become my home. My favorite local spot is Ginny’s Supper Club. It’s a great place to unwind with a drink and some dancing on a Friday night. - AJ
I’ve been in Harlem since moving to New York in 2010 - it’s become home for me. My favorite spot, hands down, is Barawine. Best happy hour in the city! - KJ
It's breakfast time on a weekday, where are you and what are you eating?
I’m up early every morning to work out, and then I walk 20 blocks to work. Somehow in the midst of all that I usually forget to eat breakfast, but I’ve been trying to do a better job of grabbing at least a bar or something small on my way out the door. I always feel better when I eat in the morning - I’ve just got to remember to do it! - KJ
It's dinner time on a weekday, where are you and what are eating?
If we aren’t out with investors or networking over dinner, then I’m at home. I love a good canape and open bar, but there is nothing like a home cooked meal. Once I come home from the gym around 7:30pm, I like to find new ways to cook my favorite items. A pack of taco seasonings or some fresh herbs can take a dish a long way. -AJ
Tell us about your workwear style.
My startup work style is very different than my old corporate ways. I used to dress like others in my office; suits while in investment banking and high heels while in high fashion. Now I dress however I want. There are days when we don’t leave the office that I wear no makeup and a hoodie. There are other days when I want to put on some suede 4 inch pumps and strut around in a skirt. The luxury of a startup is choice. - AJ
One of the perks of running your own company is you get to where WHATEVER you want, all the time. In my former life as a consultant I was in business casual all the time, and I kind of hated feeling so confined. These days I’m almost always in jeans unless we’ve got an event that evening. If I want to take my look up a notch I amp up my makeup and throw on a heel once I get to the office. - KJ
Do you have a favorite workwear item that you can't live without? If so, please share!
I guess it’s gotta be my bookbag. You’ll never find me without it - I used to carry big purses all over the city and my back couldn’t take it anymore! So now my plain-jane no-brand grey bookbag is my best friend. I might upgrade it to something a bit more fancy at some point, but I’m all about functionality since I’m lugging my laptop everywhere I go. - KJ
You're about to give a big presentation/have a big meeting, what are you wearing:
We’ve had some big investor pitches or a press appearance where we’ve really had to think about what we wear. I love a good fitted patterned dress and high heels. - AJ
How do you prepare for said big presentation or meeting?
If it’s a big investor meeting, the prep definitely started months ago. I don’t like walking into situations without a solid game plan. The day of a big meeting I like to check back on LinkedIn and other online sources to make sure I know as much as possible about the person I’m meeting with, and I like to cultivate one or two non-work related items I can drop into the conversation to warm up the vibe a bit. And if it’s a REALLY big pitch, I of course have to play some Beyonce to get in the right headspace. (Who run the world? Girls.) - KJ
What constitutes a good day at work?
A good day at work is when there is productivity and laughter. Productivity can mean we think strategically about the big stuff and are still able to check the boxes on the details. I also love the work culture we’re creating. We want everyone to bring their whole self to work and that for me involves laughter. -AJ
How do you unwind and turn work off?
These days I’m all about self-care. I have a charcoal mask routine I do every week, and I’ve gotten really into my nightly skincare routine as well. I also try really hard to make it home for dinner every night with my husband - that’s my ultimate unwind time. If I wanted to I could work all day, so having this structured “off” time with him helps me get out of my head for a while and recharge. - KJ
What is your favorite thing to allocate time to outside of “the office?”
Outside of the office I love to explore. I could be in a museum, walking around a neighborhood, trying out different cocktails, or reading about a different time (I love historical fiction). All of these things make me a well rounded person and that helps make me better at my job. -AJ