Dianne Plummer is a Branson Centre entrepreneur from Jamaica, who over the last three years has channelled her chemical engineering training into building one of the Caribbean’s most exciting and sustainable cosmetic companies.
Today we’re sharing the story behind her business success, her lessons learnt with the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, Caribbean, and her advice for up-and-coming business owners in Jamaica.
Tell us the story of how True Shade Cosmetics started out
While studying Sustainable Energy and Mechanical Engineering in Sweden and Finland, I was unable to find make-up that offered the ideal coverage without irritating my sensitive skin and eczema. I had to wait until I came home to Jamaica (or travel to an area with a large population of darker skin) to purchase the products that I needed. I remember how frustrated I was the day my last bottle of foundation fell to the ground decided then that I needed to use my background in Chemical Engineering (BEng) to create my own make-up line for sensitive skin.
Where did your passion for business stemmed from?
My desire to start a business grew from my personal need, as a woman of colour living in Northern Europe, to find the correct shade of make-up for my sensitive skin. I’m also a very driven person with a love of problem solving and a desire to help people. My dream is to see my Jamaican brand one day competing with MAC in Macy’s, Harrods or Nordstrom.
When did you first hear about the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, Caribbean?
I started my Branson Entrepreneurship training in September 2014. I made contact with them after returning to Jamaica in late July 2014. A friend told me about their programmes that help develop entrepreneurs, provide networks of like-minded individuals and help access grants and other types of funding.
How has the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship helped transform your business idea into a reality?
As a woman with a technical background, I needed to increase my knowledge of developing a business. I had the idea and the product, but I needed to learn the fundamentals of developing a business plan and suitable growth strategy for my company. Since joining Cohort 7 of the Branson Centre Programme, I have been able to employ three chemistry interns and six make-up artist trainees. I was previously doing everything on my own.
How are you ensuring True Shade Cosmetics has a positive impact in the surrounding community and environment?
As a person with a passion for sustainability, all of my packaging is recyclable and I encourage the use of a drop-off station at a local retailer where clients return old packaging. My ultimate dream is for True Shade Cosmetics to be a completely green company, utilising renewable energy and organic ingredients for production of cosmetics.
Since August 2014, I have provided paid internships for young women to gain practical experience, not only in make-up application, but also in cosmetic chemistry. They’re able to get work experience, build their portfolio and get a stipend. I truly believe that my company can play a key role in female empowerment and in September I will be starting my True Shade School Tour to encourage teen girls about venturing in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
What is the most important thing that running a business has taught you?
Running a business has taught me how to be resilient and how to bounce back quickly after disappointments – to keep moving forward. Being a Branson Centre Official Entrepreneur has exposed me to training and provided access to finance. It’s taught me that the sky is the limit. I’ve recently expanded the reach of my products and they are now available in Barbados, Cayman Islands and Japan.