Arts / POC in Tech / Social media / Startups

BEE-Q-BOX grew a cosmetics brand from a tweet

Brianna Queen talks about F*ckboy Repellant and her company's viral growth.

Brianna Queen wants BEE-Q-BOX to be a brand with staying power. (Courtesy photo)
Some people feel down after a breakup. On her 20th birthday, Brianna Queen went a different route.

She took to Twitter and announced that she would make “F*ckboy Repellant” makeup. The post, which went viral, demonstrated that there was a market for this in the cosmetics world, as the idea behind it resonated with people, especially when paired with a good product.

Queen, now 21, having hailed from Arlington, Va., and slated to graduate from the University of Maryland College Park next May, turned that Twitter post into BEE-Q-BOX, a successful vegan, alcohol-free, silicone-free and cruelty-free cosmetics brand.

In February, Queen walked into the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition hosted at UMD’s Robert H. Smith School of Business with more than $100,000 in sales on her books; she walked out with Pitch Dingman’s $7,500 second-place prize, which she applied to marketing expenses to grow her brand.

Queen, formerly a pharmacy major and now an information science major, initially began BEE-Q-BOX as a subscription box service and grew from there.

“I have another Instagram page and I shout-out various minority-owned cosmetic brands. So, I started BEE-Q-BOX [offering] these minority-owned brands at a flat rate of $25/month,” said Queen. “I branched off and I started creating my own products and once I started doing that, it was the F*ckboy Repellant that kind of took off and I have a lot of social media popularity at this point.“

In an era when spending money on online advertising seems to be akin to throwing quarters down a wishing well and hoping for the best, Queen was able to build her brand by selling at local pop-up events as well as locating some of the top influencers on the internet to help get the word out.

“I actually didn’t spend a lot of money, or any money, really, on generic marketing,” said Queen. “I just kind of took advantage of influencer marketing, so sending products to people with large followings and having them showcase or repost my products onto their media pages. And from there, that’s where word of mouth referrals came in and I was able to make the sales, turning referrals into customers and grow my social media fan base.”

From here, Queen was also able to establish a referral/reseller program in which customers are given a link that tracks back to their user name, awarding them a 10 percent commission for each referral sale they make.

When asked about personal hurdles, Queen cited her time as her largest constraint.

“Being able to handle school and business at the same time while maintaining my creative spark, if you will,” Queen answered. “I don’t really come out with that many new products, but I’m just now starting to introduce more products to my social media fan base because I’m realizing they get tired of seeing the same product all the time, so definitely that.”

BEE-Q-BOX was able to pin down its social media and use it to its advantage. The same can also be said for its goal of being a socially conscious cosmetics company with a focus on vegan, cruelty free products.

“People are becoming more conscious buyers, so people are definitely researching brands, researching where their products are coming from now more than ever before. So the fact that we cut out animal byproducts or testing on animals is a selling point to some people. Even if they don’t abide by the vegan lifestyle, it’s just a selling point that they actually really do appreciate,” said Queen.

Brianna Queen. (Courtesy photo)

Brianna Queen. (Courtesy photo)

Travel to the BEE-Q-BOX website and the “F*ckboy Repellant” element stands strong as the brand’s ideal and motto. When asked about this, Queen said that while F*ckboy products won’t drive the jerks out of people’s lives or find them their soul mate, it does tap into something that people happen to be feeling today.

“I’m realizing that relationships are glorified and you know, cheating is becoming a norm, sadly,” said Queen. “If you pay attention to news outlets like TMZ, the Kardashians and all these scandals, it’s like it’s not taboo to talk about relationships anymore, so people do talk about how they feel.”

Queen wants to build a “brand that plans to be here for a while, that plans to continue to make products for a wide range of people,” she said.

Given BEE-Q-BOX’s auspicious beginnings, this definitely doesn’t seem out of the question.

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