BABE #129: JENNIFER MINCHELLA COMEE, Owner/Operator @ The Rosy Cheek
We first connected with Jen when she volunteered her time + talent to do makeup for a styled shoot with one of our favorite Jacksonville nonprofits, Rethreaded. While making us feel hella pretty, she also taught us a little bit about organic skincare and a lot about how much she cares for her biz. She’s a sweet, authentic soul who loves a damn good meal, Led Zeppelin, and stocking her beauty bar + apothecary shop with the best, most ethically-formulated products. Thanks for chatting with us, Jen! You are most certainly a hustlin' babe.
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Current city: Jacksonville, FL
Alma mater: A drawn-out stint in community college before I dropped out.
Degree: Licensed Medical Aesthetician
Very first job: I worked at The Body Shop during the “scrunchie era” at 15 years old.
Hustle: Owner|Operator at The Rosy Cheek beauty bar + apothecary.
Babe you admire and why?
Miranda July. She’s an author, screenwriter, actor, director, artist—the list goes on. I really enjoy what she writes; it’s weird, dark and subversive. She is very unique.
How do you spend your free time?
Nesting, cooking and traveling if we’re lucky. I love going out to eat and having a nice dinner at the bar. (And let’s just say it, Netflix is real high up there, too.)
Favorite app, website or blog?
Vestiaire Collective, where you can buy and sell luxury brand items. I bought my wedding gown with profits from reselling. I guess you can call it my side hustle.
Favorite fictional female character?
Claire Underwood from House of Cards. What a multifaceted, dangerous and sexy woman. A villain and a hero—she scares the shit out of me.
Go-to coffee order?
Macchiato during the week and honey lattes for the weekend. Always Bold Bean on Stockton.
Go-to adult beverage?
The Miley Cyrus. (It’s a super dirty gin martini with blue cheese stuffed olives.)
Favorite Harry Potter book?
As long as it’s read by Jim Dale, I’m happy. Thank God for Audible, my other favorite app.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Start with a dozen raw oysters and martini, followed by lobster tail and a 16 oz. medium-rare New York strip steak with creamed corn and baked potato. Top it off with crème brûlée and a cognac or espresso.
Three things we can always find in your fridge?
Kerrygold Irish Butter, nut milk and frozen green beans for my dog.
Favorite social media account to follow?
Julie O’Rourke of @rudyjude. She’s a momma and designer, and her effortlessly curated account has made me want to move to Maine and spend the rest of my days in the snowy woods in a beautiful home, wearing snuggly oversized monochromatic clothing.
What’s one thing you wish you knew more about?
That’s a list, but I’d love to speak Italian fluently.
What’s something that not many people know about you?
I used to have an infatuation with big trucks. After high school, I drove an old lifted Jeep with 33 x 13.50 Super Swampers. I had the bright Hella lights attached and pulled out the back seat so I could load up friends in the back to go muddin’! Makeup artists can be tomboys, too.
Tell us about your hustle.
I'm the Owner + Operator at The Rosy Cheek, a beauty bar and apothecary shop in St. Augustine, FL. I’ve got my fingers in all the pies, but “hustle” to me, means “make shit happen now.”
What does your typical workday look like?
Lately it starts really early. I’m annoyingly chipper when I wake up (sorry, babe). At 5 a.m. I have a coffee on the couch and listen to a news podcast. I try to post something on Instagram before my 7 a.m. walk. I really take my time making breakfast and getting ready. It’s my personal time; this ritual is slow and easy. I open the shop at 11 a.m., and once the store is prepped I begin checking my emails. (I had no idea how much email would take over my life!) When the shoppers roll in, I’m very interactive. It’s important to explain the products and get guests to sample as much as possible. Checking inventory and remerchandising is something I do daily. Thankfully, everyday is different, so sometimes I’m “in the field” doing bridal makeup or editorial work for local photographers or magazines. During the week if I’m "off," I’ll ship products or attend to meetings about upcoming events. Really, there is always something to do.
What inspired The Rosy Cheek? What has your journey with the shop looked like so far?
I was really inspired by local specialty shops in cities like New York, Austin and Portland. I wanted the inside of The Rosy Cheek to be welcoming and warm like a coffee shop, and to be filled with products that don’t always trickle down to Northeast Florida. It’s always changing and growing in here, figuring out where products will move the fastest. Right now I’m hoping to get my husband to rebuild our makeup area now that we’ve been open long enough for me to understand how to best utilize the space.
Have you always had a love for the beauty industry?
I’ve always loved makeup and skincare. I started using both at a young age, as I suffered from acne. First I learned how to cover my skin with makeup, but eventually I realized how important it was to take care of my skin. I started seeing an esthetician while living overseas about seven years ago. She changed my skin and changed my life, and I vowed to study skincare as soon as I moved back home. For the first time in my life, at 28, I had a career goal and followed through after completing two long years in night school earning my license.
How much variation is there in your job description between physically doing makeup, to stocking and marketing and running the shop?
I do equal parts of each job. In the past, lack of variation caused me to get bored and slack off. This spinning wheel of job roles keeps me creative—and keeps me from crashing.
What draws you to the beauty industry versus other components of retail?
I know the beauty industry; it’s been a part of my life for 12 years. I’m also a consumer, so it’s my passion and it’s always evolving.
What keeps you anchored to Northeast Florida?
Between my husband and I we have three companies here. This has locked us in for the time being—that and our family. Jacksonville will always be home to us, but we really hope to head up North one day.
How has owning a business influenced other aspects of your personal life?
I have met so many incredible women that I am happy to call friends. These gals, fellow business owners in St. Augustine and Jacksonville, have embraced me in their circle and welcomed me into a community of endless support. Sadly, I have also lost some friends along the way. Starting a business in conjunction with getting married has shifted my priorities. I still like to cut loose and be spontaneous, but not as often as I used to.
Do you feel a sense of purpose in your work?
Hell yes! I have the power to change the way a person sees their reflection. With the right products, I can help a woman preserve her healthy skin or clear up acne. I love that this community now has access to these amazing products, and I only want to bring them more.
How has being a woman has affected your professional experience?
While in the beauty industry, I never felt being a women affected my professional experience. If anything, I was surrounded by strong women and gender was not a big deal. However, in past job roles as a young woman working in male-dominated environments, I often felt incredibly sexualized. With the current breakthrough of #metoo, I finally realize the way I was treated was not acceptable.
Do you ever feel like your age is an advantage or disadvantage in your career?
It’s 100 percent an advantage. At this point in my career, I can relate to all women. Ten years ago I may have sounded foolish promoting eye cream and wrinkle serums. Not now. We’re going through it together. I share the problems most women face. It’s also embarrassingly easy to hang with the young things and understand their needs while talking about millennial trends.
What are some common misconceptions about your job?
That it’s easy or “glamorous,” for lack of a better word. The truth is, I have never lost so much sleep in my life. I’m always working. Even if it’s 7 p.m. and I have a cocktail in my hand, most of the time it’s a work event and I don’t have the luxury of going home and putting my feet up.
What are some of the everyday struggles with your job that we might not see?
Communicating with distributors can be a frustrating struggle. Also, understanding the accounting aspects and educating myself on business terms and tax information is super unglamorous but important.
Who are the brands, businesses or people you’d most like to collaborate with?
I’d love to have a small “Rosy Cheek” in a few boutique hotels—maybe one in Costa Rica and one in Asheville, N.C.
What would you say is your biggest strength in your current role?
My ability to connect with different personalities. When people trust me or we can relate, they will invest in the products I offer. They know they are getting take care of and I will meet their needs.
Who are some women in your field that you look to for inspiration?
Where do I begin? Gwynne Mims Minter is a rockstar. Kim Snead over at DRIFT Boutique has been an inspiration for years. Rachel Roberts of Oyl + Water has a wealth of knowledge. Let’s talk about you gals at Babes Who Hustle, drawing us all together on common ground and shining a light on all these badass ladies. The inspiration is endless. [Editor's note: we're blushing.]
What’s your ultimate dream job?
I’d love to get flown to Europe to do makeup for a fashion shoot or wedding.
What advice would you give to a babe trying to break into your industry?
There is a lot of obvious advice and maybe this is adding to it, but make sure you have raised or saved plenty of capital to start. You are not going to make a whole lot of money in the beginning while working out all of the kinks. Be prepared.
What motivates and inspires you?
My husband. His work ethic is unwavering no matter the circumstance. He makes me want to work harder than I have before.
What does success look like to you?
Waking up each morning with a smile on my face and love in my heart.
What are some notable experiences you’ve had on the job?
I could write a book of stories from the days I spent giving Brazilian bikini waxes.
What are your goals for the future?
Lots of long-term goals. It’s a dream at the moment, but I’d love to open another location in Jacksonville. Maybe it would have a different name, but I would serve provisions, potions and lattes made with the wellness goods I carry: golden milk lattes, creamy Beauty Dust smoothies and tonics. I visualize a small grocery area with hard-to-find wellness products. Very The Butcher's Daughter meets French Pharmacy. I’m all over the place with that goal, but it’s definitely something I can’t stop thinking about.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Know that no matter how menial your jobs seems leading up to your career, you are not inferior to anyone around you. Everyone has their own ladder to climb. They all look different, and it’s not a race. Absorb every bit of knowledge thrown your way, and if all else fails make sure you dominate in customer service.
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