Alumni Entrepreneur: Valerie Smith (’14)

Valerie Smith with skincare clientUsing the business knowledge and networking skills she acquired at LIM College, Valerie launched her own company in May of 2017. With 25 stores nationwide now carrying her natural skincare products, Valerie is quickly learning lessons about the patience and passion it takes to run a successful business.

What’s happening in your career now?
My current full-time job is as a Planner for a men’s private label accessories company. But about a year ago, I started my own company, Klei, which is a natural, cruelty-free line of self-care products. I’m on track to be working on Klei full-time starting this summer.

Tell us about your company.
I wanted to develop my passion for making natural skincare products. Even as a child and teen, I enjoyed making masks and perfumes from ingredients I found in my kitchen. The current Klei product line includes clay masks, facial scrubs and cleansers, and floral facial steams. I’m launching facial oils and bath soaks soon.

Klei productHow did your LIM College education help prepare you to start your own business?
The skill that has benefited me the most in growing my business is networking, which LIM strongly emphasized and encouraged. Every important connection I have made so far has been through networking.

What do you enjoy most about running your business?
I love seeing people actually use my products! If a customer buys something from the Klei line and loves it enough to incorporate it into their daily routine, it means I’m doing something right.

What do you envision for the future of your company?
Additional Klei productShort-term, I’m working to expand the Klei product line and grow my list of wholesale accounts. Long-term, I’d like to establish a studio and build other skincare and beauty brands. I have many ideas!

What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about starting their own business?
Don’t be discouraged in the beginning. When I first started Klei, my sales expectations were way too high. I became frustrated with what seemed to be a slow progression. But I kept at it and adjusted my process along the way. If you trust your process, while working to improve it at the same time, growth will come.