A young entrepreneur from Cardiff who provides make-up services to trans women is launching her own unisex make-up brand aimed at the LGBT community.
Jessica Blackler, 21, from Llandaff is a qualified make-up artist who honed her craft at the prestigious Delamar Academy in London where she studied make-up, hair and prosthetics for film, TV and fashion.
On her return to Cardiff in 2015, Jessica launched Jecca, pursuing freelance work within film, TV and the fashion industry. However, soon after she started to explore what make-up services were available for the transgender community and began working with a number of trans clients, providing them with makeovers and tutorials.
“My most popular service is a three hour make-up session where I share tips and demonstrate make-up looks for my clients that work for them, tailored to each individual. I want to create a safe space for clients to be themselves and relax in my company. And in 18 months I’ve had over 200 customers, with clients travelling from London, Southampton and from within Wales too.”
To better understand the needs of her clients Jessica frequently meets with LGBT charities, speaking with potential clients and building her reputation within the trans community.
And now Jessica is expanding her budding beauty empire to launch her first ever make-up product, that has been designed specifically for transgender customers. The colour corrector and concealer palette is a unisex product that has been uniquely formulated to offer fuller coverage in order to tackle issues such as beard shadow that many transgender women and cross dressers can experience. It will be available to purchase later this year.
The launch of her first product is the realisation of Jessica’s lifetime ambition to launch her own make-up brand. The brand, which will be called Jecca Cosmetics, has been a year in the making, with Jessica working full time on the company for the last nine months, getting the product market ready, working with a team behind the scenes, including cosmetic chemists, brand designers and a website developer. She already has ambitions to launch a full make-up range in the future.
In the process she has hired her first full time employee, appointed to manage her marketing and social media channels.
“Jecca Cosmetics is inspired by my clients who want to stand out and be themselves. It celebrates individualityand can be used by everyone. The products will be really bold and colourful, but the ultimate message behind it is supporting diversity and encouraging everyone to have confidence in themselves.”
Jessica received mentoring and business support from Big Ideas Wales, part of the Welsh Government’s Business Wales Service which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. She contacted Chris Howlett from Big Ideas Wales in the early stages of Jecca Cosmetics in order to receive one-to-one business advice.
Jessica said of Big Ideas Wales’ support:
“The service was a great help to me. Chris knew exactly the journey I should be taking and gave great advice on the next steps to take, eventually referring me to Business Wales who have been equally as supportive.”
Now, further on in her business journey, Jessica is based at Natwest’s Entrepreneurial Spark hub in Cardiff. The hub is a business accelerator for early stage and growing ventures that provides free support, mentoring, networking and accommodation.
“It’s wonderful seeing how far Jessica has come since our initial conversations about her business plan, to now gearing up for the launch of her first product at the end of this year. She’s a fantastic example of a young person applying entrepreneurial thinking to the skills she has under her belt already to achieve her ambitions. We’re looking forward to seeing how her business grows in the future.”
In the initial stages of developing Jecca Cosmetics, Jessica approached transgender woman Jamie Eagle, 25, to model for the brand. The pair have worked together regularly since, with Jamie helping Jessica to better understand her clients’ needs, while also acting as a model for Jessica’s make-up tutorials.
Jamie, who is from Bridgend said:
“Jessica’s services are so important for trans women who are trying to find their style and confidence. She helps trans women understand how to use make-up properly and make the most of their features.
“Jessica is an accomplished make-up artist, but importantly she is also an open and accepting person who makes people feel really comfortable in her company.”
Alongside her make-up services and developing Jecca Cosmetics, Jessica also founded social networking site ‘The Tran Space’, a safe place for the LGBTQ community to interact. In developing the idea, Jessica worked with other young Welsh entrepreneurs who supported her in designing and creating the website to get the social network up and running.
Jamie is a regular user of The Tran Space, and said:
“Transgender people are often overlooked in society and the social network is providing a safe space for trans people to interact. Often trans people don’t have the right support around them, so this website opens up a network of likeminded people to share stories and support one another.”
Once it launches later this year the colour corrector and concealer palette will retail from £20 (online only initially). For more information visit https://www.jeccacosmetics.com/ and https://thetranspace.com/. On Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, follow @jeccacosmetics
The Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales programme encourages and supports young people aged between 5 and 25 to develop entrepreneurial skills and start a business. Part of the Business Wales Service, it is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. For more information, and to acess support, visit – www.bigideas.wales