New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - THIS WEEK IN... - Fleur Guthrie

Han­nah’s boom­ing busi­ness

Un­de­terred by bul­lies or her high school’s no­make-up pol­icy, Han­nah McKe­ich used to turn up to class each morn­ing wear­ing bright-green eye­shadow − al­beit per­fectly blended.

Her cun­ning plan was to never look her teach­ers in the eye, in the hope they wouldn’t no­tice. It, of course, failed (“I’d al­ways get told to wipe it off!”), but this former teen mum has had the last laugh.

Never one to fol­low rules – and with­out any for­mal busi­ness qual­i­fi­ca­tions – Han­nah used her drive, de­ter­mi­na­tion and tal­ents with a make-up brush to teach her­self on­line mar­ket­ing and de­velop her own cos­met­ics brand, Colour Junkie.

Her hard work has paid off too − she’s landed a deal to stock the range in Life Phar­ma­cies na­tion­wide and aims to launch across the Tas­man next year.

“I’m pinch­ing my­self! It feels so sur­real that my per­se­ver­ance has paid off,” says the 26-year-old, whose suc­cess is a far cry from her pre­vi­ous hard­ships of a dys­func­tional child­hood, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and de­pres­sion.

Af­ter leav­ing her Welling­ton school early to study a cer­tifi­cate in hair and beauty at Whi­tireia ter­tiary in­sti­tute, Han­nah fell preg­nant and gave birth to her daugh­ter, Is­abella, at 17.

“The first three years, we spent a cou­ple of nights liv­ing in the car and stay­ing at the Women’s Refuge. It was very, very dif­fi­cult,” she ex­plains.

“I felt like garbage be­ing a young, sin­gle mum on the DPB. In my opin­ion, most peo­ple looked at me and thought: ‘You’re not go­ing to amount to any­thing.’ And I could eas­ily have given in to that judg­ment.”

The turn­ing point came when a man Han­nah was dat­ing got drunk and broke into her house.

“He tried to stran­gle me.

It was aw­ful. That night was a big wake-up call. I re­alised I could’ve died and I didn’t want to waste any more time.”

Knuck­ling down and re­ly­ing on YouTube and Google to guide her, Han­nah re­searched make-up man­u­fac­tur­ers and pri­vate la­belling.

With an eye for what young con­sumers wanted, she be­gan buy­ing cloth­ing items on AliEx­press (an on­line re­tail­ing ser­vice) and sell­ing them in var­i­ous Face­book groups, as well as buy­ing ad­ver­tis­ing on so­cial me­dia.

“By mid-2016, I ended up sell­ing $10,000 worth of prod­ucts in two weeks and was able to come off the DPB,” she says proudly. “With that money in the bank, I knew I wanted to in­vest it in my own brand.

“Be­cause I’m al­ways study­ing what peo­ple are look­ing for and what girls think are wrong with other brands, I saw an op­por­tu­nity to fill gaps in the mar­ket.”

The very savvy and young “mumpreneur” be­gan Colour Junkie with only 100 lip­sticks, which she put her own lo­gos on, then grew her range through an on­line store.

In the first 12 months, the busi­ness made a profit of more than $50,000.

“It’s lit­er­ally just been me in my py­ja­mas, with my com­puter and my stock. Never in my wildest dreams did I imag­ine my cos­metic brand would be sit­ting on a shelf in a phar­macy next to other global iconic brands,” says Han­nah, ad­mit­ting she doesn’t think of her­self as a busi­ness­woman.

“I hate do­ing spread­sheets and book­keep­ing! Peo­ple have also told me I wouldn’t be suc­cess­ful with­out a busi­ness de­gree, but I’m ac­tu­ally re­ally glad I didn’t go and study busi­ness, be­cause I feel like you have to be in there do­ing it to learn.

“I’ve never been some­one who’s scared of try­ing and not suc­ceed­ing. All the re­jec­tions and mi­cro-fail­ures

I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced have been very valu­able lessons for me.”

Han­nah re­cently got a busi­ness part­ner on board and moved from Welling­ton to Auck­land to be closer to him, as well as her fa­ther

Brent, whom she met for the first time seven years ago.

She and Bella (8) now live with Brent and his wife Michelle, and Han­nah says they have both been “hugely sup­port­ive” and fi­nally given her the fam­ily struc­ture she craved but never had grow­ing up.

“As a young girl,

I was never too fussed about fit­ting in. I was a dreamer who was al­ways told to stop chas­ing rain­bows.”

To­day, she uses

‘Chase the Rain­bow’ as her busi­ness’ tag-line to mo­ti­vate other young women to get out there and make their dream a reality.

“Through all the hard times, what kept me go­ing was to not let Bella down. I wanted to be a mother she could be proud of, and I think she is proud of me,” smiles Han­nah.

“Fun­nily enough, make-up isn’t ex­cit­ing to her. I guess be­cause she’s sur­rounded by boxes of colour­ful pal­ettes, she’s bored with it.

“She prob­a­bly won’t be go­ing to school wear­ing green eye­shadow at 13 like I did!”

Af­ter re­con­nectng with her fa­ther Brent (be­low), Han­nah now has the fam­ily unit she al­ways craved as a kid. Han­nah had Is­abella (left) when she was just 17 and has worked hard to be a role model for her young daugh­ter.

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