Amanda: Hi, I’m Amanda Edwards, Houston City Council Member At-Large and leader of the Mayor’s Task Force for Technology & Innovation. And my guest today is Kim Roxie of LAMIK. Kim, thank you for being here today.
Kim: Thank you for having me, Amanda.
Amanda: Can you tell us a little bit about LAMIK?
Kim: Yeah, so LAMIK actually is an acronym that stands for Love and Makeup in Kindness.
Amanda: Oh, that’s nice.
Kim: Did you feel it?
Amanda: Yes, I like that. That’s very nice.
Kim: Basically, LAMIK is a beauty tech enabled company where we actually manufacture our own products of clean makeup. When I say clean, we’re talking about non-toxic makeup products. The future of beauty, basically, is what it is.
Amanda: Now, you said beauty tech. Tell us, what does beauty tech means.
Kim: I actually founded LAMIK when I was 21, in my college apartment. I came here to Houston, I’m a native Houstonian, but I came here and opened up my first store here. My own brick and mortar store where I sold my products. Kind of like, what are you thinking a 21-year-old girl knows about makeup, but I had med my chemist who had just retired from Estee Lauder and I knew that we needed non-toxic makeup for all women. And so that’s what I went on a quest to do. Last year, I decided that I wanted to take our company to the next level by really including technology in our business. I did an incubator, and I have now a new beauty tech enabled resource that happens on our website where, basically, I took the knowledge out of my head and created this artificial intelligence that will be able to recommend the right products for women when they go on our website.
Amanda: So, let me get this straight. With beauty tech, what you’re doing is not just having the actual product itself, but now you’re working with the consumer and then identifying, using artificial intelligence, what would be the best fit for the consumer.
Amanda: How does that actually work? How do you know what’s the best fit for me or anybody else?
Kim: Taken my expertise, I have been doing this for fourteen years. Having that business, this year, comes up on fifteen years. I’ve looked at a lot of women’s faces.
Amanda: So, you don’t analyze women’s faces when you just see them in person?
Kim: I do. Actually, I do.
Amanda: So, don’t tell me anything about mine but just—
Kim: I’ll tell you a lot about yours. You are so beautiful.
Amanda: Thank you.
Kim: I would never want to say that over and over because some people think that’s how you got here, right? But you got here with more than just that. I think that beauty is revealed and not applied. I think that everything that makes you up is what makes you beautiful.
Amanda: You have all kinds of mantras and slogans, I love it.
Kim: For me, I do look at every woman and I take all of her characteristics of her face in mind, and that’s what I’m able to teach that robot, if you will, or teach that machine learning to know what to do to be able to recommend or get the right products for a person. Because now, you have fashion tech, right?
Amanda: That’s true.
Kim: And those huge companies happening where things just arrive onto your doorstep, and the same thing is happening with beauty. Now, the woman is more confident about buying online because she has that sort of tool that’s helping her to buy.
Amanda: Give me one example with your products what your artificial intelligence, the technological component of it, what it would tell a woman. Should it say, oh, you need to get this shade of lipstick if you’re going to be buying eyeshadow. What kind of information is it; A, getting; and B, relaying it so that person’s purchase is the right purchase?
Kim: The fact that you were able to just go at it just like that lets me know that you’re ready for what we’re doing. Basically, like right now, on our website we have our celebrity brow kit. I created the kit because my eyebrows don’t grow all the way to the end. Some people might say TMI, but somebody is watching this thinking, mine too. My eyebrows didn’t grow all the way to the end, so I created this product to be able to fill in my brows to be able to give me that wonderful brow shape that I wanted for my brows to fill them in. When you go on a website it’s really hard to figure out, which brow color would I need? How can I get the right kit for my face? So, I ask you certain questions that I know will be able to trigger. So, I give that tool, the quiz, the knowledge, and then that quiz is able to ask you certain questions and then from there it’s going to be able to result and spit out the right answer.
Amanda: And tell you what to buy.
Kim: Yeah, it’s almost like a prescription. It’s like, you know, is this an issue? What color is this? Is it oily, is it dry? What texture is this? And then that’s how we tell you what’s the right formula for you. I love it because I’ve been places where women have come and brought their answers to their questions, their recommendations, and I’m like, yes, that’s it. We tested this out. We put it through beta, and we’re so excited about being able to do this.
Amanda: Where do you see this going? I know that you and I have talked about this but you see it going beyond your particular brand of beauty products and going outward. Tell me a little bit about that.
Kim: I think it’s time to take the guess work out of it. Beauty is the third highest bought product online when you look at that behind fashion, apparel and electronics. So, how can we make that number one? We make that number one by getting that logic, getting that artificial intelligence, that machine learning that will help a person be able to buy the right products. A woman, no matter if there is a recession going on, she is going to buy some makeup. It’s just going to happen. It’s already been proven. So, how can we best help her? It’s been known that in beauty, women buy beauty products just to make themselves feel better. How can I get you on your phone to go ahead and just push yes?
Amanda: You have a bad day you go and buy lipstick.
Kim: Yes, you do. Exactly. More mascara. So, it’s a good way now to where you are able to get the right products. The feedback you get a lot of times with beauty is that I just didn’t get the right thing, so I’m buying more trying to get the right products. With this type of machine learning that we’re doing with this tool that we’re developing and sort of reiterating with, we want to expand it so that way we can have where you can go online, be able to feel so confident, no questions asked. It’s almost like, what size shoe do you wear, you know, in narrow or wide, and you know exactly what it is. When you order that shoe you know it’s going to fit. It’s just like that with makeup. I think it’s so needed, because on a lot of websites, you don’t have that.
Amanda: Now, do you see that going to other types of vendors and companies as well? Do you see yourself becoming the person that is now marketing this artificial intelligence as well?
Kim: Definitely. Especially because I understand all skin tones. Another issue is that some of the development that’s happening in our phase, in our world, is that in technology they’re not developing for enough colors, for enough shades of skin tone. I understand all of these undertones, I’ve seen them all. I live in the most diverse city in the country, right? This is Houston. And, so I have women of all backgrounds that come to us, all generations that come to us. We know that the median age here in Houston is a millennial age, right? But, she is a diverse woman. I’m excited because I’m able to take just women here that I’m able to learn from and use that to be able to develop this technology that works.
Amanda: A very interesting point you bring up about the diversity here in Houston. Of course, many people are surprised to learn that Houston is the most diverse place in the country. Most people think Houston and they have images of the 80’s, of the program Dallas, and that’s what they think Houston is. In fact, Houston is very different, it’s very diverse, and what we’re trying to do here is really build an ecosystem where people are beginning to flock to this ecosystem but then also that we’re growing our own. You had an interesting little bit of your journey in that you took a detour. You’re born and raised here but then you ended up going to Austin, but then decided—and had to make a decision to come back to Houston. Can you tell me about the decision to come back to Houston? I think you did some incubator opportunities in Austin before coming back?
Kim: Definitely. You know, a lot of people don’t know that most of our products are manufactured right here in Houston. There is a huge cosmetic lab, I know for a fact, on the North side of Houston, that’s happening. They are not only manufacturing our products; they’re manufacturing other products that are in other stores as well. Sometimes we don’t get enough shine on that. When you look at technology, I just think that it needs to be widened. I’m in beauty tech. There’s EdTech, there’s FinTech, there’s fashion tech, there’s not one way. The future is tech, right? The future is how are you going to get these products or your services to people? For me, going to Austin was great because it was right next door. I sort of look at it as a diamond effect. I look at these cities connecting; Houston, Austin, Dallas; connecting. I look at it as a travel path for me to be able to get the resources that I need. So, yes, we did an incubator there and were able to do a lot of wonderful things out of there and be able to add to our team in some ways. For me, having a home office here in Houston is kind of like a no-brainer because this is the city that built me. This is the city that made it so I would be in business this long. To even sort of make this scale up with technology was because of women here in this city. Definitely staying true to that is really important. Also, too, I think that we have more opportunity to grow here, and so that’s what really called me home.
Amanda: And so, coming in and being a part of a movement. That sounds more exciting —
Kim: And a trailblazer.
Amanda: Right, exactly. That’s the one thing that I think is very unique about our ecosystem here is that we’re not just already fully established or reached our peak. We are actually fulfilling our potential and reaching our potential on a day to day basis. We’re working toward that every day. Being a part of that, there seems to be a lot of upside to that, if you ask me.
Kim: I agree. I totally agree. You really have led the charge here as well and taken this upon yourself to do this. Too much information, but you know, we talk late at night and all that kind of stuff to get this together. You’re committed to this. It’s not something that’s just another badge on your wall. This is something that you really care about and want to see happen. That’s the reason why when I explain to you I’m on the beauty tech side of this, you’re like, oh, ok, explain it, show me. That’s the part that we love. As a founder of a beauty tech enabled company, I am grateful to leadership like yourself to be able to make that happen.
Amanda: That was so extraordinary and such and incredible story. I wish you nothing but success. I know that your business will continue to grow. Being in a place like Houston where the ecosystem itself is growing is going to be a huge part of that. I appreciate you joining me today for this interview.
Kim: Thank you.
Amanda: And that wraps up our discussion with Kim Roxie, founder of LAMIK.
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