Barbara Panagos, founder of Brush Up with Barbara and Mineral Mine

Nobody who opens a business for the first time really imagines that it will still be going strong 25 years later. It’s a rare accomplishment, especially in these dicey, post-recession years. And, nobody is more grateful to have accomplished it than Barbara Panagos, who the launched Long Island, New York-based Brush Up with Barbara brand in 1988, followed by the highly successful Mineral Mine private-label makeup company in 2000. Recently, Panagos sat down with DAYSPA to reflect upon her success—and count her many blessings.

Is it especially profound to reach this wonderful milestone during uncertain economic times?
It really is. I see so many businesses closing, it’s so sad. People used to sell their businesses, but now many of them just shut them down. It’s hard times for us “beautiful people.” That’s why I’m so grateful for what God has given me: healthy children, a healthy business, 17 years of marriage. We’re so lucky.

You’re lucky, but you’ve also done a lot of things right—right?
I take care of clients the way I like to be taken care of. The bottom line is, ‘Treat them fairly.’ So, I have clients who have been with me for 25 years. Some have retired, but most of those retirees have referred whoever has taken over their business to us. And I’m still getting new referrals. Of course, having my son Greg and daughter-in-law Joan in the business helps a lot. And being successful hasn’t affected our heads—we’re still the same people. I’m still answering the phones.

You answer phones at your own company?
Sure. People call and when I say, “This is Barbara,” they say, “the Barbara?” They’re always surprised. But I like to chat with our customers, ask them where they’re from, talk about the weather—that’s been a big subject over the past couple of years.

What advice would you give people wanting to start their own beauty business today?
Competition is fierce in today’s beauty industry. Years ago, you’d go to a trade show and there seemed to be one company for each niche—but now, there are so many companies involved in so many product categories. It’s definitely tougher. So anyone who wants to go into business today should think, and then re-think. They should be careful and start small. But they should do it, or they’ll end up years down the road saying, “Why didn’t I?”

—Linda Kossoff

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