Alyssa Space is a chemist and entrepreneur. She is the owner of For Her Cosmetics and My Space Laboratories. I found Alyssa’s story to not only be inspiring, but also relatable, as she and I shared similar experiences of being a woman in STEM. What I found most inspiring about Alyssa’s story is not only did she use her knowledge of STEM to create a beauty brand, but she also believes in giving back, by sharing her knowledge and providing STEM enrichment opportunities to others. I admire Alyssa for creating a brand that encourages women to feel beautiful no matter what and creating space for diversity in the beauty industry. Read more about Alyssa’s story below:
I started off the interview by talking to Alyssa about her childhood.
Her childhood started in Chicago, then around first grade, she moved to Detroit. Alyssa talked about how she was into math as a child, and participated in academic games, as well as dance, soccer, basketball, softball and golf. She also mentioned that she was naturally curious and she had a science teacher growing up, that was, “so kind and inviting and I naturally gravitated towards science because I enjoyed her class”.
"...I naturally gravitated towards science because I enjoyed her class”.
When asked about whether her science teacher played a role in her interest in STEM, Alyssa said, “yes, especially in my younger life, just knowing what I know now, statistically how girls are usually turned away from science at younger ages, I really appreciate that she was supportive in my endeavors to pursue different routes through science.”
After talking a bit about where her interest in STEM began, I pressed the fast forward button, to her time in college.
When asked about when it was time for college, and whether she knew she was going to major in chemistry or be interested in chemistry, she told me that she actually laughed a little when she read that question. She then proceeded to say that her original major was chemistry and her goal was to work for a beauty lab because she had gotten into makeup in high school and wanted her very own makeup line. There was a period in her college career that she switched to chemical engineering, but Alyssa said switching to chemical engineering was the worst decision and she should have just gone with her initial gut. Alyssa said, “Now, whenever I make a decision, I literally stick with it.” Alyssa and I even shared a laugh about how parents try to influence our decisions. Alyssa said, “...doing it for someone else, you’re going to end up being unhappy...” I 100% agree with that statement.
“...doing it for someone else, you’re going to end up being unhappy...”
I asked Alyssa whether she had any mentors in college, she said that she can’t recall having an actual mentor. She had a boss that was supportive of her being in science, however “having someone that I could go to and tell me their experience, I didn’t really get that until adulthood, after college…”
I also asked her about a major high and a major low about her college experience and she said, “not to sound cliche but my major high was when I walked across that stage and I heard my brother scream my name…” She even told me she milly rocked across the stage, which definitely made me giggle. She says her low in college was when she couldn’t connect with her peers and felt lonely.
Although Alyssa was extremely happy and excited to graduate from college, she told me that she did not have a job waiting for her. She said, “ you get over one hurdle, you graduate, but then the next hurdle is...can I actually get a job.” She then mentioned how she was scared and thought, “what if I worked this hard for a degree and I can’t even utilize it.” She said that although she was unsure, she was inspired, “if I can do that (graduate from college), I can do anything else.”
“ you get over one hurdle, you graduate, but then the next hurdle is...can I actually get a job.”
We then got to the post grad journey of her life. We proceeded to talk about how entrepreneurship came into the picture for her.
Her company, For Her Cosmetics, started off as a side hustle. She saw her ‘side hustle’ as an opportunity, when she discovered corporate America was not the best fit for her.
Of course a follow up question I had was: how did she choose the name For Her Cosmetics?
She said, “For Her is like me talking to myself, like it's for myself. I created that name because it was a gift to myself essentially and girls who didn’t feel that they were represented in the beauty industry.”
"...it was a gift to myself essentially and girls who didn’t feel that they were represented in the beauty industry.”
I asked her to give a rough estimate of the timeline of For Her Cosmetics from it’s inception to its launch. She said that she sat down with her mentor, wrote everything she wanted on paper and manifested it. She also mentioned that talking about how she created For Her Cosmetics is still ‘touchy’ to talk about (Which I thought was absolutely adorable because I could hear the passion in her voice as she spoke). She started an instagram for For Her Cosmetics in 2016, where she would post makeup tips and pictures of makeup looks and she launched in 2018.
When asked about the hardest part of launching her business, she said, “Building the website.” She then went on to say that there were so many aspects that went into starting a business that she had to learn along the way because it wasn’t something that she was taught.
I know that being an entrepreneur is hard and many don’t realize the hard work that gets put in. I asked her what the three hardest things about being an entrepreneur are.
“Mindset, finding resources, discipline/ time management”
I pressed the fast forward button again and this time we went to the future, and I asked where she sees her brand in the year 2030.
She said she would have impacted at least 20,000 children through her enrichment program, For Her Cosmetics will be a global brand that educates women and children, and ultimately creates a platform for women who didn't have a voice in the beauty industry. She also emphasized how she wants to share her knowledge and all the things she has learned about starting a business, diversifying income, and the beauty industry with other women.
Moving on from her business, we talked about a very important cause that Alyssa cares about: providing STEM enrichment opportunities, which she does through her lab called My Space Laboratories.
“My Space Laboratories is a collaborative lab space for children/ young adults to come in and essentially learn how to apply real world tactics to the lab. My Space Laboratories gives equal opportunity for women and children to explore the possibility that they might love science.” She emphasized that whenever she does her lab demonstrations she explains exactly why she uses each product and the effect that it has, in order to ensure that children understand the real world application of science.
"My Space Laboratories gives equal opportunity for women and children to explore the possibility that they might love science.”
We then talked about how people tend to doubt the abilities of women in STEM. I asked Alyssa about whether people doubt her abilities as a chemist. She shared that whenever she has presentations, and begins her pitch by introducing herself, people are shocked that she is a chemist. She said, “I have definitely felt like I was underestimated…”
On to more fun questions
Who or what are your three favorite makeup brands/ beauty influencers?
“Rihanna for Fenty Beauty, The Lip Bar, Mented Cosmetics”
A follow up question I had was whether she felt that the background/ownership of a company mattered to her.
“Yes, because we as consumers, we have to relate to a brand.” She then related this to her own brand and said, “... if I am genuinely myself, people who really relate will help and support”
I also asked if she was stranded on an island , what 5 beauty products would she bring
“Facial cleanser and exfoliator, magnetic lashes (so she wouldn’t have to also add the lash glue for the regular lashes), moisturizing lip balm, moisturizer.”
With everything going on in the world, I had to ask Alyssa what does self care look like for her.
“Doing a weekly mask, actually getting up and brushing my hair, doing my makeup, sometimes disconnecting from everything around me”
A GlamScience team member noticed Alyssa attended a Forbes under 30 event, so I was able to ask her about that experience:
She said that she heard Forbes was coming to her city and they were going to have an entrepreneur startup hub. “I got into it because I saw that it was a great networking opportunity.” She explained that she made so many crucial connections and she felt that the event was a big step to show that she is really serious about her business, and going into that space would help her manifest what she wanted next.
To wrap up the interview, I asked her what is the best piece of advice she would give to college girls in STEM and girls thinking about STEM majors.
“Don’t listen to the haters…”
When asked what she would tell her 18 year old self, she said, “don’t listen to the haters and also keep going! ”
“Don’t listen to the haters and also keep going! ”
The very last question I asked was, what message do you hope girls will take away from seeing your page and using your products?
“Like my mission/motto: Beauty is Universal, Beauty is Her, I just want them to see themselves as what is considered beautiful… coming from someone who struggled with self image and not always certain or sure about how I felt about my skin tone, I don’t want other girls to feel that way. You are beauty. PERIOD!”
You can visit Alyssa's website at forhercosmetics.com and also on instagram at forhercosmetics