Ex-Tomboy Jentry Kelley Has Become a Beauty-Biz Titan, Believes in Taking ‘Leaps of Faith’

For someone who has never heard of Jentry Kelley or Jentry Kelley Cosmetics, what is your elevator pitch? Simple, clean, no fuss skincare and makeup. If you want clean, yet easy to use, and you are not a self-proclaimed makeup artist, this brand is for you. We are education-focused. When you have the confidence to do it on your own and tools to make it look right, you can look and feel your best every day when you head out to take over the world.

How did you land in the world of cosmetics? Was the world of beauty always your passion? Actually, I climbed trees and caught frogs as a child! When I was 14, my mom sent me to Page Parkes modeling school and I learned the art of makeup application. I had always been an artist with a canvas, but this time the canvas was my face — and I felt pretty for the first time in my life. Fast foward, I started working at a makeup counter at Neiman Marcus during college and over the course of 11 years I met some amazingly supportive people, and Jentry Kelley Cosmetics was born.

How did you go from working behind the counter at a department store to having a self-titled cosmetics line in branded brick-and-mortar retail locations? A quick mention from a friend that I should create my own line, an American Express Card, and an appetite for success. All the way back to when I was a child, I knew I would own a business one day. In 2011, I charged $35,000 my AMEX card. It was a huge leap, but I knew if I gave every ounce of me, it would be a success. Eight months later, I landed my first retail store, and three years later I was selling to 17 retail locations. Today, I have two brick-and-mortar stores, and just expanded our flagship location by another 5,000 square feet.

Who inspires you? Over the 11 years I spent at Neiman’s I worked for both Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier. Hearing the story of how Bobbi was an artist just like I was, was inspiration and motivation. Later, I landed a counter manager position at Laura Mercier. I started just a few years after Janet Gurwitch sold had to Alticor. Janet would pop in and buy gifts for her friends, and I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting during her visits. Over the years, we have stayed in contact, and it absolutely amazes me to watch the brands she acquires and builds to become strong, well-established household names.

What is next for the brand? Any new ventures? For the first time ever, I am dabbling in fragrance and body products. This is an extremely competitive market, but always something I’ve wanted to do. Again, another leap of faith and an accidental meeting started it all. Our fragrances will have notes of leather and citrus, but also a very clean aroma. I was inspired by Le Labo and Acqua di Parma. We are nearing formulation completeness and so close to the next big move for the company and I cannot wait.

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