Celebrating #IWD21: Ruth-Ann Robinson, the serial entrepreneur

Ruth-Ann Robinson is more than a hot body and an intelligent mind – she’s the embodiment of the quintessential young, black female entrepreneur.

With a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of the West Indies and certification in skincare, aesthetics, waxing/sugaring, makeup artistry and massage therapy from the Heart College of Beauty Services and the Face Place Institute of Aesthetics; there is no limit to her elevation in the beauty industry.

If you are familiar with the clothing store Urbanastyrd, curated by Kelly Lawrence, you may know the ‘face’ modeling their outfits, it’s Ruth-Ann Robinson. However, modeling bomb outfits is only part of the woman that she is. The twenty-three-year-old serial entrepreneur has challenged herself to not only operate multiple businesses but to never stop learning.

She is the boss behind Ruellia Aesthetics (@ruellia__); Athena.co (@shop_athena_) and one of the managers of Sterling Fragrances (@sterling_fragrances). “The seed that would become Ruellia was planted around high school when I discovered my love for makeup and all things beauty,” she said while explaining how she would practice makeup application in her free time during high school.

Working in makeup artistry can be very difficult to thrive in as some may say the industry is saturated, however it has potential to grow. Ruth-Ann recalls the moment she chose to enroll in a cosmetology course. “I remember teachers and other students would ask why we were doing it and make sly comments as if it were beneath them and a waste of time.” But as the beauty industry evolved over the years, she believes people now realise its value. At Ruellia, a business she registered in 2018, skincare treatments range from full body waxing and sugaring to facials and massages, all offered at her own in-home studio.

The local beauty industry has suffered painful losses due to the pandemic and DIY personal regimens have become a booming trend, forcing many businesses into closure. The level of contact required and restrictions on events saw them losing out on many gigs. Ruellia Aesthetics, like many of its kind suffered greatly.

For the first few months, like many business owners, Robinson froze. “For the first two months I stopped posting entirely, because I had to go back to the drawing board and really brainstorm how I would be able to keep my businesses afloat in the middle of a pandemic,” she explained.

It was her friend Lawrence, who reignited the fire and gave her the push to bounce back. “She explained the importance of maintaining brand awareness throughout the lockdown, while putting myself and my business in a position that as soon as certain restrictions were lifted we would be the first places persons think of.”

With that advice, she re-strategised to function in the ‘new normal’. “It forced me to spend time on other aspects of the businesses such as developing my brands’ stories, what I wanted them to evoke from and ignite in people, delve more into marketing etc,” Robinson stated. “I had to become more creative and interactive with my customers through my Instagram pages to improve and maintain brand awareness, as well as structure costs to be more affordable.”

Like most businesses, Robinson had to pivot, be strategic and proactive as well as reactive. She said, “one thing all businesses should take from this pandemic is the importance of ecommerce and being able to operate your business online.”

The administration supervisor at a micro-finance company even balanced her time to develop a nature-based skincare line. In light of the effects on the economy in the pandemic, under Ruellia, affordable services bundles were created to offset the general cost of her services and to appease the clientele.

However, even now Robinson looks ahead to when the effects of the coronavirus vaccines kick in. “The big goal is multiple locations under Ruellia Beauty Oasis, an intimate one-stop shop for all things beauty related.”

–Jody-Ann Thompson