With almost one million followers on Instagram, you have the power to do almost anything, and influencer-turned-serial-entrepreneur Courtney Shields uses her platform to give back to her curated online community. Starting out as a lifestyle and beauty blogger, Shields spent seven years building a circle of followers and readers until she had enough followers to launch jewelry brand Bow and Brooklyn. After receiving positive reviews (and another 43.4K followers on the brand’s Instagram) she was onto her next project, and it just launched yesterday.
Introducing DIBS, an easy-to-use makeup line that consolidates all of your favorite products into one. While it only has two products in its repertoire as of now—Desert Island Duo ($32) is a blush-bronzer duo and Status Stick ($32) is a body highlighter—Shields and her team have a lot in the works. Before she spills what’s to come, she walks us through how she got to where she is now.
You’re a serial entrepreneur. How did you launch your two brands?
“I spent seven years building these brands for my community. I started as a blog, and my content was always about quality over quantity of people. There was never a moment I went viral—it was honestly just a lot of hard work and a lot of time put into starting these brands day in and day out. I think I spent about three years before I made a dollar, but I really wanted to build a community of my own. Once I gained this following, I used my blog as a platform to launch my brands. I was talking to my consumers about what they like and what they needed and we would just connect on so many levels, so I built my two brands for us. The foot in the door was really starting everything seven years ago and staying with it because I really built a friendship and a trust with everybody following along. When you build a genuine connection with people, they want to support you. When I launched Bow and Brooklyn, we sold out in about two hours and the Instagram account got to 30K in a day. It was crazy.”
What made you want to start a beauty brand?
“We’ve been working on DIBS for about a year and a half now, but the name DIBS is an acronym for ‘desert island beauty status,’ and it came from trying every product under the sun. I can walk into any Sephora and Ulta and give my advice on any product—I have a pretty deep product knowledge. Before DIBS, I felt like I had all of these products that were ‘meh’ in my makeup bag and then I had a little section that I couldn’t live without. So, DIBS is really about creating the products people can’t live without. If we were to go to a desert island and be like ‘Hey, Olivia, you can only take four products to a desert island,” you would have to take these products because they’re super versatile, they boost your mood, they make you look and feel beautiful, they’re easy to use and using them is an all-around enjoyable experience from the results of the product to the actual use of everything.
As far as the ideas, I really wanted it to be things the everyday person was going to love and use all the time, so I would say that’s how that started. Also, I didn’t want to chase trends—I wanted to create products that will help enhance your natural features. I grew up Lebanese in Austin, and—spoiler alert—there aren’t a lot of Lebanese people in Austin. All my friends were blonde with blue eyes growing up and I was the different one. Because of that, I didn’t know how to embrace my natural beauty and my features. I was trying to look like them. You don’t have to be pretty like her—you can be pretty like you and I think that embodies the brand and why I wanted to start it. I want people and women everywhere to feel beautiful but like the best versions of themselves.”
You tested the products on attendees at the DIBS launch event and they looked so good on every skin tone.
“That was what we wanted! There are so many people that are underrepresented around the world so I really wanted DIBS to be inclusive, whether it was with bodies or skin tones. It’s fun—I love color-matching people and being like ‘How would this look on your skin?’ You can’t mess the products up and you can use all the shades no matter what you look like. They’re really versatile and not intimidating at all. You don’t have to wear makeup to use these products because it’s so easy. I just want everyone to feel beautiful and excited about the products.”
Outside of DIBS, what are your favorite beauty products?
“I feel like you always have to have an SPF—I love the Tula Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($36) because it gives me that really nice glow. I also love the Lancome Cils Booster XL Vitamin-Infused Lash Thickening Mascara Primer ($27). I literally cannot do my makeup without my primer. My mom introduced it to me when I was 15 and it’s so good. They key with this primer is that you want to let it sit for a minute. It gets gooey if you apply your mascara right after, but don’t wait too long because it gets hard. For my brows, I use the Göt2b Ultra Glued Invincible Styling Gel ($5) and I use it with a spoolie.”
Managing two brands must be a lot of work. How do you keep your life balanced and find time to unwind?
“I have a really great team and there’s a stigma in our society where so many people try to make it look like they run their businesses themselves, but I’m really vocal about saying I have a team of amazing people who are very qualified and really great. They help me a lot so I can balance my everyday life and be a mom and a human being. I share custody of my 4-year-old daughter so when I have her I want to focus on spending quality time with her by putting my phone away and getting off Instagram. Even though I’m not solo, having quality time with her fills up my soul and it’s incredible. On the days I don’t have her, I like to take a relaxing bath with epsom salts, read a paperback book or go for dinner and drinks with a friend. It’s all about finding ways to balance.”