The entrepreneurship journey can take many paths, and becoming a successful entrepreneur means acquiring a few skills along the way. According to Eliana Cardeno, Founder and CEO of Kiyomi Beauty, LLC., entrepreneurs should be passionate, take risks and be okay with failure.
When Eliana first introduced Kiyomi Beauty at a reSET pitch event in 2018, she was a bit unsure of herself and her product. She decided to pitch on a whim, and when she got positive feedback from the audience, the rest was history.
Kiyomi Beauty, LLC. was created to help women (and men) feel empowered about their skincare journey. The subscription box provides beauty products geared toward different skin types and lifestyles as well as educational materials packaged in a convenient and “cute” box (“Kiyomi” means cute in Korean).
Through her travels, Eliana gathered information and skills that eventually led her to launching Kiyomi. As a student at the University of Hartford, Eliana earned her Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, and while at Central Connecticut State University, Eliana earned a Master’s in Biomolecular Science. Although she was not initially interested in entrepreneurship, she now credits her education to her ability to manage her business..
“I was always interested in the nonprofit space and health sciences in particular,” said Eliana. “My education and many of the nonprofit jobs I had after graduation taught me how to manage finances, write grants, coach people and meet goals. These skills are still very relevant for me as an entrepreneur.”
In addition to having the right business skills, entrepreneurship also requires passion and the ability to take risks.
“Don’t be afraid to go after your dreams and forge your own path,” advised Eliana. “As a child, entrepreneurship was not something I was encouraged to do. My family migrated to the United States from Colombia, and I was encouraged to pursue a career in law or engineering.”
While she eventually went in a different direction, her family and Latinx roots heavily influenced her decision to pursue skincare. She wanted to have a product that could work for everyone including the Latinx community and communities of color. Eliana sees Kiyomi as a way to connect cultures and to address beauty standards in both Eastern and Western societies.
“My company is a compilation of my own skincare journey and travels,” said Eliana reflecting on her own experiences. Eliana spent two years in South Korea as a model, which really served as the catalyst for launching Kiyomi Beauty. While there, she experimented with beauty products and learned how skincare regiments were passed down generationally, which reminded her of her own Latinx family.
When Eliana returned to the United States, she began crystalizing her plans. Following the pitch event at reSET, she decided to apply for the IMPACT Accelerator. The Accelerator helped her realize there was a market for her product, which gave her even more confidence to move forward. She built a network of mentors and eventually went on to win a monetary prize at the ReSET Venture Showcase in 2019. Recently, Eliana won first place in the She Means Business Incubator™.
Looking ahead, Eliana will focus on growing her customer base and her impact on society. She is learning to incorporate more eco-friendly products into her packaging; most of her products are vegan, and none have been tested on animals.
Eliana believes that no matter where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, “remember to believe in yourself, focus on the positive and keep going for your dreams.”
In the next few weeks, Eliana will be taking her entrepreneurship skills to the private sector, working for an innovation team for a large, locally-based insurance company.
Tara Spain, Contributing Writer, is a reSET Board Member,Vice President, Travelers Foundation, and Second Vice President, Travelers Community Relations.