Amanda McIntosh, creator and founder of Take My Face Off, had one thing in mind when she created The Makeup Mitty: a better alternative to using a wash cloth to cleanse her face. Little did she know, she managed to invent two super amazing cleansing cloths that are not only better for your skin, but also better for the environment! I love that you can use them with any cleanser and that they’re really easy to wash (hand wash or even put them in the washing machine). Here’s what Amanda has to say about what she’s learned so far about starting her own beauty company…
What inspired you to create The Mitty?
I really hated washcloths, but I needed them for a particular cleansing routine my friend taught me. It improved my skin so much that I couldn’t bear to go back to my old hands, water, and cleanser method. I kept running out of clean washcloths before laundry day, and I was always looking for new ones—softer, or cuter, or maybe less gross. No luck! I wondered where the good ones were hiding.
One night I found myself considering using a paper towel because I was (again) out of clean terrycloth. Paper towels?! It was the last straw. I realized that everyone I know owns washcloths, yet we all hate them. At that time, facial cleansing aids were either $200 electronic brushes or coarse terrycloth squares. The gap was huge, and I decided to see if I could fill it.
Tell us about the environmental impact of cotton and disposable makeup wipes and how The Mitty helps solve those issues.
I didn’t even realize the Mitty could have an environmental impact until I dug into the business of beauty. When I learned that most people use single-use disposables like wipes and cotton balls to remove makeup, I realized that the Mitty could be a solution to a larger problem. This turned my washcloth project into a life mission.
It’s complicated, but both wipes and cotton balls are terrible for the environment. Wipes are mostly plastic and they’re the fastest-growing cause of shoreline pollution. A lot of the ones that say “biodegradable” actually create toxic byproducts as they break down. Cotton is one of the “dirtiest” crops in the world, and the related pesticides and mismanagement of water have caused a lot of devastation. Even organic cotton comes with a lot of problems…
That said, there’s a place for both wipes and cotton in our world—I buy them sometimes! But they don’t cleanse skin very well and they’re kind of scratchy. I see Mittys as being like stainless steel water bottles—people realized there was a better, more elegant option to disposable plastic bottles. I want people to realize there’s a better, more effective, more sustainable option to wipes and cotton balls. The recent hubbub over straws was fascinating! I love that the awareness of the problem spread so fast, although I’m not a fan of guilting people into making changes.
For our marketing, I try to lead with the fact that we’re stylish and so much more effective, but my ulterior motive is all about the environment. I’ve got to be one of the luckiest people on the planet—I get to combine beauty with a full-on environmental crusade. It’s fun AND meaningful!
What’s one thing you want every potential customer to know about your products?
Can I tell you two? I can’t choose!
Mitty fabric is incredibly soft and special! The fibers are perfect, tiny cylinders that reach every millimeter of skin to cleanse without tugging or abrading.
Mittys are way easier and more effective than hands, cleanser, and water, and they’re light years ahead of washcloths. I mean, we have a “Detailer” for your lash line! What could be better?
What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
I’m proud that our first retail relationship was with Sephora. At the time, we weren’t in any stores, and my manufacturer had just dumped me because I was too small to be worth his time. But my Mitty Blackout Eye Makeup Remover was so innovative it caught the eye of one of Sephora’s contract manufacturers. I had no experience with beauty retail, so I did my homework. I wound up with a no-risk deal that put my company name and logo in every Sephora store in the United States. I’ve had more than a few lawyers and beauty executives drop their jaws in disbelief when give all the details.
What has been the biggest mistake you’ve made so far with your business and what did you learn from it?
Early on, I hired a branding/marketing agency because I assumed I needed one. These people tried to make me feel like I wasn’t capable of making my own branding decisions. My gut told me it wasn’t a good match. But I was really interested in learning new things, and I hoped our differences would be a strength, not a problem.
It turns out my gut was smarter than my head. This agency continued to try and convince me that I wasn’t “cool” enough to know what was best. In the end, they did some pretty unethical things that cost me a lot of money. I love my lawyer—she said I could almost certainly win a lawsuit, but that moving forward without giving them a second thought was a better use of my life’s energy. She was right.
If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be with and why?
If I’m going to nerd out, George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), the author of Daniel Deronda and Middlemarch. She was an amazing psychological observer and she managed to have a rich professional life despite living in Victorian England. But most days, Jen Sincero, the author of You Are a Badass. She’s hilarious, I love her, and her awesomeness is totally contagious. Or Richard Branson. Every time I feel like I’m in over my head, I reread his books. He takes such monster risks and lives so large, it makes me feel like anything is possible.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Become a connoisseur of advice. You’re going to need a lot of information, and everyone wants to give it to you. But beware—not all of it is worthwhile. It can be hard to tell the difference between sage advice and the naysayers who don’t understand what you’re trying to do. Get really skilled at making sure the person you’re asking has enough relevant experience. Keep asking around and comparing the information you collect. Read every book you can get your hands on that deals with entrepreneurialism and your specific field, especially if you can’t find enough experts to speak with. And every single day, read books that are the equivalent of the “mental gym,” like the aforementioned You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. It’s a marathon, not a footrace, and you need to get your attitude in shape.