Inspiring small businesses: Stubborn Cosmetics

In our ‘Inspiring small businesses’ series we share and celebrate great stories from fellow small business owners who started and run their own business. By bringing you closer to these inspiring businesses we hope that you find motivation, tips and ideas for building yours.

Today, we bring you the story behind Stubborn Cosmetics, the indie skincare company creating handmade products, shared by its founder Annalisa Branca.

What is it that you do?

I’m the founder of Stubborn Cosmetics, an indie skincare company that creates handmade products as well as custom moisturisers. I’m also the Lead Cosmetic Scientist, the Production Engineer, the Procurement Agent, the Graphic Designer, the Lab Technician, the Operations Manager, the Cleaner, the first Customer and the “We.” I’m not the Mother of
Dragons. (If you get the reference to Game of Thrones, consider yourself my

I’m particularly proud of creating the multi-moisturiser. This is a special product for combination skin, aka when your skin acts as Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It’s two completely different creams in one airless bottle, because if we can multi-mask, why can’t we multi-moisturise, right?!
I also love creating custom skincare for those that choose that option and take the skin quiz on the website. We do not test on animals, my only guinea pigs are my husband and friends, and they’re not that furry! We also produce in very small batches because, hey, I am only one person with many hats!

What’s the story behind your business?

The way I approached skincare is not quite conventional. When I was in high school, I was looking into some supplements and got scared by reading about potentially harmful ingredients. That led me to look also into skincare ingredients. For a long time my purchasing choices were based on fear. My college education helped me immensely in learning to read scientific literature and discern between sources. That is when I understood that there is a lot of information on the net that can be very misleading and that surely needs to be filtered. For instance, did you know that the vitamins used in cosmetics are produced synthetically in labs?

After having experienced fear-mongering, I made it my mission to educate
people, so they can make informed decisions, rather than scared ones. That’s when I created my personal Instagram account, where I share info about skin issues, ingredients and what they do. I purposely decided to create a brand that is based on the best of both the natural world and the scientifically studied ingredients.

So yes, I formulate my products using green chemistry, but nope, I’m not going to scare you with buzz words like “toxin- and chemical-free”. Instead, I curated a selection of naturally derived ingredients and scientifically proven synthetic actives (like peptides and vitamins) because they are just too good to be given up! Because I’m the nerd that I am, I keep sharing my knowledge also on @stubborncosmetics (Instagram) where I explain what’s the hype with antioxidants, whether there’s a difference between men’s and women’s skin etc..

What inspired you to start your own business?

I’m an engineer and completely changed career path because skincare is such a passion, that I could not stop thinking about it. The idea of starting my skincare line buzzed around my head for eight years before I actually jumped into it. Eight years, that meant something!

That, and the fact that I could not find a moisturiser that could actually address the double nature of my combination skin. All I could find were creams to “balance” out, but the truth is that the oilier and drier parts need two different types of care. And you know how they say: “If you want something done, do it yourself”. That’s what I did.

What is the most difficult aspect of running your own business?

The most difficult thing is that I’m my own boss. It’s difficult to keep a balance between working and private life. There is no working form 9 to 5, there are no fixed hours and sometimes working days shift into weekends, especially when it’s a one-woman show like mine. Things need to be done. It surely is challenging to wear many hats, and acquire very diverse skills. That kind of effort can be driven only by passion.

What is the best thing about running your own business?

Being independent and the fact that I don’t do what I do just to bring money at the end of the month. Obviously bills need to be payed, but I could have stuck with my previous career for that. With this job I love that I can be both very technical and very creative. It’s a good mix. I like having a close relationship with my customers and they often consult me for skincare advice. I want my products to make a difference and I want my customers to be happy with their purchase. These are truly huge motivators for me.
Sure, being an entrepreneur is a big risk. Things can go wrong, but if there is a real purpose, overcoming the fear of the unknown comes natural and it’s very rewarding.

To find our more about Stubborn Cosmetics visit their website and follow them on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

One thought

  1. I have tried Stubborn moisturisers and they are absolutely amazing!
    Besides, Annalisa’s story is truly inspiring…well done!!

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