By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
Ajla Shuaipi is living out her idea of the American dream.
The Albania-native emigrated with her family to the United States after they won the visa lottery 17 years ago. She grew up in Naples, Fla. and graduated from Florida Atlantic University in December with a degree in communications and marketing.
Now, the 23-year-old, self-described go-getter has her own company Eros Essentials that she created and grew from her FAU dorm room.
During her senior year at FAU, she was finishing classes and working as an account executive at a marketing firm.
She juggled to balance school and work, but enjoyed the challenge. She said the gig taught her about time management and helped her discover what she did and did not want to do when it came to her career.
“I would come home and be like is this really it?” she said. “Did we win the visa lottery to just go to school and work for someone else? It felt unsettling to me.”
But just what Shuaipi should pursue didn’t click until she was looking for a specific body lotion and couldn’t find it.
“I said, ‘Screw this, I will make it myself,’” she said.
Always into skin care, she wanted something that was natural and not from a lab.
So, she ordered shea butter, lavender oil and shimmer and created a shimmer lotion. She posted a photo of her concoction on Instagram late that night and when she woke up in the morning, she was flooded with messages from people inquiring about where she bought the product.
“From then on, something switched like a light switch,” she said. “I said, ‘I love my job, but this is not what I want to do with the rest of my life.’”
So, she went online and researched how to open a business. She went to Sun Biz, researched FDA rules and looked up how to print labels.
“I did the research myself,” she said. “I was so persistent that I was going to figure it out. If Kiehls and Lush did it, why can’t I do it.”
She obtained a business license, received FDA approval, ordered glass bottles and began making her product from her downtown Miami apartment. She created a website and began marketing her product.
“I would stay up until 4 or 5 in the morning and research how everyone else did it,” she said of other successful businesses.
She read about Facebook ads and the psychology behind consumerism.
She sells her shimmering body oil online and will be heading to her first retail location in a Miami spa this summer. She is planning a facial product next. The products are made from natural ingredients, not made in a lab.
“I can pay rent and then some,” she said.
Her company Eros Essential is a nod to her grandmother and her hometown.
“We had a huge garden in Albania,” she said. “One of the most important parts was the roses.”
Her grandmother would give everyone bouquets of roses from the garden. When she died, the family got rose tattoos in her honor.
If you scramble the letters of Eros, you get rose, she said. The Greek word also pays homage to her home country, which is located in the Mediterranean.
She sources items for her product from small towns. For instance, her almond oil comes from a small farm in Italy. Eventually, she wants to give back to those places.
“I want to be able to thank them by giving something back in return,” she said. “Like help them plant more almond trees for more almond oil.”
Her biggest goal is to bring her skincare line back home to Albania.
For more information, visit http://www.erosessentials.com