Patrice Peck & Nefertari Adams are the co-founders of CRÈME, an online platform that provides on-demand beauty services that empower professional women to realize and elevate to the greatest versions of themselves.
Their customer segment consists of multi-cultural women with career-focused lives and ambitious professional aspirations who understand the importance of beauty services in their busy lives.
Not only is CRÈME focused on providing exemplary beauty services to their clients, they’re also intent on empowering and educating beauty professionals so that they go forth and innovate the beauty industry for the better.
Name: Patrice Peck & Nefertari Adams
Ages: Both 28
Hometown: Bridgeport, CT / Harlem, NY
New York, NY Since: 5 Years / Lifelong Resident
How did you start out in your career?
Patrice: The first chapter of my professional career was all about journalism and new media, with a focus on the areas that were disrupting the traditional ways of the industry. I held several positions like blogger, news reporter, pop culture writer, multimedia journalist and web editor, and contributed primarily to publications and outlets publishing content for and by audiences of color.
My years spent in this field taught me about the importance of embracing disruption, growing from failure and moving fast, as well as the need to consider the experience, feedback and behavior of the consumer (in this case, the audience).
Nefertari: Following my graduation from Howard University in 2008, I was recruited to work for Merrill Lynch and began working there just two months prior to the financial crisis that ruined lives and stagnated the economy for years to come. As a fresh graduate, and pretty low on the corporate ladder, I would say that this experience taught me not to take opportunities for granted, to be proactive and to speak up.
How did you come up with the idea for CRÈME?
Patrice: Prior to developing the CREME idea, I was the founder of a startup called Fussy, a continuing education platform for beauty professionals looking to enhance their careers. Our learning about the pain points beauty professionals were facing in obtaining new clients and observing the rise of the on-demand economy resulted in a pivot that led to CRÉME.
Coming from the banking world and the media world, respectively, Nefertari and I had discovered a need for a more convenient way for professional working women to access quality beauty services and maintain their personal appearances without disrupting their busy lives.
When did you first realize you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
Patrice: Since childhood, I’ve been a creator. Whether I was fashioning a ball gown out of newspaper, producing a backyard musical with my neighborhood friends, or editing and distributing my own ‘zine, I’ve always loved the limitless process of brainstorming, collaborating with other creators, making something out of nothing, and then inviting others to engage in the final result.
As a journalist I was able to build stories brick by brick, stacking together facts, sourcing interviews, and utilizing my own writing voice, style, and other elements. Now I do the same, however, instead of a literal story we are now constructing a reputable, noteworthy brand. Different industries but very similar approaches.
What advice can you give to young people looking to launch a startup?
Nefertari: Brand, brand, brand! In order to truly be successful in any business, I always tell young people to first determine what their own personal brands are and ask themselves if the brand they are selling is representative of who they want to be. Our brands are the most important things we have, and Patrice can attest that when making decisions, I always go back to how these decisions align with our brand first and foremost.
Patrice and I took a lot of time to determine what our own brands were and then developed a CRÈME brand: from the font, to the color scheme, to the way pictures are displayed on the website. The smallest details are the ones people often forget and don’t realize that sometimes it is those small details that can set you apart from the competition. Nothing is too small in my mind for it to make a difference.
What were your best resources when it came to launching your business?
Nefertari: When starting CRÈME, our best resources were each other. Patrice has an amazing background in Digital Journalism, having earned her Masters Degree from NYU, while I’m a 2016 MBA graduate from the Wharton School. We really wanted to understand what strengths and resources we each had in order to pinpoint the areas in which we would both need to learn and grow. Outside of that, Patrice is a lover of different types of entrepreneur podcasts and has since gotten me hooked!
I would say another one of the most important resources when starting a business has to be researching the opportunity down to its simplest form. For us, that included using Census Bureau data, research reports from major publications and always staying up-to-date on current events, not only our industry, but also ancillary industries that have the potential to spill over into our business. This gathering of information is a continual process and only helps in being better prepared for whatever questions that might arise when presenting the idea to others.
Lastly, one should never underestimate the resources within their own networks. Patrice and I have cultivated some amazing relationships over the years and they have served as resources in so many different ways. From mentors to sponsors to just simply having the ability to cold-call people from our alma-maters, people respect persistence and so we persistently seek out those who can help us to grow and thrive.
Why did you decide to launch your business in New York?
Patrice: New York City is hands-down the beauty hub of the United States, with Los Angeles coming in second. It made sense to launch CRÈME in New York City because I already had developed relationships and built a strong following of local beauty professionals through Fussy. Also, Nefertari and I both helmed our respective banking and journalism careers here, so our professional and personal connections also reside here. And in a city like New York City, one’s networks are definitely social capital.
Which tools do you find most useful for your business today?
Patrice: Instagram for sure. Given that the platform centers on aesthetic imagery, social networking and content marketing, it has been the perfect environment in which to cultivate a community of early adopters and evangelists.
What is a typical workday like for you?
Patrice: One of the things I love most about being an entrepreneur is that no day is the same. One day, Nefertari and I are working with a team of CRÈME Creative Artists, models, stylists and photographers to produce an all-day photo shoot; and the next, we are pitching to a room of venture capitalists. A typical day doesn’t really exist in entrepreneur-ism.
Best part of your entrepreneurial career so far?
Patrice: There have been two major moments:
1. One is a daily moment, in which I look back at not only how far the company has come in the past 2 years–pivots included, but also my own personal growth as an entrepreneur and business person.
2. The moment Nefertari and I became co-founders. Before her, I was navigating what often times felt like a handmade boat in the midst of a tumultuous ocean. Sometimes, the only thing to get one founder through the darker days (or, what Seth Godin calls “the dip”) is having a co-founder who shares a passion and vision for the company and whose skill sets and strengths complement your own. Simply put, their involvement helps to confirm that you are not, in fact, insane/silly/delusional for setting down such a risky and unpredictable path.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Nefertari: I am confident that, in five years, Patrice and I will be leading a hugely successful beauty business, continuing to grow our brand and our professional acumen. We have developed within CRÈME a culture that truly represents who we are and what we value.
That process was truly a turning point in our recognizing the amazing potential our company has, simply because the bottom line is not the main objective for us.
Being of service to others is what truly leaves a mark in this life, and if we are able to be true to our mission, our culture and to our constituents, there is no way that in the next five years CRÈME won’t be a hugely successful venture for us that allows us to spread our wings and soar!
What advice would you give your 20 year old self?
Nefertari: I would tell my 20 year-old self the same things I tell myself now: “Stay positive. Everything always works itself out.” I remember my 20 year-old self being at Howard University, anxious about one thing or another, and pondering what my business major should be because it would “shape the rest of my entire life.”
While having a focus is always important, there are so many pivots that I could never have foreseen. At the end of the day, I always learned more and met people through these life pivots. By being gracious and willing to accept the path, I am where I am today. I truly believe the best is yet to come and by continuing to stay positive and trusting in my journey, I know there will never be anything that could make me give up.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Nefertari: The best advice I have ever received is to always be the very best version of myself. Energy attracts energy and so if we are continuously seeking to be the absolute best versions of ourselves we are allowing others to do the same around us. Patrice and I live that motto every single day simply because it makes us gel better with one another and it allows those around us to fully understand who we are are what we are about.
Where are you favorite places to eat in New York?
Patrice: That’s a pretty long list, but I’ll kick it off with the following: Schmorgasburg, St. Marks Place, Africa Kine, Xians Famous Foods, Fette Sau, Santos Anne, Spot Desserts, Chinatown, Peaches, King Noodle, Diner, Mission Chinese Food, mom and pop Caribbean and West African spots in Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy and Flatbush, Gyu Kaku, and Nitehawk Cinema.
Nefertari: Shopping in New York City is unlike shopping anywhere else. Every shopping location has its own unique flavor and style. From the hustle and bustle of Soho to the sleek elegance of Fifth Avenue, there are so many different options. Whether it’s a tiny boutique or Bergdorf, you can never go wrong. For me, the best shopping experiences are those that end with a spa experience.
Patrice: I love exploring neighborhoods with very distinct cultures and flavors, like Williamsburg, Flushing, Crown Heights, Lower East Side, Chinatown (can you tell that I spend most of my time below Chelsea/Flatiron?) I also recently got into visiting the local beaches and the parks.
This summer, I spent an amazing day in Long Island at Long Beach with a good friend. And days spent at the parks this season included having a sunny picnic with my good college friends and sisters and participating in a photo shoot around the gorgeous reservoir and sobering graveyard in Ridgewood Park. There’s nothing like summertime in the city. Nothing!
Favorite part about living in New York City?
Nefertari: Growing up in Harlem, I was introduced from an early age to my city and all it had to offer. I have always been in love with New York City’s rich culture and diversity. I honestly cannot give a favorite part of the city as there are too many to name.
I love to learn and so for me, my favorites parts of the city are those moments when I can attend the ballet at Lincoln Center, enjoy a show during Summer Stage at Central Park, visit the holiday window displays on Fifth Avenue, or learn more about Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes and the many Kings and Queens of Harlem. There are just far too many opportunities to explore in New York for anyone to ever become bored.
If you could have lunch with any entrepreneur in the world who would it be?
Nefertari: While I would be eager to have lunch with the greatest entrepreneurs of our time–including Oprah–I would love to have lunch with other women entrepreneurs in developing nations who are really building businesses from the ground up with very little capital and infrastructure to do so.
I am inspired by so many of these different women, whose main goal is to provide for their families and make it so their children might have greater opportunities than themselves. These women are the most hard working and selfless of them all and I have seen it first hand, particularly being of Nicaraguan descent.
The struggles and lack of opportunity in some of these areas keep me grounded and grateful at all times; knowing, that for every struggle we may have, they pale in comparison to the real hard work of others around the world. We are all but a piece of such a larger ecosystem and to be able to give opportunities to beauty entrepreneurs through CRÈME is tremendously humbling.
Download Our Free eBook for even more entrepreneurial advice
The Young American Guide To Finding Your Entrepreneurial Passion Written especially for young, aspiring entrepreneurs who work day jobs, live with their ‘rents, or are just stuck in a rut. The 27-page easy-to-digest book is available for sharing, downloading, and printing. Inside you’ll learn hacks for discovering your passion-fueled business and how to research, plan and work on your idea while you balance adulthood. Get it here.