This week’s Ambassador Feature is with Irene Patsalides, Mirenesse Cosmetics
2017 AusMumpreneur of the Year (Bronze)
Tell us about yourself and your business?
Mirenesse was started with my partner (in business and life!) Andrew and I in 1997. I am a pharmacist, and currently Managing Director, as well as Creative Product Development Director of Mirenesse Cosmetics.
We started with a single product (our Secret Weapon Mascara!), and have grown it to over 300 different makeup, skincare and now haircare products. I manage the day to day business, as well as develop every single one of our beauty products from scratch. I’m proud to say we now sell 1 mascara every 3 minutes around the world, and have since won more than 60 international beauty awards for our products.
What was your inspiration for your business?
I was working 70 hour weeks as a pharmacist, raising my daughter, and yet I would come home every night with mascara running down my face, and irritated eyes. I was working so hard, surely my makeup could at least be reliable! I believed that we deserved better.
So I decided to try and apply my knowledge to create a mascara with the features I wanted, which I was sure that millions of other women must have been having the same issues as me! I wanted it to be safe, non–irritating, plus give me long, full, healthy lashes, to last an entire day AND be easy to remove! A tall order, but after trying for 2 years, I created our now world famous and multi-Award Winning Secret Weapon 24hr Mascara.
Did you have any experience in running a business or in this industry before?
Not at all, and it’s been a huge learning curve, my gosh! I was just an honest pharmacist with an idea. I had to learn quickly that it was sink or swim, I made a lot of mistakes and learnt the hard way a lot the time. But I just had to pick myself up and keep going. I followed my gut instinct to make up for my lack of experience.
To be honest, the beauty industry is absolutely ruthless, I’ve had my ideas ripped off, stock stolen, and gone through many ups and downs. And when you’re up against the big multinationals, its not easy, big business treats small entrepreneurs like insects they want to squash, so you learn pretty quickly to land on your feet, become resilient or get out.
What’s your point of difference that makes your business special or unique?
Pretty simple really, we want to create the best beauty products using the most potent natural ingredients in combination with the safest clinically proven ingredients to deliver products that work on their promises. We work hard to create truly innovative products that will solve women’s beauty problems. Our business has grown on the great products we create and our hero products have a cult following that sustains our business.
What have you learnt about yourself since becoming an entrepreneur?
That I’m tougher than I thought, that I can survive, that S*#@ happens and you have to find a solution or another path, but you must love what you do and with that love you can solve the problem.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
Working with big businesses can be challenging, I’ve learnt that most of the time you have to do most of the work for them if you want to have a good business, unfortunately no–one is going to simply come along and do it for you.
The most challenging time for by business was in 2004, we were selling exclusively on TV shopping in Australia and the channel went broke, completely out of the blue, so we had to find other distribution avenues for our business and this was what moved us to pursue home shopping networks in the USA and Canada.
This was devastating to us at the time, because we had just spent $250k creating our brand new skincare range to which we had no distribution for and that meant we were going to lose our house and our business.
I pretty much, mailed a presentation to both QVC and HSN in the U.S., and HSN said yes and we flew to America to seal the deal. They initially gave us a small order, but on our first visit our mascara set sold out within the first 3 minutes, which was unheard of in the home shopping industry at the time, as usually mascara was treated as a free giveaway product!
What lessons has your business taught you about life?
When things go wrong, just pick yourself up and get going, “it’s not how hard you get hit, it’s how fast you get back up!“.
If you could go back to when you were starting your business and give your younger self some advice what would you tell her?
Learn how to use excel, focus more on less. Breathe! And be passionate, but don’t take things personally.
What’s next for your business?
We have a big year ahead, a lot of exciting new innovative products are being developed and we’re in the midst of working on entire new brand strategy, as well as some big collaborations with digital influencers that are in line with our demographic.
If you could change the world, and money was no object, what would you do?
Ensure everyone had food, a home, light and world peace!
To learn more about Irene and Mirenesse Cosmetics, please visit