Have you ever felt like you didn’t know what you wanted to do with your life? Traditional higher education might not be the best fit for you and you’re struggling to find your passion in life? If this sounds like you, Stormi Steele is the entrepreneur you need to read about, like ASAP.  

She went from working in a salon to owning a multimillion-dollar beauty brand and she’s just getting started. I sat down with Stormi to learn all about her past, how she balances a fast-growing business while being a mother, wife and friend. If you want to learn all about Canvas Beauty, keep reading below:  

You were in college at Mississippi State University to get your degree in art. After realizing that wasn’t for you, you attended cosmetology school through an apprenticeship where you received your license in natural hair. Take us back to this time in your life and talk about what you were going through on your entrepreneurial journey at this point.  

Going to school is not something that was truly my heart’s desire. After I graduated high school, I went straight into the military doing basic training. When I came home, my momma had already put together my college schedule. And that’s what you were supposed to do coming from a non-stoplight town — go to school and get a degree. 

The closer I got to graduating, the more depressed I became because it was finally setting in on me that I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. And what I just given all my time to was not my heart’s desire. This led to me becoming a suicidal college student and the night before I planned to end it all, I had a dream.  

And that dream brought me so much peace. In that dream, God revealed to me my purpose — which was to do hair — the name of my business: Canvas Beauty, and my mission statement: To help women around the world feel beautiful inside and out. 

I woke up with a newfound lease on life. I dropped out of college. And instead of spending the last year taking the few classes I needed for my degree — I decided to spend that year getting my cosmetology license. At the time, I was seeking peace. Nothing else mattered! 

The primary ingredient in your hair care line is cayenne pepper. Most people put that on food so how did you discover it would be beneficial to healthy hair?  

Once I became a stylist, I primarily did natural hair and extensions. And overtime, I realized a lot of my customers were coming to me to cover up issues they were having with their hair, like alopecia, traction alopecia, thinning hair, etc. Not only did I want to help them gain their confidence back, but I also wanted to offer something proprietary to my customers salon experience. And that was hair oil. 

Because I obsessed over it so much, I began to have dreams about the product, formula, and ingredients — and I’d often wake up in the middle of the night with an ingredient stuck in my head with no idea why. One was cayenne pepper. And when I researched the benefits, I discovered that it has immense benefits for hair growth. What cayenne pepper does is increase blood flow to the hair follicles, which in turn produces rapid hair growth and overall scalp health. So, after many iterations, formulas and tests, cayenne pepper became the star ingredient. 

Many women focus on hair length over health, but even before becoming a hairstylist you valued healthy hair overall. How were you able to get your own hair to a level that you liked and how were you able to do the same for your customers? 

I’ve always led with the ideology that length means nothing if your hair isn’t healthy. So I’ve always prioritized health over length. If your hair is healthy, the length will come. Another thing that’s important to remember is that hair is always growing. It grows from the roots; it breaks from the ends. So, in order to even have long hair, it has to be healthy — or else you won’t retain your length. 

I was able to reach my own hair health goals by solely focusing on maintaining a healthy scalp and practicing low manipulation. Protective styles were key for me too, and I practiced all the same with my own clients. 

While working at a hair salon you were able to get your hair to a healthy state with the hair serum you created. This led to you being able to get your own salon. Talk about what you learned during your time as a salon owner. 

During my time as a salon owner, I learned that customers deserve the best of you. I was never a stylist who would be working on more than 1 client at a time, and I never made my clients wait more than 15 minutes. 

I grew up in a traditional salon atmosphere where you spend your entire Saturday at a salon waiting your turn. Even though the nostalgia of that is a beautiful thing in the salon world, I personally wanted to provide a more custom and tailored experience, and by doing so, I was able to see tremendous success. 

At some point your love for your hair products overcame your passion of owning a hair salon. What was the deciding factor in closing your salon and what did you do to improve your hair care line during this time?  

After doing hair for 8 years consecutively, I reached what most stylists reach — and that’s the burnout. It got to a point where I just wasn’t happy going into the salon anymore and I was slowly losing my lust for the trade. I’ve always been big on following the flow of life and seeking peace. And so, I took a trip to New York for my birthday in August of 2018.  

That trip to NY was very eye-opening to me. As I stood on the balcony of my hotel room, I was able to see all the skyscrapers, and I immediately became inspired by what humans can build. My mindset was that someone at some point had the vision to create all of this. Someone had that vision. Their vision was grand, yet it was right in front of me. And with that knowledge, and with that drive. Somebody could think all of this and help make NY what it is today. 

So why can’t I do what’s in my soul? And at that time, it was to solely focus on my “Hair Blossom Serum”. The moment I got back home, I took another leap of faith, I canceled every appointment that I had. I built my website from scratch, and I put my one single solitary SKU of the Hair Blossom Serum on the website, and I gave it everything I had. And I’m so thankful that I did because it has landed me where I am today. 

One year into selling your own hair care products you made your first million in sales. When you think back to your path from leaving school with $800 to your name, to essentially being a millionaire in the same year, what did you learn during those early years as an entrepreneur that you will never forget?  

I learned that anything that I could imagine could be real. And all I had to do was believe enough to take the first step. I developed a Dream Girl mantra that I live by to this day, and it is: “You can do whatever you want to do. And you can be whatever you want to be. Dream, Girl.” 

And even now, if I were to ever have my moments of doubt, I’d go right back to that mantra, and will my desires into existence through my unwavering actions rooted in those beliefs. 

Canvas Beauty Brand went viral a few years ago unexpectedly which caused many problems for your business. What happened and how did your company bounce back from it?  

When Canvas went viral, it was something that I had prayed for, but not necessarily prepared for. And to be honest, it’s kind of hard to prepare for virality because you never know what level of it you will experience. As for us, we experienced it at the highest level, which I am so thankful for. I’m talking jumping into selling millions per month overnight.  

We got behind on getting orders out to customers in a timely manner because from the foundation, we were just not ready to handle that demand. I was able to bounce back from that by grinding through it, building a true solid foundation in real time, and every day just focusing on being greater than I was the day before. 

My motto became to never learn the same lesson twice, and to make the impossible possible. I feel that in business you’re learning and you’re growing every day, and I’m proud to say that all of the growing pains that I’ve had thus far have landed me exactly where I am today: A place in which I am proud of. 

What are some things you implemented to improve your business model?  

Expanding into the body category had the most significant impact on our business model. It opened up our brand to a whole new world of customers and problems to solve. We went from helping customers with alopecia & thinning hair to helping solve issues from eczema, dry/ashy skin and more. 

We always dabbled in the body space, but once I launched the Body Glaze, everything changed all over again just like the Hair Blossom Serum. But this time, we did things correctly. We focused on our margins, supply chain, shipping speed, and scale.  

I wasn’t about to make the same mistakes twice. I had been blessed with a second opportunity at massive success, and I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t do things the right way this time around. 

You’ve spoken about spending $100 on your first social media ad on Instagram and Facebook, leading to $15k in sales within days. Talk to us about the importance of running ads as a business owner and how often your business currently runs ads.  

When I started running ads on social media, we saw an insane amount of return. Generating thousands in revenue off of a few hundred dollars in ads. Part of this was the virality of our brand, part of this was our skit-style commercials that performed well, and part of this was just good old fashioned right-place-right-time luck. 

However, the ad game quickly became one of our biggest weaknesses. On a scale, we increased to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per month on ads. There was a point where just about every person on Facebook in the US had at a minimum scrolled past our ad in the last 30 days, that’s how much we were spending. 

But with increased spend comes decreased efficiency. I went from thousands in sales with a few hundred in spend to only selling $100,000 worth of product after spending $200,000 in ads. And that doesn’t even take into account the cost of the product, the labor to create it, shipping, overhead costs, etc. 

We saturated the market. We were spending 50% of our monthly revenue on ads alone to keep the momentum going. I knew something had to change. After seeing this second spike of success with the Body Glaze, my team and I changed our entire strategy when it comes to advertising. 

We built a model that doesn’t rely on paid ads, and to this day, we spend less than $50,000 per month on ads and generate $5M in sales — about 1%. 

Once you realized you had taken your business as far as you could on your own, you decided to hire a marketing company to further push the brand to new markets. What have you learned about marketing a business since hiring them?  

I’ve always been a naturally gifted marketer at the end of the day. Solving a problem and selling a solution to that problem has never been an issue for me. The Hair Blossom Serum and Body Glaze were my inventions and my creations. And framing those solutions is second nature to me. 

What I needed help with is amplifying that message. The numbers, the technical, the data to tell us where to buy more ads, what platform, and with what strategy. I went through probably about 5 different marketing agencies before finding one I could trust. Just too many broken promises. But it’s a lesson I’m thankful for because now we evaluate every partner with utmost scrutiny, and that lesson is invaluable in the world of business. 

Canvas Beauty Brand is currently available in Walmart, Sally Beauty, CVS, Target and on your website. Talk to us about the process of getting your brand in retail stores.  

My process with getting into retail was a bit unique being that I was approached by someone with connections to get me into those stores. Just about every entrepreneur dreams of walking into a big store and seeing their products on the shelf — and I was ecstatic! 

With some help, I was able to be introduced to just about all of the big box stores and get my products placed on their shelves. While I’m so thankful for the opportunity and the experience, I found out quickly that retail wasn’t for me, especially coming from dominating the world of e-commerce. 

In those stores, there are numerous fees, markdowns, clearance, and sales that you sometimes have no control over. And even through you could find my products in 5,000 stores around the nation, it got to a point where I was losing a lot by being in there. From the margins to the markdowns, retail almost crushed me. Which is why Body Glaze is only available online today. 

What is your current favorite hair and body product from your business?  

My current favorite hair product from Canvas is the Hair Blossom Serum. It changed everything. And my favorite body product has to hands-down be the Body Glaze. It changed everything once again, and I’m so thankful for its amazing success. 

I love that you always use every product Canvas Beauty Brand sells on yourself before officially adding it to the collection. What product would you say took the longest to get approved? What about it made it challenging to perfect? 

Creating the Body Glaze and releasing it to the world was such a long process. I knew from the jump I wanted to create an incredibly-nourishing, ultra-moisturizing product that was unlike anything on the market. Not butter, not lotion, but something in between that and Vaseline.  

Something so unique and memorable it would be sure to make an impact. So, I went to work on the formula. And after much trial and error, I finally landed on a formula that uses a MUCH higher percentage of good-for-you ingredients like Vitamin E and Jojoba Oil than anything on the market. 

I then searched far and wide for a fragrance that would be the icing on top. And sure enough, I settled on our original Donut fragrance. I branded Body Glaze as icing for the skin, released it to the world after a year of sitting on it. It was slow to ramp up, but reviews started to come in extremely positive. And the rest is history! 

In 2021 you and your husband welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world after struggling with fertility issues over the years. Talk to us about your experience with IVF and you felt learning you were finally expecting your first child.  

Having a child has always been a dream of mine, a dream that I had also always believed would have been unachievable for me due to my diagnosis of endometriosis. The IVF process was very challenging both physically and emotionally, especially when you are someone who wants a positive outcome so badly, but deep down feel it might not be in the cards for you. 

So, when I learned that my first attempt at IVF was successful, and I was pregnant — I was beyond ecstatic as one could imagine. My son is my greatest gift and my biggest blessing, and the accomplishment that I am most proud of. 

How have you balanced motherhood, being a wife and entrepreneurship? What tips do you have for any Galore readers looking to do the same?  

I’m able to balance everything by maintaining a strong why. Everything I do in my life is connected to the betterment of my family. And with a belief-system and “why’s” that are strong, I’m able to always stay grounded and make the best decision for us as a whole.  

When it’s family time, it’s family time. When it’s time to go to work, I go to work and enjoy it, because I know it’s for my family. I’m always trying to think of the fact that everything comes back to family. And so, in that sense, it’s not really true balance, it’s connected in one ecosystem. 

And when I say family, I don’t just mean the people in my life I share the most DNA with. I mean my tribe. I mean my staff and my team. Everything I do in my life is for those around me. Those who came into the inner circle, proved themselves, and stayed through the thick and thin. 

I do it for them, and I do it for the generations that will come after me who will be able to look back and appreciate all the hard work I put in so that they could have a bigger, bolder life with more opportunities. 

What makes your brand stand out?  

What makes us stand out the most is that we focus on the entirety of a person’s canvas. For us being a beauty brand isn’t just about how you can sit in a category, but more so how you can be a benefit to a person’s life, to their story, to their journey. 

We lead with people first and problem solving first. And that makes us unique because we’re always thinking about the person and how our products can be beneficial to their canvas. 

Our customers are the heartbeat of our company. We’re not just trying to make unique products that smell amazing, are unique and deliver results, we’re trying to help people feel beautiful inside and out. 

A few months ago, Canvas Beauty Brand made over $3 million in revenue, which is amazing! Looking back, how would you say this milestone was accomplished?  

I’m still in disbelief when I look back to where we were a year ago to now. It’s almost hard to accept we sold $3M last month and are on track for $5M this month or next. It all boils down to having an amazing team, to dedication, to staying in the game, to being steadfast, all combined with the incredible opportunity that has been TikTok and getting on TikTok Shop.  

The insane virality of social media supercharged our success and allowed us to reach new heights we only dreamed about just last year. Our motto is making the impossible possible. And we did that. It truly blows my mind that we were able to accomplish such an amazing feat while moving into our new 30,000 sq. ft. warehouse and to keep up with capacity. But again, we make the impossible possible! 

When your brand hits its $5 million goal you will be having a transformative Canvas Makeover. Talk to us about what this makeover will entail and what made you decide to do it.  

Being that we are growing into being a lifestyle brand, the ideology of canvas itself is so important to us, we wanted to take the opportunity to make women feel good about their entire canvas, from their hair to their skin, their everything. We thought it would be a good idea to kick off what we’re all about by giving away a transformative Canvas Makeover. 

Doing makeovers is something I’ve always been passionate about and something I’ve always done. When I was a stylist, I give away free makeovers to women. So, this is a way for me to get back to my roots and spread the love of embracing your own canvas on a larger scale. 

What’s next for Stormi Steele and Canvas Beauty Brand? Do you have anything you can exclusively share with Galore?  

For me personally? I’m just obsessed with work and growing what we’re working on. I’d love to be able to take my first real vacation in years sometime before Summer’s end. I’ll have to keep you updated on that one! 

But we as Canvas Beauty have so many exciting projects coming up. We’ve been taking baby steps toward becoming a lifestyle brand and we’re almost ready to enter the “home” with candles, soaps, cleaners and more! 

We also have a bunch of exciting beauty projects in the works, like the long-awaited Lip Glaze and bringing back our super popular Body Mists. We just came out with our Body Drops, our body oils, which have been a huge success. We also have TONS of more Body Glaze scents in the works, all of which go through several rounds of rigorous evaluation before we give them the green light. 

In short, we’re out to canvas the world and help people feel beautiful inside and out. We’re currently looking into what an international expansion would look like, and how we can better serve our customers day in and day out.  

Because right now, we’re arguably the fastest growing beauty company in the world. And we’re on a journey to become the next Billion-dollar lifestyle brand. I know it sounds crazy, but – back to our mission statement, we make the impossible possible! 


Feature Editor: Taylor Winter Wilson (@taylorwinter)

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