We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Clinesmith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
Having a strong foundation is the most important thing and who you have on your team and in your life will make and break you every single time. Also, Bootstrapping advice doesn’t work most of the time, unless you already have access to credit or capital or you come from a privileged background. The original concept behind “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” Was that it was supposed to be this laughably impossible thing that no one can actually do. Yet the entrepreneurship community got a hold of that idea and ran with it. Be careful who you give equity to and be careful who you trust. It’s funny how every business or brand owner I know has a story about a former business partner who wasn’t pulling their weight and tried to drag the one who was down when they were confronted about it or asked to leave. With the right people supporting you and working with you, You can accomplish anything. Unfortunately, like many others, I had to learn this the hard way and then rebuild from scratch.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am the editor in Chief of Vampyre Magazine, co-owned by Father Sebastiaan, I also manage Patti Negri’s online presence and store and the official Endless Night Vampire Ball storefront for Father Sebastiaan. I founded and run Vampyre Cosmetics LLC, Occult Cosmetics LLC & Jane Austen/Regency Cosmetics.
I’ve always known that working for myself was the way I had to go. I’m neurodivergent, diagnosed Autistic & ADHD and regular jobs were very difficult for me despite my ambition and work ethic being very high. I started my first company with my ex boyfriend and his dad in 2006 when I was 19. It was called The Application Gateway or TAG and it was honestly ahead of its time and I didn’t know what I was doing yet as CEO so it didn’t go anywhere. But I think it’s cool that we basically designed what a modern smart phone App Store looked like before smart phones even existed.
I started a makeup line with my ex-best friend in 2011. After 7 years, we experienced rapid exponential growth, made several missteps and had issues with manufacturers not fulfilling promises and ultimately she and I parted ways and I shuttered that business. 3 years later, my husband Joseph Keens (we just got married in New Orleans at the Endless Night Vampire Ball on October 30th.) started his own manufacturing company, Mythosis Manufacturing to help me fill old orders. I sent out all of that product that I couldn’t fill because of of the issues in 2018 in August & September of this year. He spent most of his 20s working in factory jobs doing quality control and as a result of that experience, he helped me streamline every part of my business process. Where before we had issues, now we have a solid foundation and can fill new orders quickly.
The experiences from my first line also taught me a lot about how to do production properly, we have a license with Vampire Vineyards for our VAMPIRE WINE lipsticks by Vampyre Cosmetics LLC and those keep selling out. I also design makeup for Nikki Lipstick & PinupGirl Clothing.
Almost every business owner I know has faced a similar story of growth, fall from grace and redemption. I think it’s a natural part of the process and something we don’t talk about a lot. I’ve also talked to many brand owners since that trouble we had in 2018 and many of them said, “oh, we’ve had the same problems with manufacturers.” Welp, that would have been nice to know before, so I want to be transparent about that so others know they aren’t alone. As long as you stick with your values and maintain integrity, in the long run, people will see who you really are and the right people will stick by you.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite place to take people is this specific spot in Palos Verdes, it’s a cliff that you can walk a little ways down behind some brush and just look straight down at the ocean from 300 feet up. It’s never busy and it’s always beautiful. On an especially clear day, you can also see downtown Los Angeles way in the distance.
Usually, we also hit up Wenzdays Party at Bar Sinister run by my friend Lyssa Slattery who also manages Bar Sinister, the weekly goth club that happens at Boardners on Saturday Nights.
There’s also a dock along Pacific Coast Highway that has a stairway that walks down to the beach. It’s just south of Gladstones restaurant in between Santa Monica & Malibu.
My favorite thing about California besides the diversity of people and food is definitely the landscapes. You can be in desert, mountains ocean, all of it and it’s all about an hour from Los Angeles.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband, Joseph Keens who started his own manufacturing company to help me fulfill products I couldn’t fill with big manufacturers who now makes custom products for celebrities in Los Angeles.
Linkedin: Rachel Clinesmith
An Ethereal Fire (Chris Koeppen) is the photographer for the main image
The one of myself and Joseph Keens is Whiskey Shotz Photography( Seth Neuffer)