Even though I’ve been lucky enough to live on the North Shore most of my life, I continue to be in awe of the number of incredibly talented women that live here.
One day I was sitting at Starbucks talking eighth grade dinner dance details when I ran into Jen Bobay, founder of Jar Bar Makeup. I’ve followed Jen from afar since I heard about the launch of her cosmetics line three years ago. But to hear Jen talk about her brand, how its evolved, and the lessons she’s learned along the way is to know that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well among us.
Jen has always had a connection to the beauty world, first through her grandmother who styled people in her home and then after college when she decided to make cosmetics her career.
“I fell in love with cosmetics and was trained by a line that I loved and believed in,” Jen says. “But nearly every product irritated my skin.”
It wasn’t until after Jen gave birth to her son and was looking for an opportunity where she could work and still make him a priority that she decided to create her own mindful line of makeup.
Jen founded Jar Bar Makeup, a complete mineral makeup line that is free of parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, bismuth chloride, and talc.
“When I first decided to launch my company, I thought my business would be makeup application–teaching my friends and their daughters how to use makeup and what is in their products,” she explains. “It was somewhat of an accident that what we ended up marketing was the makeup itself.”
Like any new business owner, Jen found “shiny pennies” every where she looked, opportunities that may have sounded good on paper but maybe didn’t make sense for where she was at the moment.
“One day my husband said that we should get Jar Bar up on Amazon,” Jen says with a laugh. “This was a great idea, but I just was feeling busier than I had ever been and knew that I needed to refocus. It was time to take a step back and get some advice.”
Jen’s friends encouraged her to join an entrepreneurial club and she came across a newly formed one at The Lake Forest Shop.
“The day I went to my first meeting was the perfect storm,” Jen says. “There was a local magazine editor and photographer there and The Lake Forest Shop’s owner, Ellen Stirling, asked me if I would be interested in selling my makeup at her store. I jumped at the opportunity, but it was very important to me to figure out her customer’s needs and what I could do to meet them.”
Jen began introducing her products through a series of trunk shows and learned that her glow palette was a hit.
“We don’t carry my entire line at The Lake Forest Shop. We’ve customized what we offer to what Ellen’s clients like. In some place my lip glosses are the biggest seller, but Ellen’s customers prefer lipsticks.”
Jen credits much of her success to the collaborative network of women in her corner. “Ellen Stirling has been an incredible mentor to me,” she adds. “And along the way, different friends have stepped in and helped me with photos or my website. Working with women has been my favorite part of creating Jar Bar. My grandmother used to listen to women tell of their problems when she would be styling them. And when they would ask for advice, she’d say ‘I can’t fix that, but your lip gloss is amazing. Or, you’re glowing today.’ There is a real power to how makeup can make you feel, at every age. And it shouldn’t be just a mask…it should be benefitting your skin when you’re wearing it.”
Jen’s company continues to grow as she adds new colors to her palettes. She often finds inspiration in magazines, on the runway, or from the red carpet. She recently launched her Aspen palette for spring and it’s available for purchase at The Lake Forest Shop and online. You can find Jen at The Lake Forest Shop every Monday, Makeup Mondays, and alternating Thursdays and Saturdays.
When asked if there is anything she would have done differently in building her company, she shrugs with a smile. “No, there really isn’t. I think we always wish that what we know know we knew sooner, but I believe that timing is everything and we often learn our best lessons when we just allow things to happen.”
The Lake Forest Shop is located at 265 Market Square in Lake Forest, 847.234.0548, thelakeforestshop.com. You can learn more about Jen Bobay and Jar Bar Makeup at jarbarmakeup.com.