Yara Shahidi, Megan Good, Chloe x Halle are all fans of SmilesShield, the pandemic-era beauty accessory blowing up Instagram. Entrepreneur couple Ernest Smiles and Barbara Smiles created the new must-have face mask that has already gained the approval of the beauty community and your favorite stars because it lets you flex your makeup skills while keeping droplets at bay.
“My wife is very glamorous and loves to wear make-up and wanted something to express her personality and her authenticity. Her desire to still look fly in the midst of the pandemic was the inspiration around the creation of the Smiles Shield,” says Ernest Smiles of the creative genius behind the brand.
True, there are similar face shields on the market, but SmilesShields has a sleek design, exceptional bling, and personalized touch that’s caught the attention of social media. Just scroll through its IG feed to see the melanated faces with “Black Lives Matter” emblazoned on their masks to pageant queens with mega-watt smiles shining safely. Ernest—a co-founder of multiple companies under the Smiles name and former corporate exec—and Barbara—Lead Strategist, Global Head of Employee Resource Groups & Diversity Engagement at Facebook—are no strangers to business. The business-oriented couple based in Los Angeles both take pride in receiving their MBA and credit much of their wins to successful relationships. HelloBeautiful caught up with them on how they mixed beauty, a pandemic, and their signature “4F” approach to create the supply and demand effect of SmilesShield.
HelloBeautiul.com: In your own words, what sets Smiles Shields apart from similar products on the market?
We invest and focus on great content for our brand identity and social media platforms. We invested in creating a customer-friendly website that allows easy access and quick orders. We also partnered with influencers and created a presence through our marketing and ads in creative ways to generate buzz and excitement. For example, one of the early supporters was Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson who posted our SmilesShield on her Instagram, which received the attention of journalist and TV commentator Roland Martin who later invited us to his #RolandMartinUnfiltered Daily Digital Show. Our secret sauce is the quality and uniqueness of our face shields that people automatically fall in love with.
HelloBeautiul.com: Most popular styles? Most unique customization?
Our popular styles come from our bedazzled line with the Stylish Bling; Luxury line with the Gold Shimmy Luxury & Bride Bedazzled; and Pageant line with the Chloe. The most unique customizations are created by adding chains, gemstones, and a lot of bling. Our uniqueness comes from allowing customers the ability to design their shield with a personal touch by adding accessories, bling around the shield, and-or name personalization, etc. I’m most proud of the overwhelming feedback we get from our customers who have a personal and emotional connection to their SmilesShield, which I’ve now dubbed the “Smiles Effect.”
HelloBeautiful: How were you able to get Smiles Shields in the hands of Yara Shahidi, Megan Good, and other A-list folks? What has their feedback been like?
My husband and I are obsessed with the customer experience and once we created a consistent rhythm, we started to get DMs from all types of people wanting to try our Shields. We were surprised that many customers would buy for their friends and family and it landed on famous faces like Sunny Hostin of The View who surprised us with a feature on her Instagram. She received a customized SmilesShield as a gift from a friend. We’ve also had hair stylists and make-up artists DM us directly to provide customized SmilesShield for their famous clientele like Yara Shahidi, Megan Good, Chloe x Halle. The same story goes for fashion industry pioneer and current global creative partner for MCM, Misa Hylton.
HelloBeautiful: How about the reaction from the beauty community?
Make-up artists, stylists, and fashionable people are loving the quality, designs, and the uniqueness of our SmilesShields. We receive constant feedback that people are always stopped on the street when they put our shield on because there isn’t anything else like this on the market. The fact that we’re bringing joy and spreading smiles to many during these hard times motivates us to double-down on creating the best face shield that is on the market.
HelloBeautiful: Your shields are obviously fashionable, but can you speak to their “safeness” when it comes to Covid? Have any health professionals given the cosign?
This is an additional face-covering option for people who want to add their personal touch with a face shield. The benefits include shielding your face from droplets, protecting your eyes and mucus membranes of your face. We are creating a one-stop-shop experience by offering the face shield and mask combo this month.
HelloBeautiful: Spill the tea on your upcoming collaboration with Real Housewives of Atlanta star Shamea Morton, please! When does it launch?
Shamea Morton will have her own signature lines with a mask and face shield combination set. Her line will consist of 3 options with some of the proceeds going to a few non-profit organizations of her choice. We’re excited to launch in mid-late March.
HelloBeautiful: What is the most rewarding part about being a couple in business together? What is the most challenging part?
We approach everything like a team sport and focus heavily on each other’s strengths. We have weekly brainstorming meetings with the team where we allow space for 30 minutes for everyone on the team to throw out ideas, provide feedback and-or share what’s working well. We have a continuous improvement process from our backgrounds in Six Sigma (Ernest is green belt certified and Barbara is yellow belt certified) to continue to improve our designs, looks, and functionality. For us, we created a 4F approach that’s centered around: focus, faith, family, and future.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.
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