My Advice on Building a Successful Business: Don’t Give Up

Close up headshot of girl smiling
By Melissa Arpino ’20CCPS

Life is stressful; skincare shouldn’t be.

With that motto in mind, I started my vegan skincare line, Stripped Beauty, in my junior year while earning my Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising Communications at St. John’s University. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit; I did not want to work in an agency setting, so I started brainstorming ideas in between classes.

I decided on the name Stripped Beauty because I was initially uncertain if I wanted to pursue a business in skincare or makeup, so I kept it broad. “Stripped” has two meanings for me: stripping skincare down to the basics—and stripping myself of the negativity in my life as I entered a new chapter. 

I started developing my skincare line on the weekends. I would drive to my home upstate and work alongside my mom, a cosmetic chemist and the founder of Hudson Valley Skin Care

Once I completed a few products, I started selling them at Artist & Fleas marketplace in Brooklyn, NY, on the weekends; it turned out to be a huge hit! I even got some press from PopSugar magazine—which was the momentum I needed to stay inspired and motivated. 

Stripped Beauty is a simple approach to skincare. Everything is done in-house—including formulation, manufacturing, and shipping—to reduce our carbon footprint and keep our prices affordable. 

Skincare products line on white background


The advice I give to students and aspiring entrepreneurs is to keep going.

Know that success does not happen overnight; it takes time, and you might feel discouraged. However, it will be successful if you want and believe in something. Listen and learn from other business owners and never be afraid to push boundaries and collaborate with others.

Consider the power of building a strong community. I have about 100 customers with whom I am constantly in contact. They also double as my product testers, and their input is invaluable as  I continuously tweak and improve my formulas.

White patches with purple border with the letters SB.


Have a small business success story? Drop a line at [email protected]

Girl sitting and smiling at table with her skincare products line.

Melissa Arpino ’20CCPS

St. John's Alumna

I started Stripped Beauty in 2018 while still in college. I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I knew I did not want to work in an agency setting, so I started playing around with ideas in-between classes. I decided on "Stripped Beauty" because I wasn't sure if I wanted to do skincare or makeup, so I kept it broad. "Stripped" came from two meanings, one business and one personal: stripping skincare back down to the basics, and stripping myself of the negativity in my life, entering a new chapter.