I’m Shareta and I make imaginative cosmetics for my line, Black Widow Balm. I live and work in Pearland, Texas.
Before starting Black Widow Balm, I worked as a web designer. My hobbies were cooking and drawing. While I liked my job, I enjoyed my hobbies more. One day, I realized that as I grow older I don’t want to sell my creativity to a boss, nor do I want to work out of desperation. I took a long hard look at what I was doing and wondered if I had some skill of my own that I could use to start a business. And if I didn’t already have that skill, could I learn it?
In the meantime, I switched from a career in web design to a job selling books. I didn’t want to see my career change as a step down from where I was as a web designer, but admittedly, it was a big change financially. My new job was harder for me to accept, but it gave me the ability to focus on living with only what I needed to survive. Then one day, I remembered reading something about how women, even in difficult financial times, would give up many things before they’d give up their lipstick. I realized I felt that way, too. At the end of the month, I could always find a little money left over to buy myself a tube of lip balm or a bottle of cute nail polish. If that was how I felt, then maybe there were countless others who felt the same way. Cosmetics must be powerful, I thought, if even I could scrape together a bit of money to buy them.
I decided to learn everything I could on the subject of making cosmetics the old-fashioned way. I mixed nourishing ingredients for face and body with bold colors and scent. My first creation was a purple lip balm I called Ursula, after a very memorable character from One Hundred Years of Solitude. Soon after, I made Voodoo, Kiss of Death and Orb – all named for the magic in life you can’t actually prove.
When I launched my Etsy shop in May 2012, I felt like I was taking an active role in writing the next chapter of my career. I found my hobbies were hints on what I should do next. My skills became the tools I use to make, market and grow Black Widow Balm. By being a seller on Etsy, I’ve found that I’m good at making lip balm. I’m learning how to successfully run a small business, and I’m happy to find that there’s a deeper purpose in my career and life.
All photographs by Black Widow Balm.