Startup Profile: Lexmetics
A few years ago, while working at a multinational retailer of beauty products, Summer 2021 Blackstone LaunchPad Fellow Lexus Smith Hale noticed a trend among the products carried in the store: only a select few were marketed towards people of color.
Hale struggled to find the right beauty products for her skin tone. To make matters more complicated, a recent diagnosis of an disease left her with a very limited list of ingredients she could allow in her skincare and makeup products. Frustrated by her lack of choice, Hale did what all great entrepreneurs do. She set out to solve the problem herself and launched Lexmetics, a clean, sustainable beauty brand for people of color.
Leaning on her management and entrepreneurship studies at the University of Central Florida, as well lessons learned from attending events and speaking with mentors as part of her campus Blackstone LaunchPad, Hale officially began her Lexmetics journey in 2020 with a series of customer discovery interviews, surveying countless women on the frustrations they encountered in today’s beauty market. It didn’t take long for her to confirm her hypothesis. Disappointed by a lack of products developed for a diverse array of complexions or made with cleaner ingredients, Hale’s interviewees quickly validated the need for a clean beauty line for people of color.
Living with an autoimmune disease, Hale learned the hard way that products with harsh ingredients can often cause sensitivity, breakouts, and even flare ups of the condition. She is committed to using “better-for-you” ingredients and practices that will benefit both her consumers and the planet more boradly. In addition to designing some of her products to be refillable, Hale is exploring every avenue when it comes to creating the packaging for her line, from aluminum to glass to biodegradable containers.
Though Lexmetics only began within the past year, Hale’s entrepreneurial aspirations started at a young age. “Growing up, I was really inspired by my great grandmother. She was a seamstress, and she designed a lot of my mom’s wardrobe in high school,” Hale recalls. “I had seen so many photos of clothes she made for her, and I really admired and looked up to that. Initially I was on the path of wanting to pursue fashion and become a designer one day, but then life changed and my interest in makeup grew, which is where I am today.”
She also credits her mom with helping her realize her full potential. Growing up in a single parent household, she watched her mom work hard to raise both her and her older sister. Seeing her mom attain success as an entrepreneur later in life inspired her to pursue her passions and put forth the same work ethic that she witnessed throughout her upbringing.
Dr. Cameron M. Ford, Hale’s former professor and Director of the University of Central Florida’s Blackstone LaunchPad, recalls her entrepreneurial development throughout her graduate studies. “I’ve worked with Lexus for over a year, and she has demonstrated remarkable growth both personally and professionally. She is courageous and coachable, and I’m confident that she will realize her vision for helping others.”
Hale’s desire to learn more about the startup process through UCF’s LaunchPad led her to apply for the Summer 2021 Cohort of the Blackstone LaunchPad Fellowship, an 8-week program providing student entrepreneurs with financial resources, mentoring, peer community, skill development workshops, and more. As part of the cohort, Hale has learned much about maintaining goals and holding herself accountable as a brand. She thinks the LaunchPad Fellowship is the perfect opportunity for founders to learn how to grow and expand their startups.
As for Lexmetics, Hale is currently finishing up the production planning for the first wave of products she hopes to launch this fall and is also in the process of raising funds to help her launch and grow the clean cosmetics brand. She envisions a future where cosmetics cater to a wider audience and hopes to see more Black-owned businesses in the beauty space making products that are clean, sustainable, and work for many different complexions.
“I would just love to see more versatility,” she says. “Even if it’s not a Black-owned beauty brand, my hope is that more brands can incorporate products that can be versatile enough to be used by people of color. I would like to see more variety and options that are more inclusive for us all.”