Published: Jan. 29, 2020 By

kelsey kinzer gaia glam leeds school of businessCU alumna and Founder of Gaia Glam, Kelsey Kinzer participated in a dual degree program, where she received an MBA in Marketing & Entrepreneurship and a Master’s in Theatre & Performance Studies. Graduate school was an intense experience where she worked hard to devote time to each department and yet, still felt like an outsider in both. Nevertheless, it was this push and pull that her venture came out of.  The reality is that the world runs on business.  

Kelsey described herself as an accidental entrepreneur. She never imagined starting a business in graduate school, but all that changed when she stumbled upon an idea.

“This needs to be a thing in the world and I can’t believe nobody’s done it yet.” 

Sustainable glitter gel

The summer before graduate school, Kelsey went to an outdoor music festival and looked for a glitter that was easy to smear on, all natural, and good for sensitive skin. When she saw there was no such product on the market, she decided to make her own. 

Gaia Glam comes from a very authentic place and incorporates both of her passions. With the theatricality of glitter and the business of it all, she knew that this was something she wanted to pursue. “Being an entrepreneur is having a creative vision and executing on it. I’ve been doing that for years as a theatre director.”   

With a couple product iterations and a lot of support, Gaia Glam is officially approaching their 1-year anniversary this February. 

Campus support

Heading into her last year of business school, Kelsey took advantage of all the great resources our campus has to offer. From taking entrepreneurship classes like Startup Execution to visiting the Entrepreneurship Center in the music school to pitching for Get Seed Funding, she was able to learn more about how she could better her business and incorporate her passion.

Kelsey also won the “Audience Choice” award at last year’s New Venture Challenge 11. This was an important milestone for her because “through the NVC process I learned how to articulate my vision and piece together all the components of my business I needed to work on to succeed.”

Tough journey 

Personal financial stability is one of the biggest challenges Kelsey has faced in starting Gaia Glam. The financial stress of having a business atop of life stress can be difficult for anyone to handle. Although she wanted to graduate and work on her passion, she also had to pay rent. 

“Sometimes entrepreneurship requires personal sacrifices like moving in with your mom and juggling multiple jobs." 

Currently, Kelsey works during the day at Madwire in Fort Collins, a marketing agency for small businesses. At night she devotes time to work on Gaia Glam where she is currently focused on finishing the website, creating content, and figuring out shipping logistics. She finds that the alignment between her clients at work and her own small business has helped her with the transition. 

Although it felt like a failure to leave Boulder and take some time for herself, Kelsey used this “oh shit moment” as a chance to build her life post graduate school.

Advice for students

“I think sometimes the entrepreneurial journey can get glorified a little and I think it’s important to talk about the struggles entrepreneurs deal with as well. It’s so fun to look at the amazing things an entrepreneur has done but you have to remember the pitch is just a small highlight reel of the best parts. We don’t get to see as much of the daily stressors that entrepreneurs face in this difficult field.”

What truly helped Kelsey get through the tough days where she just wanted to quit everything was knowing her “why” and thinking about the big picture. When you know your “why”, there is never a doubt in what you believe in and the kind of life you want to build. Understanding why starting the business fits into that grander vision you have for your life is key. 

New website launch 

Keep an eye out for Gaia Glam’s new website launch this spring! If you’d like to receive email updates on the launch, reach out to kelsey@gaiaglam.com.

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