A local startup business operator did not expect to win anything at this year’s Risk It: Indiana competition.
Dawn Andrews, owner of Garb2Art cosmetics in Columbus, not only captured first place but also garnered the audience choice award at the competition sponsored by the Southeast Indiana Small Business Development Center.
“I was really in shock because there were some pretty solid businesses there and things that were much more technical than what I have,” Andrews said. “I was certain that one of the other companies was going to win.”
Garb2Art sells cosmetic products made by Andrews that are packed in recyclable products such as newspapers.
Risk It: Indiana was developed to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit and provide a showcase and an opportunity for feedback that could help inventors successfully promote their concept.
Andrews won prizes valued at $2,500, which included sessions with an accountant, a patent attorney and a Web page designer, and free admittance to any Southeast ISBDC training event for a year.
She also won $250, or half of the event’s gate receipts, for being selected the audience choice winner from the May 15 event.
The competition included seven Indiana entrepreneurs, including two others from Columbus, who gave five-minute product pitches to a panel of three judges.
The judges then asked each a few questions and selected first-and second-place winners.
Jyll Stuart of Veracity Technologies in New Albany, which provides Web-based solutions for businesses, was the second-place winner.
Andrews said spending time with the other talented entrepreneurs was almost as exciting as winning.
“We are all just small-business owners who work very hard,” Andrews said. “The group of people was just great, and it was so cool to get to meet them and get feedback from them.”
Andrews’ pitch featured a product display, the inspiration for the cosmetic line and her five-year plan, which includes plans for an 8,400-square-foot facility and a factory to fill the cosmetics.
Andrews started out making art from recyclable material, and that was the inspiration for her to use recycled products to package the makeup. The idea for Lipgarb, the light-up lip gloss that was the first product in her line, came during a car trip from Florida.
“I found a lip gloss with a tube that is similar to what I use now, and I thought it would be so cool to make my own makeup,” Andrews said. “I didn’t plan for it to turn into a whole company.”
Her products are now available in about 80 stores, mostly independent boutiques in the South and Midwest.
“I just get the raw ingredients in and I work on it and mess up a lot, but I just keep going until I get it right,” Andrews said.
Andrews, 37, was so passionate about the business concept she gave up her position as market vice president of retail banking for German American Bancorp to pursue her dream.
She knew it was a risk but credits her husband, Scott Andrews, for providing unwavering support and assistance.
The couple have five children, and Dawn Andrews said she would not have been able to devote the time to grow the business without her husband picking up some of the slack at home.
Garb2Art cosmetics now includes several other products, such as nail polish, body butter, lotion and scrub.