Le’Airra Bullingor said she wants the word “HoneyBun” inscribed on her grave.
Bullingor, who started online beauty store HoneyBun Cosmetics, which began providing mink lashes, lip glosses and glittery pins in July, said she wants to continue spearheading her company well after graduating college. The second-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student said she aims to provide quality cosmetics to all communities, including college students.
“When you’re an entrepreneur and you run your own business, you’re working towards your own goal,” Bullingor said. “I wanted that for myself instead of working for somebody else. I just want to show other people that we can really build something. We don’t have to follow anybody else’s footsteps.”
Bullingor said she attributes her interest in makeup to her high school days of dancing and cheerleading, as she frequently added lashes to her look before she performed. She based her brand off YouTube channels like “Made By Ari J.” and “Mocha Princesa,” which inspired her through genuine depictions of black women making entrepreneurial names for themselves in the cosmetics industry.
Bullingor said HoneyBun’s main client base is college students, but particularly people of color who are frequently underrepresented in media. Although HoneyBun is for everyone, Bullingor said she aims to represent people of color in her work, including in photographs and accessories that feature phrases like “blk girls.”
Along with representation, Bullingor said she appreciates the ability to personalize each customer’s experience with her products, especially since HoneyBun is a fledgling company. Fourth-year political science student Tabitha Romero, who recently purchased lashes from HoneyBun, said she spoke with Bullingor over Instagram with specific requests for lashes, and Bullingor found viable options that fit Romero’s guidelines.
“It was really easy for somebody to just tell me which lashes will work best for me,” Romero said. “That type of knowledge in a product isn’t something you can find in any store.”
Customers also appreciate HoneyBun’s outspokenness against the cruelty-ridden industry of mink lashes, Bullingor said. Mink lashes provide a natural and lightweight alternative to plastic lashes; however, they are manufactured with mink hair. Despite mink lashes’ reputation of animal cruelty, she said she maintains a cruelty-free business by communicating extensively with the farmers to ensure that the mink fur is collected without killing and the animals are treated well. Bullingor said she hopes to expand HoneyBun by introducing vegan lashes into HoneyBun’s lash line.
“There’s a lot of backlash because (mink lashes are) so associated with cruelty, but I really do not want to be associated with animal cruelty whatsoever,” Bullingor said. “I never want to be a part of anything that’s that horrible. I did my research and I grilled them.”
Although Bullingor said she initially struggled with being taken seriously by farmers because of the youth of her company, she remained committed to learning more about her sources. Second-year human biology and society student Desire Brown, who purchased lashes and clips from HoneyBun, said she appreciates Bullingor’s ability to provide ethical products to a diverse client base.
“Her products are not only for women of color, they’re for all types of women,” Brown said. “At the same time, she does want to represent women of color because they are underrepresented in the beauty industry.”
Bullingor said HoneyBun aims to provide high-quality, cruelty-free products for all people by providing a means to feel beautiful. HoneyBun is representative of her lifestyle, Bullingor said, one that she hopes to pursue throughout her career so that all people can feel beautiful.
“There’s no one shade in this world,” Bullingor said. “So when we take up our own space, it feels like we are meant to be there. You like to be seen, you like to be heard. As long as your inside is beautiful, your outside will be beautiful.”