When Aiyana Chery was younger, she was particularly drawn to playing with her mother’s makeup. As she grew older, her fascination with makeup grew stronger.

Throughout middle school, Chery, a senior elementary education major at the University of Maryland, received compliments on her makeup skills. Her passion for makeup stuck with her through college, and in September 2020, she started a business: Chery Cosmetics.

Chery Cosmetics sells lip glosses, eyelash sets, lip scrubs and serums for face, brows and eyelashes. The products are sold online. Some customers say the quality — and Chery’s dedication — make the company stand out.

Before starting her business, Chery explored her love for makeup by doing her friends’ makeup for special occasions such as prom. She also launched a makeup page on YouTube where she posted her latest makeup looks and tutorials.

When Chery Cosmetics first started, she only offered eyelash sets. Then, she developed lip glosses and lip scrubs. As her business progressed, she spent more time working toward growing her business and adding new products such as face and brow serums, she said.

To date, one of her best-selling products is her lip glosses. They’re homemade, like almost all of her products, and very moisturizing, she said.

Rose Mulugeta purchased products from Chery Cosmetics and the lip scrubs make her lips feel soft.

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“It doesn’t dry out my lips,” she said. “It doesn’t have nasty residue. It’s just a real clean look and feel.”

The mink eyelash sets are also popular among customers. The business offers five different eyelash styles with varying lengths.

Mulugeta was excited about purchasing the eyelash sets because they’re versatile and they became the only lashes she wears, she said.

“My favorite one is ‘Movie Star.’ It’s my everyday lash,” she said. “I could wear them if I beat my face, I could wear them if I have a natural face on.”

Another customer, Mari Gebrehiwot, a senior political science major at this university, has tried almost every lash style, and they have lasted her almost a year so far, she said. The lashes don’t rip or fall apart when she takes them off, she said.

“They’re all so pretty and different,” Gebrehiwot said. “It changes up your whole look based on what lash you put.”

Chery described her brand as a “luxury cosmetics brand” because of the quality of her products’ ingredients.

“It’s just a chance for you to treat yourself and to splurge on some beauty essentials,” she said.

Chery works on her business entirely on her own, which makes balancing school and her internship at an elementary school difficult. One of the most challenging parts about running a business on her own is managing her social media accounts, she said.

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Although she posts on her personal Twitter and has a dedicated page on Instagram for her business, making TikToks can be frustrating because sometimes they aren’t as successful in getting the number of views she hopes despite hours spent making a video, she said.

Gebrehiwot said Chery is one of the most hardworking people she knows.

“Not only does she have a business, she’s a student,” she said. “She works two jobs, she babysits for people, as well as does her teaching internship … she juggles so much.”

Despite the challenges Chery faces with her business, the positive feedback she receives and interacting with returning customers is rewarding, she said.

She enjoys packaging every order and wants people to feel that her products help them “enhance their inner beauty because these are beauty essentials,” she said.

Bella Simon, a senior elementary education major at this university, said she likes the packaging because it’s professional and aesthetically pleasing.

“They all come with a little thank you card and a really cute bag that goes with everything,” Simon said.

After she graduates, Chery plans to pursue a career as an elementary school teacher, though she will continue working on her business on the side, she said.

“I’m definitely looking forward to her business expanding,” Simon said. “I would be excited to see what other products that she puts on there on her website.”