Mai Couture Founder Mai Tran on Building a niche cosmetics brand

. Posted in Los Angeles

mai-coutureMAI TRAN

Live the ultimate beauty dream. Develop your own cosmetics brand. How? Mai explains what it needs to build a successful cosmetics brand
A fashion designer turned beauty entrepreneur, Mai Tran’s Mai Couture seems to have conquered a new niche in the cosmetic industry with her genius 2-in-1 blotting papers. She’s a busy mother of three constantly on-the-go so it would only make sense as a make-up artist to develop a quick and easy make-up application all wrapped up in one blotting paper. Now, after a couple of years of development, Mai Couture can be found all through the States and even internationally. Catching up with Tran was no easy feat but she graciously took time out from kids, work and her iPhone so we could find out what inspires her, what’s next and where she unwinds.

Tran’s background started in the world of fashion design but after realizing how cutthroat the business was, she decided to explore other creative opportunities that would allow her to balance her family and work life. She opted for the beauty world, attended a make-up academy and fell in love with being a make-up artist. But what set off her curiosity to create a beauty product? “It was over the years of being a make-up artist and listening to clients and believe it or not, a lot of people don’t wear make-up which I was really surprised,” says Tran. From there, she started working on developing the ultimate product that could not only remove oil and shine from the face but also highlights and provides a bit of coverage.   

Faced with many trial-and-errors on getting the right formula for the papers was one of Tran’s hardest challenges to overcome as well as doubts from others who questioned if it was even possible to create this kind of product and be effective. Tran explains, “Definitely the challenge is developing a product that actually can perform. Everyone’s first initial thought is, how are you going to put make-up on paper? Is it going to be blotchy? And, it was a big challenge in getting the formula correct.” 

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Using all of her resources even down to testing the products on her young kids paid off—even to the point where her four year-old daughter came up with the name of her blush paper. “’Prettyful’ which is that pink color. That was her word. She said, ‘How about beautiful, prettyful?’” Her foundation papers recently got a rave review from the mega stylist Rachel Zoe on her website The Zoe Report claiming “it’s the next best thing to liquid foundation—or dare we say, better…”.   

And for the ultimate beauty junkies, Mai Couture created highlighting papers and for those who are unsure how to apply highlighting powder? Tran gives us this beauty tip. “Highlighters usually go right above the cheekbones to give that radiance glow where the sun hits it, and then the nose ridge, the forehead. The highlighter is good when you just want to go fresh face and use as a blush as it provides a sheer coverage for you.” Mai Couture recently launched a lip gloss line offering five flirty colors and next up—rumor has it, maybe body shimmer papers, one can only imagine! 

When Tran isn’t busy with product developing, raising kids, or running a company, she can often be found unwinding and doing a bit of shopping at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, perusing Neiman Marcus or online celebrity boutique Kitson. But her ultimate de-stresser after a long day is coming home to her kids. “That’s the end of my day joy. I don’t have a lot of time with them so just coming home and seeing them laugh, it kind of makes my day. It ends my day well,” says Tran.   

You can check out all her products at


—by Lorna Umphrey

Photos: Courtesy of Mai Couture

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