Odari perseveres through hardships to establish her small business


Photo Courtesy Kavya Odari

Senior Kavya Odari overcomes struggles and doubt to establish small cosmetics business.

Tumi Ojo and Amanda Booth

Junior Kavya Odari comes close to achieving her dream of becoming an entrepreneur with her small business K.O. Cosmetics. 

Odari started her business when she was 14 and wanted to create products that embraced her culture. 

“I wanted to bring out my culture in a way that could be expressed widely. I have always been into business, cosmetics, and the economy. So I thought, why not start a brand that portrays culture, and my passion for business,” Odari said.

Odari makes lip glosses, lash serums, and lip scrubs that are all vegan, gluten, and cruelty-free. She is also working on many more products to launch.

She has closely connected her business to her Nepali culture, by naming her products after words in the Nepali language. For example, her pink lip gloss “Rani” means “queen.” 

“I’m slowly working on improving things like marketing (and) trying to come up with products that are more innovative and connected to my culture,” Odari said. 

Despite her current acceptance of her ethnic background, Odari has faced hardships with being an immigrant. 

“Every time I tried to display my background, I got bullied for it. For years and years I pretended to be someone that I wasn’t,” Odari said.

“I’ve always been into business and marketing, and I also loved makeup. Not because I want to look different, but to embrace it because makeup is a work of art,” Odari said. 

Odari makes lip glosses, lash serums, and lip scrubs that are all vegan, gluten, and cruelty-free. She is also working on many more products to launch.

Junior Sharika Neopaney, Odari’s friend, could see that because of her driven and stubborn personality, she would thrive in the business field.

“I knew that she was already aware of the business field because her dad works in that field, so when she started her own business, I was not surprised. She struggled a bit in the beginning because she didn’t get any help, but as she continued her business she improved a lot,” Neopaney said. 

Part of Odari’s inspiration derives from her father’s business (Blue Diamond Home Care) and her uncle’s multiple businesses.

I got quite a lot of hate, but I didn’t let that stop me,

Odari also consistently studied aspects of business in her free time before pursuing her own brand. She has other small businesses that she runs, which help her gain more knowledge about the “business world” and acquire more skills for further challenges. Odari wanted to make sure her businesses would have success before going forward. 

“Around the summer of 8th grade, I started doing research. I would go a continuous 8 hours almost every other day researching ingredients, how to set up a business, marketing strategies, and inventory setups,” Odari said.

However, Odari’s determination for starting a business at a young age made her receive backlash.

“I thought it was the most impossible thing to start a brand. Whenever I asked people, “Do you think someone as young as me could start something, like make a simple cosmetics line?”, They said no. Focus on your studies, get your grades good; that’s all that matters.’ I got quite a lot of hate, but I didn’t let that stop me,” Odari said. 

Rather than focusing on the negative feedback she received, Odari put all her energy into her future and the ways she could improve her brand. 

“Some things that helped my business progress were the connections that I made. I started learning about marketing strategies and tried to input them in my products,” Odari said.

Odari’s business has already taken off, as she admits to selling in cosmetic establishments and making notable connections. 

“I also started selling at local Nepali stores and beauty salons and many events. And I started connecting with some other business owners, who are pretty big in our community, taking it step-by-step in order to gain knowledge and always be one step ahead.” 

Odari has also been seeking mentorship and guidance from Baldwin alumni Jon Shanahan, who successfully pitched his “Makeup for Men ” brand on Shark Tank

“He is helping me with payments regarding my business and is leading me onward with more connections and tremendous knowledge about the cosmetics world,” Odari says. 

Recently, Odari’s Instagram, @k.ocosmetics, has been receiving rapid attention, averaging 30,000 or more views per Instagram reel. 

“My Instagram has got quite a lot of views now, which draws much more attention (to my products),” Odari said. 

History teacher Christopher Reilsono, who has been helping Odari expand her business, applauds her efforts. 

“Kavya is incredibly creative, ambitious, and most importantly has a wonderful heart. All these things have been beneficial to her in starting a business, and it is no surprise that she is finding success with it,” Reilsono said. 

Odari even offers advice for young entrepreneurs unsure of starting their own businesses.Everything is always going to be challenging and the first step is always the hardest. But, once you connect with your passion, never stop striving and never allow someone else to kill your dreams,” Odari said.