Root Pretty

The first time Krista Tessman Dolash ’09 pushed “Buy” on a raw mineral makeup ingredient purchase, her stomach clenched. It wasn’t that the $38 bill was bank-breaking. The knots were brought on by something much bigger—the potential for where it could lead. Dolash, who graduated with a degree in communication arts with emphases in electronic media and public relations, was no stranger to owning and operating her own business; she did freelance graphic design and website work from her Waverly office after graduation. Yet starting her own mineral makeup line still was a big step outside her comfort zone.
“My husband calls me a serial hobbyist. He thought this was just another hobby, like making my own soaps or candles,” she said.
It didn’t take long to realize this endeavor was more than just another passing fad. Her operation quickly grew into an international enterprise. Dolash officially launched Root in October 2013 with a handful of colors of foundation and a few loyal customers. The idea, however, was a decade in the making and had consumed her attention for more than a year. Unhappy with mainstream mineral makeup, Dolash started researching the ingredients in each product in 2012. What she found surprised—and disgusted—her. Each product contained at least one unnecessary ingredient: bismuth oxychloride, also known as synthetic pearl. The ingredient gives some mineral cosmetics their shimmery appearance. It also can cause irritation for users who react to the chemical’s crystalline structure. Dolash wanted to create a vegan and gluten-free makeup wearable for anyone with sensitive skin.
“I bought all of the ingredients that I researched except bismuth oxychloride, researched ways to make makeup, and just started mixing,” Dolash said.

She experimented with mineral combinations for months before finding a mixture that worked for her skin. Her desire to help others still unfulfilled, Dolash sought out family and friends interested in trying the fruits of her new “hobby.” Amber Evans was one of the first to request a sample. Her daughter, Olivia, has extremely sensitive skin and couldn’t wear traditional face makeup, even ones that claimed to be all-natural. The 17-year-old suffered through itchy eyes to wear eye makeup like other girls her age.
“Olivia was so excited when Krista started making eyeliner and mascara. She could finally wear something that didn’t irritate her eyes,” said Amber Evans, who now works for Dolash in Root’s Waverly shop.
Dolash used her marketing and design skills to develop a logo, create a website (, and build a brand that has allowed her to grow the business on a limited budget. Root’s online presence has driven its early success. Instead of spending money on advertising, Dolash spent time on social media. In less than a year, Root has gained more than 5,000 Instagram followers, 2,000 Facebook likes, and 600 Twitter followers.
“I reached out to makeup artists, bloggers, and anyone who wanted to try my makeup, and I sent it to them for free. I just asked them to review it, give me their feedback, and post a before-and-after photo,” she said.
With the opening of Root’s new main street storefront, Dolash can focus on growing her operation even more. Root boasts a full makeup line including blush, bronzer, eye shadow, mascara, and lipstick.
“We are making 50 different colors. We’ve got our liquid makeup, our pretty balms (tinted lip gloss), lipsticks, anything you could want. And I can’t stop. I keep making new stuff. It’s just so fun,” Dolash said.
In addition to outsourcing the production of lipstick, mascara, and gel eyeliner, Dolash has hired four employees to handle in-store and online inquiries, packaging, and shipping, freeing her to do what she loves—growing her faithful Root following and product offerings. A natural skin care line is up next.
“I just love makeup, but it’s the nonstop emails I get from customers thanking me and saying that this is the best makeup they’ve ever worn that blows me away. I wouldn’t be passionate about this business if I didn’t honestly believe that it is good, quality makeup.