Oscars trip a success for Thunder Bay-born entrepreneur

There was a lot to remember about the 2017 Oscars, but for Thunder Bay-born entrepreneur Michelle Hamer, the big awards show was extra-memorable this year.

Tinseltown a 'good fit' for Bee23, says Michelle Hamer

Michelle Hamer, left, CEO of Bee23, poses with Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardy at an Oscars gifting suite in February. Deak and Udvardy would go on to win the Academy Award for best live-action short film. (Supplied)
There was a lot to remember about the 2017 Oscars, but for Thunder Bay-born entrepreneur Michelle Hamer, the big awards show was extra-memorable this year.

Hamer, the CEO of natural beauty product company Bee23, was in Hollywood for this year's Oscars, promoting her company's Hotty Balm.

The trip — which included two days in one of the famous Oscars gifting suites, essentially trade show-like setups where companies provide their products to celebrities for publicity purposes — gave Hamer and her team a chance to market the balm directly to Hollywood stars.

And while the trip was a big investment, it was well worth the risk, Hamer said.

"The effort to put it all together was worth it," she said. "Business-wise, it was one of the best choices I've made."

Hamer said the trip was a "great launching pad" as she considers expanding Bee23 into other markets.

The Tinseltown trip came about through a Los Angeles-based PR firm Hamer has been working with, and while the week was spent undertaking various marketing and promotional activities like photo shoots, the gifting suites were the focus, Hamer said.

"The gifting suites ... were incredible," Hamer said. "Basically, it's an opportunity to introduce your product to industry professionals and celebrities."

"You can get your picture with them, if they want," she said. "They were just so sweet."

Michelle Hamer, CEO of Bee23, poses with actor Richard Kind (Gotham, Inside Out, Spin City) at an Oscars gifting suite in Los Angeles in February. Hamer was in Hollywood to promote her company's Hotty Balm. (Supplied)

And Hamer did get plenty of photos — visit the Bee23 Instagram account to see some of them. Among those who posed with Hamer in the gifting suite were Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardy, who would go on to win the Oscar for best live-action short film.

But the big revelation for Hamer was the fact that her products really fit in nicely in Hollywood.

"It became less about 'oh, I can't wait to network with this person or get my picture' or something like that," she said. "It really became 'oh my gosh, my product actually belongs here.'"

"Skin in Hollywood, or in the film industry, it goes through so much duress because of the heavy makeup for long hours and bright lights," Hamer said. "On a customer level, the guests were super-excited to get my product."

Hamer launched Bee23 in Thunder Bay, but moved the company to Toronto about four years ago. That, too, was a risk, but she said entrepreneurs need to be willing to take those.

"You need to get out there," Hamer said. "You need to get in front of people, you need to introduce yourself, you need to introduce your product."

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