Student Spotlight: Margo Gianos, “The Lip Balm Girl”

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You’ve likely heard of Margo Gianos’s (’19) company, Honestly Margo, and seen her lip balms in the cupboard or even a local boutique; however, you may not know that her business extends outside of our campus and even Oklahoma. When she’s not in class or on the soccer field, Margo is running her company, whether it be taking business calls during Activities period, or trying to manage her social media accounts – an important aspect of promoting her business.

Margo’s love for business has its roots long before the founding of Honestly Margo. While all of us were running lemonade stands, Margo attempted to create businesses that included selling cat toys in the corner of her yard, creating an online art business with Meg Bohanon (’19), selling bookmarks, designing an app, and even trying to start a pet photography business. “The excitement of doing something productive and making money was thrilling to me,” Margo says. This desire to be an entrepreneur would prove to not simply be a childhood fantasy, but a defining aspect of her life that quite possibly could determine what she decides to do with the rest of her life. 

Founded in 2013, Honestly Margo began as a product of experiments Margo did in her kitchen. After testing different recipes and filling them in empty lip balm tubes from Ebay, Margo made her first pumpkin cheesecake flavored lip balms under the name MI Goods and distributed them to friends at school, whom she says “ always supported and [have] always been there right behind me.” After positive feedback and a demand for more lip balms, Margo continued to develop her hobby into an actual company. She established Honestly Margo, a reference to her products’ natural and simple ingredient list, and came up with the slogan “Inspired by nature and you.” Initially, local stores bought her first three flavors, Penelope (pumpkin cheesecake), Juliet (caramel apple), and Fiona (fruity colada), but Honestly Margo began to expand rapidly and continued to grow faster than anyone anticipated.

Fast forward to today, a couple weeks after the company’s four year anniversary, Margo’s products are in 400 stores in the US, Australia, and Canada. Honestly Margo currently offers 6 lip balms, 6 body balms, 6 tinted lip balms, and a vapor balm, but more beauty products are on the way that will extend out of just balm products. She has been featured in US News, GMA’s Deals and Steals, The Huffington Post, and most recently on the TLC special Kid Tycoons. The show followed Margo and two other teen entrepreneurs as they attempt to manage their businesses while trying to continue to live the life of an ordinary teenager. It revealed Margo’s struggle to maintain a balance between school and her business, of which she says, “I subconsciously prioritize work because it’s what I want to do later, but I know I need to take care of school now.” Margo’s mom, however, helps her through the stress as her “momager,” though she admits it can become stressful at times: “Working with my mom is fun, but a little crazy, but she’s one of my best friends. We have to work on not overstepping boundaries, since I’m her boss, so we just kind of try to find that balance.” 

Honestly Margo has provided Margo not only with lessons of the business world, but expanded her horizons and allowed her “to meet new people and experience things that (she) wouldn’t have experienced.” Her business puts her in the public eye, which exposes her to the scrutiny of other people, but Margo has learned to ignore adversity and continue to work hard. “People are going to hate on you,” Margo says, “but keep doing you. If you have a dream, you can accomplish it, but just tune ‘em out.” She plans to release new products soon that are not exclusively in the balm category, and has plans to continue growing her business to the point where it is her full-time job. 

Visit Honestly Margo’s website for more information or to buy products: https://honestlymargo.com