Jassma'ray Johnson of Simple Samone

CYstarters Spotlight Story: Simply Sámone LLC

This story is part of a series featuring each of the fourteen startups in the CYstarters 2022 summer cohort. Each student has the opportunity to focus on their startup or business idea while receiving $6,500 or up to $13,000 (per team), along with mentorship, accountability, and educational sessions on how to build a business. 

By Samantha Dilocker, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship 


Get to know:  Jassma’ray Johnson

Age: 21 

Education: Senior double majoring in psychology and communications with a minor in African American studies 

Hometown: Des Moines, IA 


Currently working on: Simply Sámone, a beauty brand that creates handmade lip gloss and balms using healthy products for any and all people in order to make people feel unapologetically beautiful in their own skin while encouraging, inspiring, and uplifting. 


Have you always seen yourself starting something?  

Yes, I could definitely say that. I didn’t know what exactly I was going to start or where I would go with it, but ever since I was a young child, I was always creating things. I would write books; I would write poems and music. I was cooking, baking, and making play-doh and lip gloss. I always did something. Definitely.   


When did you start working on Simply Sámone, and who or what inspired you?  

I started working on Simply Samone officially when I was a freshman at Iowa State, so I was 18 years old. I’ve always had the idea. I’ve always loved lip gloss. One person who definitely inspired me was Moesha Mitchell from the sitcom Moesha. I love her! I always watched her. I will literally sit and rewatch all the seasons. She always had on pretty brown lipstick and lip gloss, and so she was really what inspired me to make my own. And then, of course, the friends around me, no one shot me down when I told them the idea. They were like, “Yeah, girl, do it!” They really pushed me, so I thought, ‘Alright, let’s get this thing going!’   


What excites you about being an entrepreneur?   

Honestly everything. I’m the type of person who loves hands-on stuff, I love to experiment and experience things, so entrepreneurship, I feel like is just all of that. You’re constantly learning. I love to learn, I love to read, and I love people. Entrepreneurship is just all of the things I love to do in one, so it makes me excited. Every day is a new journey. I get so excited every day to do and learn something new!  


What is your biggest goal for your business?   

Currently, my biggest goal is to get Simply Samone everywhere. I don’t want Simply Samone to be a small business. I don’t want Simply Samone to only be lip gloss. I want Simply Samone to be an entire cosmetics company. Where you see Fenty Beauty or the brands you see at Sephora, I want that to be Simply Samone.   


What has been your biggest challenge thus far, and how have you overcome it?  

The creative process is hard! People see the finished product and what you put on social media, but making everything is so hard! People put this on their skin, so I’m constantly having to take caution over what I’m doing, getting things the right pigments and measurements. I love it, but it’s a big, big challenge to get everything done correctly and efficiently.   


Do you have people who help you? How did you learn how to do this?  

Every once in a while, my friends will help me fill tubes and package orders if I have a lot. I actually learned on YouTube! Just watching YouTube videos and trying it myself.  


How has entrepreneurship at Iowa State impacted you?  

Iowa State Entrepreneurship, two big thumbs up! My first year here, I felt very alone throughout my journey, and I didn’t really know anyone because I wasn’t taking business classes, but once I signed up for the LAS I+E Academy, Rebecca got my foot in so many doors! She helped me out, and I met everyone at the Pappajohn Center, the CYstarters crew, and the people who do the pitch competitions. I definitely feel connected and at home. I’ve met so many people with all the opportunities, like CYstarters and pitch competitions, or even just networking. I haven’t done it yet, but the Student Innovation Center allows students the opportunity to put their products in the Innovate 1858 store. There are so many good resources, funding opportunities, and mentors who are passionate about the same things you’re passionate about who will help you elevate and push you to the next level. Iowa State, love it!   


What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student?  

Stay authentic. I identify myself as a smart, driven college student, and at the end of the day, “stay authentic” can mean many different things. Whether you’re staying authentic with creating, if you’re not a creator or a person who loves people, just stay authentic, stay true to yourself. Never change depending on what you get or don’t get, the people around you, because at the end of the day, no matter what space you go into, if you’re yourself, you’re going to benefit.   


How can we support Simply Samone?  

You can support Simply Samone in a lot of different ways! First, purchasing products. Second, joining our newsletter I just started, that’s going to be great! I’m not only going to be doing promotions on there, but I’m going to be doing a lot of talk about social justice and women’s rights, just keeping people updated. It would be real cool to have people interact with me on there. I want to start conversations outside of just my business. Another way to support Simply Samone is with mentorship. I’m eager to learn, and I love talking to people, so if there are any resources out there or opportunities I can take, I would love to know because nine times out of ten, I’ll do it! Uplift Simply Samone on social media platforms, telling your friends and family about who I am and what my brand is would be really helpful.