Not Your Average Vending Machine
If you’ve traveled by plane in recent years, you may have noticed vending machines that offer a variety of products such as makeup, electronics, and toiletries. These automated retail machines have finally made their way to Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio, thanks to Celeste Brown, CEO of Defining Enterprises.
Not Her First Rodeo
Celeste is a serial entrepreneur, and her ambition knows no bounds. Her first business idea came about in 2019 while she was at a fast-food restaurant with her fiancé. They noticed the parking lot was in a state of disrepair and began brainstorming ideas to solve the problem. This led to the creation of Defining Lots, a company that provides parking lot cleanup and snow removal services.
But Celeste’s business ideas didn’t stop there. While traveling, she discovered Kylie Jenner’s cosmetic vending machines at an airport and saw an opportunity to bring something similar to Northeast Ohio. She did her research and found that there was a market for automated retail machines, which are different from vending machines in that they sell a wider range of products tailored to customers and locations, and use different technology.
Celeste’s Defining Essentials machines, which can carry a variety of products such as curling irons, iPads, toothpaste, and medicine, are currently located at Akron-Canton Airport as part of the airport’s business catalyst program. This program aims to support minority-owned and disadvantaged businesses by providing them with an opportunity to grow into permanent retailers at the airport. Celeste is the first business to participate in the program and is excited about the potential it holds.
In addition to the products offered in her machines, Celeste also provides an opportunity for other businesses to advertise on HD displays or showcase and sell local products. She hopes to place more of her machines in local colleges, universities, hotels, and mid-size airports, with the goal of reaching a wider audience and providing convenient access to essential products.
Celeste also created a luxury 3D mink lashes line called You Define You, which is available in her Defining Essentials machines or online. She plans to add more products to this line and eventually become a distributor of automated retail machines. With the industry growing rapidly, Celeste sees potential for these machines to be present in a variety of locations.
Bounce’s Next Level Business Incubator has been a valuable resource for Defining Enterprises, providing Celeste with the opportunity to speak with entrepreneurs in residence and veteran business owners who offer one-on-one advising and mentorship. Celeste credits the Bounce entrepreneurs with being a great sounding board for her ideas and providing guidance and direction.
Celeste encourages other entrepreneurs to research and pursue their business ideas, and to not be afraid to take risks. She believes that following her gut has been instrumental in her own success, especially as a Black woman entrepreneur.
Celeste is driven by the belief that with hard work and determination, anything is possible. She advises others that if your dream isn’t big enough for people to tell you it’s crazy, it’s not big enough, and encourages others to go for it.
“Men always go for their dreams, whether it’s a good idea or not. They take risks. For women of all backgrounds, if you have an idea, go for it. We get stuck in being scared, and we don’t move forward,” she said. “If your dream isn’t big enough for people to tell you it’s crazy, it’s not big enough. I think my dreams are so big and crazy.”
To learn more about Defining Enterprises, visit the website: definingenterprises.com