ATLANTA — After struggling to focus on classwork and find her passion, Georgia State University student Paige Malcolm said she couldn’t be happier that her new business was selected for financial and mentoring support through a university program.
Malcolm is the founder and CEO of SkinCentric, one of 12 companies selected to participate in Georgia State’s Main Street Entrepreneurs Seed Fund. The six-month program supports GSU students, recent alumni and community entrepreneurs with seed funding and mentorship to start and grow new ventures. More than 160 entrepreneurs applied to be included in the latest cohort of the program, which was founded in 2019 and is housed in the university’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Institute.
Malcolm, a sophomore computer science major at the university, merged two of her passions — beauty and technology — to create SkinCentric. The company aims to reduce pollution from plastic waste with a tech-enabled dispenser that also minimizes bathroom clutter.
“When I was brainstorming different business ideas, I wanted something like this. This merges all of my interests together,” Malcolm said. “Having this opportunity to bring all my passions together is my dream come true. This project is keeping me grounded and motivated. Everything feels right.”
Finding her footing in technology and higher education wasn’t easy. After graduating from North Atlanta High School in 2019, Malcolm planned to skip college and pursue a career as a hairstylist. She ultimately decided to give college a try for one year and attended Georgia State as an entrepreneurship major.
At the time, Malcolm ran a successful hair braiding business, earning $2,000 a week working out of a salon suite in Buckhead.
“I had my hair business on the side and really wasn’t paying attention to school,” Malcolm said. “I ended up failing all my classes my first semester because I wasn’t applying myself.”
After a tough conversation with her family, Malcolm decided to give school another try with a new mindset and a switch to computer science.
Growing up with tech savvy siblings and an aircraft mechanic for a father, Malcolm said learning more about technology was always an interest. Since refocusing on her studies, Malcolm has been named to the Dean’s List three times and was on the President’s List for the spring 2022 semester.
“I was a little intimidated to switch my major to computer science because I was scared of failing my classes again, but I ended up getting the best grades I ever have,” Malcolm said.
Now she’s focused on launching a successful business. The crown jewel of SkinCentric is the LO1 Smart Beauty Dispenser — a tech-enabled, carousel-like device designed to allow users to store all their skin care products in one place while streamlining their skin care routine. Malcolm plans to make the dispenser out of recycled aluminum and has designed it to fit five beauty products.
“Our target customers care about sustainability and care about what’s in their skin care products,” Malcolm said. “Of course, we can’t end plastic use as a whole, but this is a way to incorporate sustainability and recyclable material.”
Malcolm said she’s happy Georgia State helped her follower her passion for computer science while also encouraging her entrepreneurial spirit.
“When I was a hairstylist, I would get the feeling that I wasn’t satisfied. I felt like, ‘Is this what I should be doing?’” Malcolm said. “Now I feel at peace.”
—Photo by Raven Schley