PORTLAND \u2014 Ask Brenda Mierzejewski how she got into the cosmetics business and she\u2019ll tell you it was really about solving a problem \u201cin a healthy, natural way.\u201d Mierzejewski, 39, of Portland, said at first she wanted to create a sophisticated, understated, down-to-earth, natural lip balm. She had worked in the pharmaceutical industry and had seen a shift toward non-petroleum and natural, clean bases. \u201cWhen I realized what was in most lip care products, I was horrified. Not only did learning about the negative effects of petroleum make me feel sick that I was putting it on my kids\u2019 lips, but I couldn\u2019t believe the amount of petroleum most of us ingest in our lifetime,\u201d she said. \u201cAs a mom, I wanted other moms to embrace their own beauty while they were changing diapers or shuttling their kids to soccer practice. \u201cI wanted them to feel confident about themselves by putting a little shine on their lips,\u201d said Mierzejewski, who started her business in 2013 by working out of her home. She called her company Mizzi Cosmetics. Mizzi is the maiden name of her mother, the woman who gave her a passion for makeup. Mierzejewski said she was determined to create a product that would heal dry, cracked lips, something all-natural with essential oils that not only were good for users but looked good. She experimented with various lip balms to heal and soothe, but couldn\u2019t find one she liked. Then she came up with a winner: a lip balm using natural and organic ingredients \u2014 pure honey, sweet almond oil, lemon and lavender, moisturizers that accomplished her goal. Working with Connecticut Small Business Development Center Advisor Denise Whitford, Mierzejewski learned about production, packaging and licensing. \u201cBrenda\u2019s positive energy is truly contagious,\u201d Whitford said. \u201cShe has great business values and surrounds herself with amazing team members committed to building a better process with positive outcomes.\u201d Suddenly her products took off. Celebrity Kylie Jenner mentioned Mierzejewski\u2019s products on Instagram. Then the LipLuxe product made it into a swag bag at the 87th Acadamy Awards in 2015. \u201cWe were getting noticed. Beauty magazine editors wanted samples,\u201d Mierzejewski said. When the news first broke that Mizzi lip products were used by Jenner, orders jumped to over 100 in less than 12 hours. Mizzi\u2019s sales manager Rebecca Sardinskas said the cosmetics were \u201creally making their mark.\u201d Yet, after four years, Mierzejewski realized if she wanted to attract more investors, her company needed to go national with a new stand alone facility. \u201cI knew if we moved into our own building, I could start creating jobs,\u201d she said. Her staff is now up to nine, including herself. Though Mierzejewski decided to expand, she also wanted to stay local. \u201cWe found a wonderful new building in Portland on Glastonbury Turnpike,\u201d she said. Mierzejewski, Sardinskas and her husband Gregory helped Mierzejewski and her husband paint the interior of the company\u2019s new facility. Her husband, David Mierjewski, is assistant principal at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Middletown. \u201cHere, we do manufacturing, distribution, and have a research and development lab. Our offices are also here and we open a retail boutique for special events,\u201d she said. The company moved in last May. In the first month and a half, her Lipluxe whipped lip scrub began selling on Beauty Bridge, a national online retailer. Mizzi now has a chemist on staff. Mary Dickerson, land use\/economic development coordinator for Portland, said, \u201cWe\u2019re incredibly proud of Brenda. Hers is one of those success stories that started as a home-based business, later moved into a manufacturing facility here, and is dedicated to staying in Portland.\u201d Dickerson says she is especially proud of Mizzi Cosmetics commitment to creating all-natural and organic products, safe for children to use. The business has a strong heart for children. Mierzejewski\u2019s son, Brady, 8, was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect at 4 months and underwent open heart surgery. The operation was a success, and today, \u201cBrady is doing great,\u201d his mother said. \u201cHe still has a leaky valve that may need to be fixed someday, but overall, he\u2019s a happy and healthy little boy who runs around the house with his big sister, Leana,\u201d Mierzejewski said. Mizzi Cosmetics makes monthly donations to the American Heart Association in honor of Brady. The company also donates a portion of it sales to Lily\u2019s Kids, a Middletown nonprofit whose primary focus is prevention and awareness of heart disease in children, young adults and their families. Mierzejewski considers Mizzi \u201ca unique niche (company). We believe in creating truly all natural, functional products good for lips. We carefully select each ingredient for our lip products to ensure they have the greatest benefit to our consumers. We want to create healthy products that nourish, detoxify, exfoliate, so our lips feel healthy and beautiful,\u201d she said. As a result, Mizzi has developed a loyal customer base, including the growing industry of doctors who perform lip augmentation with pre- and post-lip injections. Sixty percent of Mizzi sales are online. The remainder are in high-end boutiques or through the medical profession. \u201cThere are so many negative stories written about doing business in Connecticut, then there\u2019s Brenda \u2014 an example of a positive startup. She doesn\u2019t need to be in Hollywood or New York to market her products. Portland works just fine,\u201d Dickerson said. For information, visit mizzicosmetics.com or Mizzi Cosmetics on Twitter and Facebook.