Beauty Entrepreneurs Share The Best Business Advice They’ve Received
In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we asked 11 founders and executives: What’s the best advice you received on starting a brand?
- Rikita Kapadia Founder, Cocovit
The best piece of advice I was given prior to the launch of Cocovít was that there is no such thing as an overnight success and building a successful brand takes time, hard work and dedication. Many young entrepreneurs look at brands and immediately see only their success and don't necessarily recognize that it took years for these brands to get where they are. Brand building is essential and, unfortunately, there are not blueprints or instructions in doing so, therefore they often take time. I truly believe the time and energy you put into building your brand wisely and consistently will ultimately pay off. The end result will be a long-lasting brand, one which people will recognize and remember for the years to come.
- Kristin Fraser CEO, The Grapeseed Company
It was 2004, fresh into my start with Grapeseed Co., I was hyper-focused on the fact that we were one of a few brands at the time using certified organic ingredients. All my marketing was targeted with "ORGANIC," when it was pointed out to me that I had a much more unique story and niche, and should be focusing on that. The Grapeseed Co. sources the antioxidant-rich red wine waste from California and Oregon wineries, and upcycles it into an entire skincare, body and haircare line. That's our unique story. That's our niche, our focus, and why our customer loves us, besides great products. What makes you different? Identify and use it to be remembered.
- Linda Gillette Parodi Founder and CEO, PARODI Professional Care
Be a cowboy. You have to take risks, and I mean full-on risks that could shoot you to the moon with success or end badly. That’s the only way you’ll get anywhere. Also, don’t be so hard on yourself. Building a great brand is a journey. It takes time to nurture it to success. I also believe there is no set formula for success in the beauty industry, no matter who tells you otherwise. You have to take a risk. To those just starting off, I recommend having a realistic and attainable launch timeline that allows for a variety of issues to arise from delays in the raw material deliveries to checking and double checking all the legal issues. Above all, entrepreneurs must have the patience, no matter how tough that is, to wait for the brand to reach its tipping point and become truly successful. Finally, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.
- Cyndi M. Frick Co-Founder, PARIS HONORÉ
One of the best tips I got was actually from our founder, and it wasn’t a statement. Rather, it was in the form of a question like on Jeopardy. At the time of the conversation, I was exhausted and bogged down with website development, and some of the less glamorous aspects of starting a business/brand. “Are you having fun?” she asked me as I sighed heavily through the phone. I thought about the question, but was only able to reply with silence. Was I having fun? “If you’re not having fun, then it’s not worth it,” she continued. Starting a business and building a new brand is a challenge not for the faint-hearted. And while hard work is, well, hard work, if you are passionate about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and you find satisfaction in the job you’ve done, then it is all worth it in the end.
- Janna Sheehan Founder, Ojai Wild
One piece of advice that carried a lot of weight for me as a new designer and entrepreneur launching my first line of fragrances came in 2010 at a seminar in Los Angeles. The advice was delivered eloquently and powerfully by Cristina Carlino, founder of the Philosophy brand and keynote speaker. She said, "Your business is just a hobby until it’s profitable.” As an artist first and then a businesswoman, this advice was to heed. Being an artist, it's easy to get swept away with the creativity of making new products. It's exciting, exhilarating to launch and adding to your product line gives you more shelf space with retailers. It also costs more. Packaging and marketing alone can eat up a budget before you have the customer base to substantiate the sales. It takes time to build relationships with your customers, who want to know they can expect quality and consistency for their loyalty. Learning how to pay more attention to details, like these that drive sales, has been a critical and an important lesson.
- Lauren Evashenk Founder and Owner, Naked Truth Beauty
I've received lots of advice, but one nugget I received at the very beginning from a female entrepreneur I greatly admire has stayed with me. She told me simply, "Know what your goals are and how long you have to meet them or reevaluate." This seems like straightforward, simple advice, but it has a lot of power. There's a fine line between giving up too early and trudging on too long on a path that isn't working. This wisdom reminds me to stay true to my own goals and definitions of success, and to give myself permission to try something new when option A isn't going quite as planned.
- Kate Chen Founder, Akar Skin
A mentor once told me to not introduce another skincare brand unless I have something remarkable to offer. Beauty is a highly competitive and saturated market. However, an outstanding product that’s not found elsewhere can make acceptance a little smoother. His advice has been guiding me ever since. It helped me narrow down my initial concept to the Tibetan plateau, where a variety of ultra-potent and exotic plants are housed due to its high elevation. It also made deciding on subsequent product launches easier as we always focus on two things: ingredients native to the Tibetan plateau and what’s not already available on the market.
- Suzanne Roberta Co-Founder, Adesse Global Cosmetics
One of the best pieces of advice I got when we decided to start our company and, ultimately, the Adesse New York brand, was to simply not quit. I know it sounds like really simple advice, but being an entrepreneur and, especially an entrepreneur in the ultra competitive beauty industry, is not an easy thing to do. Challenges are constant and frustrations happen every day when you are building a company and a beauty brand. The lure of getting a "normal" job was always there. The naysayers and the voice in my own head were always there, it seemed, working against me. The option of quitting and doing something easier was ever present, and there were so many days when I really considered it. But, in taking each and every challenge head on and finding solutions, it did get easier. And, now, as I look back to those early days, I know that quitting would have been the easy thing to do in the moment, but doing so would also ensure that my dream of owning a beauty company would never be fulfilled. I also now realize the reason most entrepreneurs fail is because they lose their faith and quit too soon. My advice: press on, find a way, ignore the negative voices and remember that the current challenge you are facing will not last forever. Quitting may seem like the easy or only option at the moment, but doing so will ensure that your dream, whatever it is, will not be realized.
- Valerie Grandury Founder, Odacité
As I was hesitating to take my privately customized skincare products to the next level of launching a company, a friend of mine told me, "Valerie, you need the audacity to redefine skincare.” Daring is at the center of everything I do, and this convinced me to move forward and dare to create Odacité, a French play on audacity. I also convinced this friend to become my business partner.
- Jessica Rowell Greenfield Founder, All Caps Hair
The amount of information and learning that takes place in starting a business and then launching a product is intense. For truly small brands that means the responsibility falls on one or two people to make everything happen, learning most things for the first time along the way. I was fortunate enough to meet other entrepreneurs, beauty and otherwise, that helped me to understand you launch when your product is great and not when it’s perfect. Perfect is subjective, and people get stuck on an idea that is totally individual and can lose time, money and opportunity. So much of learning is doing, and you have to be open to the idea that you are going to change, pivot or adjust after you launch. Success comes from flexibility not perfection.
- Susie Yoon Founder, Skinesque
Knowing and understanding your target market. When I started, I understood that the world of beauty, especially skincare, is something that pertains to all. However, it is not wise and even overwhelming to cast such a wide net when it comes to the ingredients, functionality, aesthetics and price point. We worked to create a price point that was in the masstige category. There was a time when I paid big dollars for my skincare products, but after much research and experience dealing with reputable manufacturers on a personal basis, I know that high price does not necessarily mean higher quality. And, as a mother of two, how I spend money on myself has changed, and my goal is to obtain loyal repeat customers.
If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.