Beauty Entrepreneurs And Executives Applaud The People Who Mentor And Inspire Them

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 24 brand founders and executives: Do you have any mentors or people you turn to for encouragement, motivation and inspiration?

Tracy Adkins Founder, Jivana

I love, love, love Bobbi Brown. Since she started I have read about her, watched her on the "Today" show and participated in her webinar. She is so real, honest and humble in addition to being an entrepreneur, mother, wife, woman, advocate, leader and businesswoman.  To me, that is the pinnacle of success.

DANIELLE GRONICH Co-Founder, CLEARstem Skincare

We love our media coach Abbey Gibb! She is a badass reporter turned media strategist who is helping us fine-tune our message and make sure we are always on point so we can make the most out of every opportunity. She helps us remember what resonates with people and how to show up as our best, most influential selves because we are thought leaders, not merely skincare enthusiasts!

Moumita Sahoo Founder, Zaila

My biggest inspiration always comes from small business owners. I’m fascinated by other entrepreneurs who are just normal people like me, taking risks and starting businesses of all kinds. Whenever I see a small brand’s behind-the-scenes content on social media, I feel more motivated and encouraged than when I hear famous celebrity stories.

My closest mentors and motivators are also those who are small business owners themselves and are willing to share their wealth of information. It is so important to realize that we all need each other in the entrepreneur world, and I’m always happy to share what I have learned with anyone else who is starting their own journey.

Shani Darden Founder, Shani Darden Skin Care

I’m lucky to have a network of strong women who are building their own businesses that I can reach out to for advice and support. Jessica Alba was actually the person who convinced me to go out on my own and open my first studio in my old guest house. Without her encouragement, I might not have ever taken that leap of faith. I’ve never built a skincare company before, so I really trust and value the advice I get from these women who have succeeded in building their own businesses.

LISSETTE MONZON Founder, Lilly Be

I have so many. Let’s start with this outlet itself, Beauty Independent. I joined BI when it launched and have learned so much about this industry since. Currently, I am loving the weekly webinars with [Beauty Independent publisher] Nader [Naeymi-Rad] that launched during COVID. The entire BI team definitely knows how to motivate, educate and inspire the indie beauty entrepreneur. 

I also get inspired by stories and posts from successful entrepreneurs who faced challenges yet overcame them: Sara Blakely, Gary Vaynerchuk and many others who were told “no” but pursued their dreams anyway. 

Ultimately, I gain the most inspiration from my immediate family. My parents are my greatest supporters and help me overcome challenges. I look up to my parents and their many accomplishments. They have instilled qualities of perseverance and focus in myself and my three sisters. Perseverance and determination are requirements of being an entrepreneur because it is not always a smooth road.

BEATRICE DIXON Founder and CEO, The Honey Pot

I have mentors from all walks of life, from my mother to Richelieu Dennis to my team to my inner circle of friends and family. I know I can reach out to any of the individuals in my tribe for advice and insight, and I will get that from them and so much more.

ALLISON MOSS Founder and CEO, Type:A

The last role I had was supporting an indie beauty brand led by a strong female CEO, Margaret Kress of Toppik. Her vision, passion, determination and resilience were inspiring. She remains someone I can call on for encouragement and advice.

Mila Moursi Founder, Mila Moursi Paris

I have many incredible people in Europe and in the United States that are amazing mentors and advisors. One of my biggest influences was Dr. Louis Renaud, a renowned French chemist who created many of the luxurious and timeless formulas of prestige skincare houses all over the world.

After studying under him in Paris, I came to the United States passionate about cosmetic chemistry and started my own spa and line. However, in the present moment, my motivation and inspiration is my team of chemists and estheticians as well as my clients. I could not have been successful without them.

JENNI TUOMINEN Founder and Creative Director, Henua Organics

Oh, tons! Being a startup entrepreneur, mom and woman, I breathe inspiration from people!

Especially during this time when everything is uncertain, you really need encouragement. I just saw a very powerful speech of Elizabeth Gilbert talking about spiritual practices. I read a lot, currently The Energy Codes by Dr. Sue Morter. I listen to different podcasts—Goop lately—and watch YouTube TED Talks, and then just watch how the heck my sister, co-founder of Henua, does all she does! 

She is doing thousands of things at the same time, from being CEO, being an entrepreneur, training for triathlon, riding horses, taking care of an old huge farmhouse, being a really good mom, and just being there for me and everyone else. I mean, wow. She is very inspiring, and I am so lucky to run this business with her.

Dillon Peña Creator, Leland Francis

When Leland Francis was in the brainstorm phase, I met Susanne Langmuir, the founder of Bite Beauty. I was doing her makeup ,and I told her about my idea for a face oil.  She told me to go for it. That bit of encouragement led me to bite the bullet.

I think many people look at Bobbi Brown as a source of motivation. As a makeup artist and entrepreneur as well, I think she serves as inspiration not only for me, but a lot of brands. When I see brands that launch with five to ten lipsticks, I think of her automatically.  I was lucky enough to work with her for a few years, and she has posted about Leland Francis. I’ve also been lucky to meet the lovely Cristina Carlino, who started Philosophy, and she has been a great sounding board and has given me amazing direction.

YOKI KIVA HANLEY Owner and President, Itiba Beauty

Lisa Price has been an inspiration for me. I see what she has done with her business and the steps she took to grow it and ensure its longevity and that is what I want to be able to do as well. When I first started out on this path, everyone would always say that my story reminded them of Carol’s Daughter, Mrs. Price’s company. Some would jokingly call me the Carol’s Daughter of the Caribbean. A friend gave me her book, and I read it on a plane ride to Los Angeles for a meeting for businesses that operate within the insular territories. [She moved] from her kitchen to a little larger space and, then finally, to her own facility and stores! 

I saw the parallels with my own company and the path that I am on, and it gave me the motivation to continue down this path. Richelieu Dennis of Sundial Brands is another source of inspiration for me. Literally, what he is doing is what I want to be able to someday do for my own community here in the U.S. Virgin Islands. To be able to strategically sell your company, but ensure that there is a concrete and tangible way to give back to the community that has helped make this happen and to ensure that there will be future Black women entrepreneurs is admirable and necessary amongst corporations. 

Another person who has become a business mentor of mine and friend is Patricia Reinders of SULA NYC. We met at an event for Caribbean business women that was sponsored by Caribbean Posh Magazine in the British Virgin Islands. It was so inspiring to see a fellow Caribbean woman in beauty who has made it. I was so excited and grateful when she came up to me and said she would love to be able to help me get my business seen on a larger scale and decided to be my mentor. She has given me—and still gives me—great advice and guidance as I move along this path in natural skincare and how I can best make the necessary next steps as I grow my company.

PAAYAL MAHAJAN Founder, Essential Body

My father is and always has been my greatest mentor! I am blessed to have parents who taught me that I could do literally anything I wanted to. They instilled a very strong sense of discipline, courage, resilience and the importance of being a good human being. There are people in the world living and gone who have inspired me and continue to inspire me. I am constantly learning and don’t intend to stop ever.

I have also had the honor of having the incredible Ms. Bobbi Brown share her mindspace and guidance with me. This lady has been inspiring me since I was 15! Everything about her is what I aspire to be as an entrepreneur and as a human being. She is real, humble, supremely helpful, has zero airs, is patient, really listens, does not spin bullshit, is not selfish and will always give the realest advice possible. I am not prone to being star struck at all, but I will admit, when I met her for the first time, the 15-year-old girl in my heart was dancing big-time happy dances!

Adodo Robinson Founder, Delali Robinson Cosmetics

I have few amazing people I look to for encouragement and inspiration. I am also part of several Facebook Groups that share great contents and tips for entrepreneurs: Bozoma John, Pat McGrath, Joyce Dawkins, 25_bwb and Private Label Insider, to name a few.

Jasmine Wicks-Stephens Founder, Faace

Excellent, strong female bosses that have shaped my development and ultimately my brand. Working at top agencies that have spanned across the health, fashion and beauty sectors, each of these women have been under different pressures and, therefore, had different things to offer in terms of advice. However, there’s always been a common thread in the way they’re all very creative, driven, extremely hard-working, like next level hard, direct and strong, but also compassionate, kind and understanding. 

Some of the things they taught me include how to make a product stand out, how to sell a story, why it’s important to have an understanding of the consumer you’re trying to target, why it’s really important to be up to speed with the latest trends, culturally and industry-wise. These things ultimately prepared me to make a brand that would stand out.

JAMILA POWELL Founder, Naturally Drenched

My brand evolved through real-life experience and brainstorming with friends and family. I have a core group that has been a great sounding board and support system for all my endeavors. This group also includes other entrepreneurs who understand the ups and downs of running a business and have input on how to move my business forward. When I feel stuck, instead of keeping these emotions in, I take a moment to express my frustrations and it helps to clear my mind. Once I let those out, I can tackle the obstacle.

ROCHONNE SANCHEZ Co-Founder, Eossi Beauty

We’ve been lucky enough to have an amazing group of mentors in our past who’ve driven us to this point of entrepreneurship, but the most important factor of all is our partnership. On the days when we feel like we can’t handle one more piece of bad news,or when the tasks ahead of us appear too large to tackle, we look to each other for strength and support. Through our partnership, we’ve learned more about ourselves and the value of a strong bond than any of our past experiences have taught us.

Kelley Martin CMO, Skyn Iceland

I have a strong network of former colleagues from my previous roles at Clinique, Bare Minerals and Shiseido who continually serve as a resource and sounding board. My former managers in these roles now serve as my mentors to provide encouragement, motivation and inspiration.

JAMIKA MARTIN Founder, Rosen Skincare

I've gained mentors in so many different places, and I always recommend young, bootstrapped founders do the same. Pretty soon, that new person you're connected to traces back through this convoluted path to someone you met two years ago. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

MARY-ANDRÉE ARDOUIN-GUERRIER Founder and CEO, Loving Culture

My mentors come from various disciplines and backgrounds. I am also an academic (doctoral candidate), so I love learning from people who are committed to research, education and health. In addition, I love learning from spiritual gurus, other entrepreneurs, resources like Beauty Independent, my husband and our two sons, even my students. I am an adjunct college professor as well. Inspiration for me can come from anywhere, literally.

Jennifer Freitas Founder, The Truth Beauty Company

I believe I am inspired by the company I keep. Specifically relating to my career, I have a network of friends from within the clean beauty space that I consider to be mentors. Their experience, connections, knowledge are all invaluable to me. I admire these individuals for their resilience, dedication and integrity. I trust that, if I am faced with a hurdle or something I want to learn more about, I could go to any one of these people and be offered sage advice. I continue to be inspired by their growth and innovation and I am excited to be working alongside them.

Nichole Wright Founder and CEO, Satrell Beauty

I have family and friends that I speak with about my business, and they make sure that I don’t stray from the path I have set for myself. I have wanted to create my own beauty line for a while, but I always found reasons to not move forward with my plan. Having them in my corner has definitely encouraged, motivated, and inspired me to finally launch my beauty line. 

My main benefactors throughout this process have been my husband and two boys because my beauty line is named after my boys (Sa [for] Samuel, trell [for] Dontrell). I want Satrell Beauty to be a success for them too because they are watching me build a business from the ground up. Despite our current environment, I want them to understand that they will have a legacy to uphold when the time comes.

Jasmine Lewis Founder and CEO, Vie Beauty

I feel it is imperative to have a few that serve different purposes like a business mentor and a spiritual one. I draw inspiration and motivation from those that find a way when all of the odds were against them and people that consistently show up for themselves. There are so many amazing women that have paved the way for me to excel, and I hope to do the same for others. 

Alycia Washington Owner, Cobalt Honey Skincare

I participate in a few online entrepreneur groups, and I’m motivated every time I hear someone else’s story and success. I also have a close friend who is an entrepreneur outside of the beauty space. We turn to each other for encouragement, motivation, tips and resources. It’s tremendously helpful to have someone who understands the struggles of getting a business off the ground and a friend who is supportive whenever there are setbacks or hesitations.

Shai Eisenman CEO and Founder, Bubble Skincare

We have an incredible advisory board who have been a huge support throughout the process of launching the brand. They helped in strategic planning and thinking and ensuring we're learning constantly and improving on a regular basis.

If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs, please send it to [email protected].