Giving Thanks: Beauty Brand Founders Acknowledge Those Who’ve Made Their Businesses Possible

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 21 founders and executives: Other than yourself, who’s integral to making your brand work?

Aston LaFon Co-Founder, 18.21 Man Made

As we pursue this uniquely American dream, the odds of building a successful venture have always been stacked against us. We like to describe our entrepreneurial journey as being almost impossible. But, with so many great opportunities on the horizon, our vision is coming to fruition, and we wouldn’t have been able to chase this vision without the love and support of our families.

In our hearts, it’s always family first and business second, but, unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen in practice. Our wives and children selflessly support us through the tough spots and celebrate the wins. We love them more than salt, and they inspire us to move forward every day. For that, we will always be grateful.

Lucy Splichal Co-Founder, Cheeky Physique

So many people besides myself are integral to our brand. First and foremost, my fiancé and co-founder, Jesse. His strengths complement mine perfectly, and for a guy with a tech background, he is surprisingly astute about the beauty industry.

Our team of contractors who are rock stars at everything from fulfillment to graphic design to photography to customer service. Our friends and family who pitch in on weekends when we are in crunch mode. Our amazing sales reps and wholesale accounts, especially those that took a risk on us in the beginning. Our PR agency, EightSixtySouth, who truly feel like partners and brand champions. And, last but not least, our wonderful customers. Without their support and loyalty, we simply would not have a brand.

LaVonndra Johnson Founder and Creative Director, Elle Johnson Co.

My power player and overall go-to guy is my photographer, Glen Graham. Glen has been with me from the inception of the Elle Johnson brand. He’s a true team player, and always brings a positive and calming energy. Plus, he’s one heck of a photographer. Imagery is an integral part of communicating our brand message, and he’s always in tune with my vision. I am thankful to have him play such a vital role in my brand mark.

Patrice Rynenberg Co-Founder, Asarai

My mother and father-in-law manage and oversee all of our product development and manufacturing in Australia, so not only is their knowledge valuable, but we’re also very fortunate that we can trust them to push our formulations and ensure that we're releasing the best products on the market. They have strong relationships in Australia that keep us in touch with exciting new Australian botanicals that truly make our brand unique.

With their help running the product development and logistics, it allows my husband and me to focus on managing the branding and operations in the U.S. and continue to push our brand forward. We all wear multiple hats and are fortunate that we’re able to work together so cohesively, which is something not a lot of families can do together and something that we’re very thankful for.

Nisreen Azar Co-Founder, True Wild Botanics

The most integral elements to making True Wild Botanics work are my family, dear friends and the plants and landscapes that inspire our products. My main support and inspiration has been my husband and business partner, Scott Ward. Without his unconditional love and encouragement, True Wild would not exist.

It is a gift to have such a fun teammate who I trust implicitly with all decisions related to True Wild and life in general. My parents and brother have also been an amazing source of support. I am thankful to have such a solid family team, especially now with our newborn daughter in the mix. The old adage, "It takes a village," rings very true with having a newborn baby and also growing a small business.

Kelly Barker Founder, Prep Your Skin

Without a doubt, our designer Iwona keeps us on brand at all times. Aside from our branding, it takes really special team members to actually get the final goods out the door on time and in full. Jennifer Gann and Regina Rutman make all that happen, and I'm proud to work alongside these amazing ladies each and every day. We've grown by leaps and bounds and we are always learning and finding ways to improve our processes. It has been such a journey, and I'm so grateful to have these women in my life.

Noele Hammett Founder and CEO, One Skin

I am so grateful everyday that I have Leanne Molloy by my side on this journey. Not only is she an incredible ambassador of One Skin, supporting me in every step with an abundance of positivity, but Leanne is also my best friend.

We met when we were just 11 years old at school and went on to train as beauty therapists together in London. Leanne then lead my training department for my spa for 14 years and is now head of education at One Skin. I feel truly blessed to share this adventure together.

Dominique Caron Founder and CEO, Apoterra Skincare

There are so many people that work hard behind the scenes and make Apoterra succeed. First, is my production manager, Dan Boykin. She has been making our products for the last two-and-a-half years. Her attention to detail and work ethic has allowed us to grow without compromising on quality.

Our head photographer, Naomi Huober, who has helped develop our visual style, has also been essential.  My business mentor, Lester Thornhill, CEO of Life's Abundance, has helped me grow and focus as a CEO.  And, then, there are all the influencers, stockists, and loyal customers that support us. We literally would not exist without them.

Joi Rudd Co-Founder, Amala Beauty

Our chemist, Sanja Schuele, is profoundly integral to making it work. Sanja is our dedicated in-house chemist who creates all of Amala’s skincare formulas from scratch. She has a very open, collaborative, creative working style, and most importantly, an optimistic, can-do spirit.

Sanja is also a terrific communicator. Despite being one of the world’s premier natural cosmetic chemists, she can explain things to the rest of us in a very constructive, down-to-earth way. She develops incredible results-driven, proven, effective skincare formulas with amazing textures and fragrances using only natural, non-toxic ingredients and always on a very tight timeline. We are lucky to have her on our team, and we couldn’t make it work without her. 

Matthew Brown Co-Founder, Thomas Clipper

There are so many people behind Thomas Clipper that it's very hard to single out just one. But, as it's coming up to Christmas, the fulfillment team lead by Melissa is absolutely vital in getting our products packed up nicely and sent off quickly. So, we'd love to shout out to her and the rest of the team in the Midlands.

Debbi Burnes Founder, Sumbody

All the clichés such as it takes a village, many hands make light work, are truly applicable when you’re starting a business. It starts with the support of your family and extends to your suppliers and staff members.

Long hours, endless work and limited staff is the reality of many small startups. It is during this time that family can play a key role. My family not only picked up the slack at home but also did everything from help make products to working in our stores. My daughters were raised at Sumbody, and it became an integral part of who they are and their work ethic. My husband has been our on-call everything from computer issues to production snags.

Staffing is also a key part to success. Many small startups do not have the ability to pay what larger companies can and employees do everything and anything. Their job title can entail “whatever the day brings." It takes a certain dedicated, flexible and self-motivated person to keep up with these demands. I’ve been lucky to have so many amazing people over the years who have given Sumbody more than their hours of work, but also their hearts, caring and sincere concern for the company’s well-being. It takes this kind of support to launch and maintain a small business. Your staff is truly one of your most valuable assets.

Lastly, it takes a team of suppliers and vendors in those moments where you either run out of something or get a larger order than expected and need favors to get orders filled. The years, relationships and history with vendors can save the day. It’s the entire sum of your extended community that makes us successful. It is with both gratitude and heartfelt appreciation that I acknowledge the many giving people who have made Sumbody a success.

Laura Stearn CEO and Founder, Just Pure Essentials

As CEO and founder of a startup who has now been in business over five years, you can imagine all the hats I wear, how many important functions of the business I manage from product development, production, sales and marketing, graphic design, management to packing and shipping. You name it, I can do it.  But I have to give thanks to others for whom without there would be no company.

One is my wonderful husband, Michael Wieters, who has given me the luxury of the opportunity to start my own business again after having one in the fashion industry. His support, financially and emotionally, has allowed me to invest the necessary years of precious time, dollars and total dedication it takes to start and build a business. He has allowed me the financial freedom so that I could have the space necessary to realize my passion for making a difference in the world through healthy skincare alternatives.

In the early years of my company, we had a few really key consultants who I learned so much from: Vince Spinnato, Anna Johnston, Dr. Michael Krychman, John Gibson. Then, there are the wonderful women who work in our direct sales program. They devote their time and expertise to our products and company, educating their customers and re-selling our products. I couldn’t do it all without them, and I love working with them.

Last, I give great thanks to our customers. Without our loyal and caring customers, there would be no Just Pure Essentials. Without the consumer demand and support for clean natural skincare, there would be no sales. Without the sales, there would be no company. So, I am eternally grateful to each and every one of them who votes yes for clean skincare with their dollars.

Dara Levy Founder, Dermaflash

Finding a work-life balance is incredibly challenging. I eat, sleep and live Dermaflash. My husband, kids, mother and friends have all been incredibly understanding and supportive since I launched the brand and basically disappeared from their lives.

I am such a small part of the success of my brand. My entire team works tirelessly to make the magic happen. I am especially grateful to my general manager, Samantha Murphy, who uprooted her husband and kids to move to Chicago from California. Samantha’s incredible work ethic and dedication is incredibly inspirational. She loves the brand and her passion is contagious. Samantha will never settle for mediocrity and has instilled her only-the-best-will-do attitude in my team.

Faith Freeman Co-Founder, Primal Elements

Each member of our team is integral to the success of our company. Mitchell and Scott, both Freeman family members, handle the sales and marketing end of the business, and I am the chief creative officer. So, in order to create products and new designs, I am responsible for that area of the business. We have a great team in all facets of the business from production to shipping to office staff. Without the participation of all these teams, we would not get very far.

Haya Zarrin Founder, Myth Cosmetics

If it weren’t for my family MYTH wouldn't be a reality today. They are truly at the foundation of everything this brand represents to me. Becoming a wife and mom gave me so much perspective on myself, my path in life and the tools I want to give my son as he begins to find his place in this world. I named Baby Dragon Geode Liquid Lipstick not only as an ode to the the mythic beauty of dragons, but also as a nod to my son. He literally lit a fire inside me that gave me the courage to fulfill my vision for MYTH.

James La Founder, Niucoco

Yasmine Ishmael is one of the cornerstones of Niucoco. Despite her quiet demeanor, she has been a constant force in the development of this brand. She holds a master of science in biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University and is one of our co-founders.

Bringing her science background into play, she created a short but effective line-up of premium hair care products. Previously a research eirector, she brought not only her science but also her team leading and organizational skills. She is currently the face of our business in Asia and will be continuing her influence on growing Niucoco globally. Our team is very proud to have her with us.

Shanthi Priya Mahesh Marketing Executive, Neon & Co.

Customers are the most important stakeholders. We would not have a business without customers. While some businesses today differentiate their services with logistics or marketing, customer experience remains our most competitive tool.

In my opinion, customer service officer positions have equal prominence to other positions. They play a progressively important role for the small company since having in-house influence is very important when it comes to customer service. They communicate with the customers and within the company. If not, the company risks not having someone advocating for the customer at the highest levels of the organization.

Kelly Weston Co-Founder, Crunchi Cosmetic

We are fortunate to have a community of Crunchi Advocates that are educating women across the nation about our mission for safe beauty while offering Crunchi as a solution. One of our most significant accomplishments as a brand is the positive ripple effect this education is making on the health of our clients now and for generations to come as we see woman after woman detoxing their makeup bags. As Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” At Crunchi, we couldn’t agree more.

Joshua Scott Onysko Founder and CEO, Pangea Organics

I’ve always worked from a concept that the earth is the birthplace of any new product we create and also the end consumer. After the importance of the earth itself, we have our farmers who have dedicated their lives to growing the worlds' finest organically grown ingredients. After visiting dozens of farms around the world, I have a deep respect to all of the hard work it takes to grow our ingredients, it is truly a labor of love. Without the farmers, I’d have no palette from which to create.

Amanda McIntosh Founder, Take My Face Off

For Take My Face Off, it’s our graphic designer, Helen Kim of The Think Farm. We’re working hard to create a completely new category—high-performing, sophisticated alternatives to beauty disposables. It’s great to be early to the party, but that means we face a huge challenge in educating beauty consumers as to why they need our product. Helen is our greatest asset in dealing with this fundamental challenge.

Helen has been with us since the very beginning and really “gets” everything we’re trying to accomplish. She translates our message and aesthetic into packages, graphics, and illustrations that reinforce the message. She’s a rare combination of teacher, artist, communicator, and savvy consumer.

It takes a huge number of “cogs” to make a company work, so I hate to say one part or person is more important than the others. But I think communication is even more important for us than for other new brands. Helen helps us stay on-message, and to say things in a way that get us heard.

Pamela Friedman Founder, CV Skinlabs

We have a small great team, and each is integral to the business. Today, I would like to recognize and give thanks to Lauren. She's vital to the day-to-day flow of the business, and I truly couldn't do it without her. I’m grateful to her for her dedication and efforts to keep things flowing smoothly. She truly cares about the company and that’s invaluable. Her title is brand manager, but she does so much more.

It would be impossible to mention all she does. She’s essential to the daily managing of the order flow, troubleshooting any issue that comes up, and taking care of our customers – always with courteous, professional and helpful care. She faces each day with a positive attitude. Not only is she an important asset to the business, she’s a real team player, and truly a delight to work with, which for me is paramount in our company. I’m blessed and grateful to have Lauren on my team. Happy Thanksgiving All.

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