How Indie Beauty Entrepreneurs Effectively Manage Their Teams

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 12 founders and executives: What’s the hardest part of being a manager, and how do you approach the challenge with your team?

Yin Yin Wu Co-Founder and CEO, Botany Skincare

Managing a brand can be overwhelming since there are so many tasks to work on. The hardest part is to make sure the team understands the branding, and that what they deliver properly aligns with the branding message and is consistent throughout all marketing and sales tasks.

We approach the challenge by having a weekly team discussion to review both delivered and planned tasks to make sure everyone is on the same page. It is important that each team member understands the whole branding vision.

Rooshy Roy Co-Founder and CEO, Aavrani

I’ve found that managing people can be extremely rewarding, yet incredibly difficult, especially in the early stages. We spend a ton of time during our interview processes to make sure the applicant is a good fit for the job, but also a good fit for the team. These are the people I am relying on to help turn dreams into reality, so they must be equipped with holistic skills.

Balancing the growth of my team and the personal growth of each team member is difficult. We make sure to constantly provide and receive feedback, so that each member of the team feels fulfilled and excited every day. If that’s not happening, we make a change and adapt.

Jessica Kizovski Founder and Lead Formulator, Veriphy

When starting a brand, you have complete control over almost all aspects of your brand: packaging, formulation, marketing, etc. As you grow, you will have to pass on responsibilities or it will hurt your brand.

Giving away some responsibility is definitely difficult, but learning to coach your team to represent the brand the way you want is a key piece. Your team needs to believe in your brand, products and, ultimately, you. Make sure you surround yourself with team members who share your drive for success.

Lauren Haynes Founder, Wooden Spoon Herbs

For me, relinquishing the reigns is really hard. Wooden Spoon Herbs is my baby! I think a lot of small business owners can relate, but, in reality, sharing responsibilities in no way discounts ownership. Delegating is a form of self-care.

Yoel Vaisberg Founder and CEO, Haielle

Being a manager of an indie brand with limited resources is a completely different ball game from being a manager in an established company with a steady cash flow as I was in my first 10 years of experience in the beauty industry. Indie brands in their early stages need to deal in general with limited investments, unsteady cash flows, lack of established processes, and multitasking job descriptions.

Developing a brand is very challenging and requires a super talented and committed team. However, the resources to reward this team accordingly are not available yet. This generates a chicken and egg circle because the resources will become available as the project develops, and sales are achieved.

As leaders of these teams, it’s important to master our soft skills and balance them with hard skills. We need to reach the perfect balance of communication, patience and motivation. It's more an art than a science.

Francelle Daly Founder and CEO, Lovecraft Beauty

The hardest part is managing expectations, not only as a founder, but as a CEO. We are a very small brand, and it is important to wear a lot of hats and multitask. It is also important not to work too fast. That is when mistakes happen. Also, to ask questions. If you do not know something, ask, so it is done correctly the first time.

Beatrice Feliu Espada CEO and Founder, The Honey Pot Company

The hardest thing about being a manager is that you must truly embrace the fact that you need to manage yourself. I’ve learned that understanding my North Star of where the company needs to live present and future is paramount.

But a lot of that understanding comes from me making sure I’m nurturing myself mentally and physically to be able to help my team create the best working environment for them to do the work to nurture and grow our company.

This is a very recent thing for me, but using meditation and being present has really helped keep me clear to have foresight on how we move as an organization. It sounds like some hippie shit, but I’m a conscious capitalist... shout out to John Mackey.  

Kirsten Thomas Founder, Ayr Skin Care

I've owned a number of businesses before, so the personnel end of things has always been the easiest for me. I also worked in human relations for other companies, and I like people. The most difficult part about managing a company is thinking that you should do it all yourself. You need to see the good qualities and talents of those that you hire, and nurture that.  

I had one employee who had completed part of her degree, but then had children. Her self-esteem was very low, and she thought all she was good at was making casseroles for potlucks. I encouraged her and also found tasks around the office that she learned and, then, excelled at. Over time, we encouraged her to return to school and allowed her to work around her school schedule. When she got her degree she was so excited and really felt that we had been with her every step of the way.  

I think a lot of business managers have difficulty trusting their instincts and also trusting their employees. Having faith enough in yourself to hire the right people and, then, giving them chances to prove to themselves and others that they can do more than they think is the best way to approach personnel. Have regular staff meetings and give them small awards for their accomplishments, even if it's movie tickets or a candy bar with a fancy bow, something telling them that they are special. They will rise to your expectations.

Have a calendar so you can stay on top of regular reviews. Not only does this make your employees happy to have one-on-one time and discuss their position, but it gives you a chance to find out what their dreams are, and what they want to do moving forward. There are ways to try to align with this on an individual basis if you make that a personal goal.

Also, when you have regular reviews and document them, you have recourse if a disgruntled employee decides to say that they have been let go for no reason. Not nice to think about, but important to document anything during a review just in case.

Zane Piese Founder, Atlantis Skincare

There are lots of learnings, every day.  I think it’s important to be honest about the skills within the team and, for any areas of weakness, don’t be afraid to identify these gaps and bring in support and expertise from outside the team, if required. We’re a family-run business, which works brilliantly for us as we can be honest with each other, and we’re very aware of our different areas of expertise.

Jennifer Freitas Founder and CEO, The Truth Beauty Company

As the CEO, I have a hard time balancing a personal relationship with a professional one with my core staff. We work so intimately together, and I really consider them to have my back, so to speak. So, when the relationship changes, sometimes, for me, it feels personal. I really need to meditate on staff changes to accept it as part of business.

When personal and professional situations arise, I like to reach out to my business contacts and get insight, perhaps they have experienced a similar situation and can provide me with coping tips. I feel their perspective is valuable as it is a shared experience. It truly is important to have mentors.   

David Simnick CEO and Co-Founder, Soapbox

Being a startup company oftentimes communication can fall through the cracks. We're all incredibly busy working on a ton of projects and leads, so it's not uncommon that communication can be an issue. We try to work on this by sharing project updates and meeting summaries.

Natrujee Chinsukserm Founder, Shea U

This is a great question. It not easy dealing with different attitudes and personalities. One of the toughest aspects of being a manager and brand founder is being able to articulate my vision to our team and work together to achieve the goals.

I think the best way to demonstrate value between team members is through communication. I involve them in decision-making in an effort to create a better work environment. I’m willing to have critical conversations so we can solve problems together and foster good teamwork. I’m never afraid to ask for their opinion on a new client offer. Also, if someone does a great job, I always give them a shout out in front of the rest of the team.

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