In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’ve been talking to our Space NK family who also happen to be some of the beauty industry’s most successful brand founders, to answer some big questions about business, entrepreneurship and to discover their advice for women wanting to follow in their footsteps…
What Advice Would You Give To A Women Starting Out In Business?
“Always ask for help and don’t be shy. Whether you’re starting at your first job out of University or your own business, reach out to the people you admire in your industry. At the very least, they will have valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities you will face as you begin your adventure. And possibly, they could make an introduction or two, which could be very helpful,” says Margaret de Heinrich de Omorovicza, founder of Omorovicza.
“Stay true to your vision and don’t let people tell you things are not possible. I was given this same advice at the beginning of my career and I have always carried it with me, it’s an attitude that will take you a long way. You can achieve whatever you want to, you might just need a new approach or way of thinking. And always trust your judgement,” says Sarah Chapman, founder of Sarah Chapman.
“Surround yourself by people who are good at what you’re not good at. Start by identifying your strengths and weaknesses. If, for instance, you’re not good at finances but you are creative – seek help. I’m immensely grateful for the people I’ve worked with throughout my career and I’m a great believer in team work,” says Christine d’Ornano, global vice president of Sisley.
Is There One Thing You Wished You Knew When You Started?
“Keep stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, it’s so easy to get lost in the detail of the everyday,” says Annee de Mamiel, founder of De Mamiel.
“I have learnt so much along the way. I am a big believer in the fact that entrepreneurs have a certain naivety and it is this that enables us to take the risks we do. I started my business with a very clear vision of what I wanted to create but very little thinking about the actual business side of things,” says Sarah Chapman.
“Focus on your home country and the neighbors before taking the brand on the other side of the planet,” says Mathilde Thomas, co-founder of Caudalie.
“Building a brand isn’t easy, it’s so important to stay on top of your finances and have a great accounting team!” says Miranda Kerr, founder of Kora Organics.
“Don’t give up. People around you will doubt you, they will tell you that you shouldn’t take risks. You have to ignore that. It’s going to get hard, and at times it’s going to feel impossible, but those are the times you need to drive yourself the most,” says Maria Hatzistefanis, founder of Rodial.
Looking Back, Is There Anything You Would Have Done Differently?
“Ask for help sooner, rather than trying to battle through any problems. It can save time and endless hours of pondering. Others will have been there before and can help you find a solution. I’d also remind myself to listen to advice but ultimately remember that you need to make your own decisions,” says Annee de Mamiel, founder of De Mamiel.
“I would have listened to my inner voice earlier on about the things I know something about, but for whatever reason lacked confidence in recognising at the time,” says Kate Shapland, founder of Legology.
“I would worry less about how things will turn out and what others think. The more I have progressed in each role the more I have come to appreciate that things always work out in the end so the worry is a waste of energy. As long as you care for and motivate your team and stay true to giving the customer what they are looking for, things rarely go wrong,” says Anna Teal, CEO of Aromatherapy Associates.
What Surprises You In Business?
“The main challenge I’ve had as a woman is combining my career with motherhood. It takes time to realise that the guilt is useless and that you have to give your best when at work and your best when at home. My children are very proud of my career so now it is paying off and I would love them to work with me one day,” says Christine d’Ornano.
“The level of support and help that is around and that people want to share and help – that level of willingness is a life support,” says Annee de Mamiel.
“No matter how great family, friends and colleagues are at listening and advising (and I’m lucky enough to have some wonderful support), when they’re asleep and you’re wide awake in the middle of the night and feeling sick about cash flow or making a pivotal decision, it can be very lonely,” says Kate Shapland.
“It’s really important to be open minded when taking other people’s advice but ultimately remember to follow your gut and listen to your intuition,” says Miranda Kerr.
“I love the concept of intelligent naivety, some call it outsider mentality. Which I first really reflected on when I read Eating the Big Fish by Adam Morgan. When you work with people new to the industry, I love the freshness of perspective and ideas this can create. We are in the most wonderful industry where innovation in product, marketing and retail is at its core so constantly re-evaluating how things can be done and surprising yourself and others is important,” says Anna Teal.
What Have You Felt Grateful For?
“Exercise – it’s an essential for me! It allows me to clear my mind and process any issues going on in the business. Whether it is meditation or running, find a tool to help you through, you need something to keep things in perspective, provide clarity and to help you cope with the inevitable stresses. Pushing your limits for too long isn’t brave, it can actually lead to you feeling unwell so using this tool will give you strength and courage to keep going,” says Annee de Mamiel.
“I’m grateful to people for being open minded to unknown, niche brands not backed by huge conglomerates. We have a sophisticated, knowledgeable and educated customer who really understands the value of our product and are brave to be different and embrace the innovation,” says Sarah Chapman.
“I found being fired quite a liberating experience as it was the turning point of making the scary decision of doing what I always wanted to do, starting my own brand. Working in finance was not what motivated me, it was the wrong career for me, so getting fired wasn’t really a surprise as I wasn’t working to my full potential. I think that getting fired gives you the opportunity to self-reflect, and ensure the next move is the right fit for you,” says Maria Hatzistefanis.