Career Advice from Women in the Beauty Industry - Fashionista

What 11 Female Beauty-Industry Leaders Wish They'd Known At the Start of Their Careers

Ignore the haters, trust your gut and never let anyone tell you "no."
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Kirsten Kjaer Weis at work. Photo: Courtesy Kjaer Weis

Kirsten Kjaer Weis at work. Photo: Courtesy Kjaer Weis

The beauty industry is one that caters mainly to women. And yet, historically, it's been run mostly by men. But these 11 female entrepreneurs and CEOs have done their part to shatter that unjust paradox, carving their own paths in the beauty industry, an oh-so-saturated market. We spoke with a few of our favorite brand founders and CEOs – all of whom happen to be female – about the lessons they've learned along the way, as well as what they wish someone had taught them before they started out on this path. Listen up.  

Kirsten Kjaer Weis, founder of Kjaer Weis (shown above)

Danish-born, New York-based makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis created her brand, Kjaer Weis, as an attempt to launch a sustainable yet luxe beauty brand. The organic products are high-performance with an equally high-quality packaging, melding the worlds of luxe and all-natural.

The biggest #JobGoals lesson she's learned so far: "I would say the biggest lesson I've learned is to stay true to yourself. There will be people along the way that come from a good place and try to be supportive by giving you advice, but they can get in the way. They will suggest that things are good enough, but you should never settle. You can't listen to too much outside noise. You just have to stay true to what you feel in your gut is the right path."

Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, founders of Glow Recipe

Sarah Lee and Christine Chang. Photo: Courtesy of Glow Recipe

Sarah Lee and Christine Chang. Photo: Courtesy of Glow Recipe

Glow Recipe's co-founders Sarah Lee and Christine Chang are well-known in the beauty world for creating a highly curated K-beauty destination (and for getting successfully funded on "Shark Tank"). The site has made natural Korean beauty products accessible to women around the world, and continues to bring the top Korean beauty trends to all markets.

The career wisdom she wishes she'd known at the start of her journey: "Make as many friends as possible; networking is everything for an entrepreneur. I'm immensely grateful for the network I have now, but I had many more opportunities to be proactive about networking and finding mentors that could have given me insights on running a startup. This is one of the reasons why I'm incredibly passionate about mentoring and impacting the lives of young entrepreneurs and other great talents." —Lee 

The biggest #JobGoals lesson she's learned so far: "To choose a field that you are truly passionate about. Though learning to build and run a business is one of the toughest, most challenging things I've experienced, every day is simply worth it because I love what I do. I'm obsessed with beauty, and it's a joy to be able to discover new brands, test new products, to teach and vlog about K-beauty and skin care, and to share beauty innovations across borders and cultures, because I really enjoy it. I know Sarah is the exact same way and I believe that our enthusiasm trickles down to every aspect of what Glow Recipe does and stands for." —Chang

Kirsten Carriol, founder of Lanolips

Kirsten Carriol. Photo: Courtesy of Lanolips

Kirsten Carriol. Photo: Courtesy of Lanolips

Kirsten Carriol spent most of her childhood playing on her grandparents' sheep farm in Southern Australia, where her father (a DNA professor who strongly believed in all things natural) would use the lanolin from the shorn wool as a moisturizer. When Carriol set out (after years in beauty PR) to find a moisturizer that worked as well as that lanolin she'd used as a little girl, she realized she had to make her own, and Lanolips was born.

The career wisdom she wishes she'd known at the start of her journey: "If you really, really love something and you're good at it, no matter how crazy it may seem, you can probably make a career out of it. In my case, I was a beauty junkie. Don't give up; be patient and persistent. Passion gets you far. You don't have to do something boring as a career."

Rose-Marie Swift, founder of RMS Beauty

Rose-Marie Swift. Photo: Courtesy of RMS Beauty

Rose-Marie Swift. Photo: Courtesy of RMS Beauty

Rose-Marie Swift is a veteran makeup artist, having worked with celebrities and on editorials for more than 35 years. When she started experiencing health issues, her doctor noted that it was due to toxic levels of heavy metals in her blood, which could be due in part to her exposure to so many types of cosmetics. Swift set out to create an organic line of makeup that would yield professional-looking results with her line, RMS Beauty.

The biggest #JobGoals lesson she's learned so far: "Never, ever take no for an answer. Still, to this day, I get told it can't be done. Also: Don't trust everybody. You must take off your rose-colored glasses and really stay focused on your mission. And most of all, know your stuff."

Lina Hanson, founder of Lina Hanson's Global Beauty

Lina Hanson. Photo: Courtesy of Lina Hanson

Lina Hanson. Photo: Courtesy of Lina Hanson

Lina Hanson is the founder of Lina Hanson's Global Beauty, an organic skin-care line that uses only 100 percent cruelty-free ingredients that she sources from all over the world. Hanson is a makeup artist, and the products are created with ingredients sourced during her travels.

The biggest #JobGoals lesson she's learned so far: "Hitting the pause button and taking some time off is essential. When you're a small-business owner, it's so easy to become engulfed in your work. In the beginning, I'd spend so many hours a day working on aspects of the business. I'd even feel guilty sometimes when I wasn't working on it. In recent years, I've definitely learned that taking little breaks throughout the day or taking a day off has helped me both creatively and mentally. Finding that right balance is a constant task, but I'm getting closer to it by learning a bit more about self-care."

Sabrina Tan, founder of Skin Inc.

Sabrina Tan. Photo: Courtesy of Skin Inc.

Sabrina Tan. Photo: Courtesy of Skin Inc.

Sabrina Tan was inspired by technology from Japan when she founded her innovative skin-care line, Skin Inc. The product offers the world's first supplement bar, giving customizable beauty solutions for various skin-care concerns.

The career wisdom she wishes she'd known at the start of her journey: "Ignore the haters. I had a successful career in the tech industry and started Skin Inc. as a young mother. Many people didn't believe I could do it, but you can't please everybody, especially when you're out to change the world. I chose a path that was very different from the rest of the cosmetics industry and believed it was possible to create a simple, fuss-free, custom skin-care routine. If you believe in your vision, just ignore people who don't and soldier on."

Joy Chen, CEO of H2O+ Beauty

Joy Chen. Photo: Courtesy H2O+ Beauty

Joy Chen. Photo: Courtesy H2O+ Beauty

Joy Chen, the current CEO of H2O+ Beauty, just took the brand through a complete re-launch, focusing on e-commerce and marketing innovation instead of its initial drive toward manufacturing. As the former CEO of Yes To, Chen knows how to dig her heels in for a total brand turnaround; hence the strategic shift with H2O+ Beauty.

The career wisdom she wishes she'd known at the start of her journey: "One of my mentors told me something that has rung especially true in recent months: Having the right team is more important than strategy. As a leader, it's my job to assemble a team that fits our company's overall culture, while cultivating an environment in which everyone feels they can succeed. This leads to amazing results, as we've seen with the new H2O+ Beauty team. The success of our recent re-branding is largely due to the cohesiveness of this team, with everyone encouraging hard work and support for their colleagues to reach a mutual goal."

Lisa Price, founder of Carol's Daughter

Courtesy Carol's Daughter

Courtesy Carol's Daughter

Lisa Price founded natural beauty line, Carol's Daughter, in her kitchen in Brooklyn back in the '90s. After selling her products at flea markets, she gained a cult following due to early use of ingredients like monoi oil and cocoa butter, and the official brand was formed.

The biggest #JobGoals lesson she's learned so far: "The biggest lesson is to not fear failure. It's a part of the process,  not the end of everything. I operated as if I was supposed to be perfect all the time, and I have to say the failures and challenges are what shaped me into who I am now, and I wouldn't trade that for anything."

Shannon Dellimore, co-founder of Glamglow

Shannon Dellimore. Photo: Courtesy of Glamglow

Shannon Dellimore. Photo: Courtesy of Glamglow

Co-founder of cult mask line Glamglow, Shannon Dellimore, was on a quest to find a way to get the results of an expensive Hollywood facial from a mask, so she teamed up with her husband to make her own. The result? A homemade Hollywood success story.

The biggest #JobGoals lesson she's learned so far: "To get out of my comfort zone and not fear taking risks. Before my husband Glenn and I founded Glamglow, I worked as a paralegal at one of L.A.'s premier entertainment law firms representing Hollywood's top celebrities. I had a successful career in a highly demanding profession and I was afraid to leave. Glenn convinced me to quit my job so I could devote full time to Glamglow, and I'm so glad he did. I used all the same skills to help build one of the most successful skin-care lines in the world, and now I'm fearless. Women often doubt themselves more than men do. It's important for us to change that way of thinking, have confidence and take risks."

Susanne Kaufmann, founder of Susanne Kaufmann

Susanne Kaufmann. Photo: Courtesy of Susanne Kaufmann

Susanne Kaufmann. Photo: Courtesy of Susanne Kaufmann

Susanne Kaufmann is an Austrian-born holistic skin-care specialist, who was always interested in the healing powers of nature. She turned that interest into a spa career, and then an internationally renowned product line.

The career wisdom she wishes she'd known at the start of her journey: "Always listen to your instincts. While in the process of creating a skin-care line, there were many times I thought of maybe doing something different or changing an item, but I trusted my gut in every step, and that's why 13 years later we've grown so quickly from a relatively small and local production in Austria to a worldwide [company]."

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