Skin Deep Leadership: Women Need To Lead Skincare Companies For Women
Just one. It’s all you need.
The skincare industry is mired in redundancies with so many products promising to solve one specific skin problem at a time. Dr. Mirela Mitan sought to change that, and after 25 years in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals research and development, the biochemist went off on her own.
The Romanian native working in this country since 2000 recently branched out to start her own skin care brand. She launched MMXV Infinitude, the Universal Facial Treatment, in October 2017. It’s a multi-functional face cream that eliminates the unnecessary steps in a daily skin care routine.
“There was so much confusion, and I felt it was not right for the consumer,” says Mitan. “I also believe the marketing people in cosmetics forgot the basics—that our skin is there to protect us. So it is counterproductive to have so many products for the skin,” says Mitan, whose line is sold online as well as in Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom and Cos Bar.
In 2011, after almost two decades in the cosmetics industry, Mitan went to New York University to earn her MBA so she could follow her dream of starting her own company.
“I told all my colleagues at the start my goal was to have my own skin care line,” Mitan says. “I went back to school because I cannot know everything.”
Her motivation was her knowledge that skincare needed to be simplified. “Why should you have seven products for your face and make it complicated?”
The cosmetics industry is still male-dominated. Mitan says this is not optimal because, “They do not use the products, but still the run the whole industry.”
According to Chloe Sorvino writing in Forbes, “There are at least 40 prominent beauty startups today founded by women, making the $445 billion (sales) industry one of the most prevalent places for women to self-start their way to big-time success. Not only is it a great place to start a business, it’s increasingly a good place to sell a business and make a tidy profit.”
Sorvino adds, “Sixty-two privately held beauty companies were acquired in 2016, 38 percent more than the previous year and a record since 2012, according to analytics firm CB Insights. So far in 2017, there have been 14 transactions, says CB Insights. Experts predict that 2017 will keep up with, if not surpass, last year’s number of deals. That could spell even more good news for self-made women building beauty businesses.”
Joy Chen writes in Entrepreneur, “Though the beauty industry fares better in comparison to other sectors such as health, banking, technology and energy, beauty brands still have an average of just 29 percent female leadership across boards and executive teams, according to the LedBetter Gender Equality Index.”
According to the Index, Chen writes, “leading companies such as L Brands (parent of Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret) and Coty (parent of brands like Sally Hansen, NYC Color, Marc Jacobs fragrance and more) had no women at all on their executive teams as of June 2016, although Coty has since hired a woman as president of its professional beauty division, who is part of the company’s executive committee, according to a company spokesperson.”
That may be changing, as at the recent Beauty and Money conference in California, nine of the 17 speakers were women.
As an entrepreneur and product innovator, Mitan offers these seven lessons to any entrepreneur and startup creator, regardless of industry.
Recruit people who can help you create your product. “When you are a small entity you will always have challenges from day one. You have to have a team and find all the right people.”
Education on the product is the biggest challenge. “Everyone loves the idea, likes the story, the product the packaging Having one sophisticated solution is the biggest challenge.”
Stay with your core expertise. “If you do not, that prompts so many other mistakes. If you have a dream, become an expert in your area.”
Do not exaggerate how much you can do. “You will spend more time and money to get your product to market as it takes longer than you expect for design and whatever.”
Learn exactly what is happening in your supply chain. “You think you can have 500 bottles, but you need 10,000.”
Be precise in quality and quantity. “You have to satisfy the customer every time on delivery.”
Too many cooks is a disaster. “It is like seven cooks in the kitchen. You haver to have one person make the decision.”
With her goal to create a $1 billion global brand, Mitan says, “I don’t know it that is in 5, 10, 20 or 25 years.”
But she does know that a skincare line for women needs a woman behind the company.
Mitan recently returned to her alma mater NYU where she earned her MBA to speak to students.
“I told them that five years ago I was there listening to other people. Now I am telling you how you can grow a business from scratch.” She adds, You cannot be wrong if your first priority is your client.”
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldonwww.micheleweldon.com