Fashion, Beauty & Tech Insiders Talk Finding Meaning in Your Work
If you’re reading this post, it’s likely that you’re passionate about working in fashion, beauty or tech. Although there are many possible career paths within these fields, some of you may have wondered how to pursue these paths while also making a greater impact on the world around you. With that in mind, I’ve reached out to three women who’ve successfully built careers in fashion, beauty and tech and figured out how to give back to the community in their own unique way!
Michelle Blue, Co-Founder of Bené Scarves
Bené scarves (derived from the word “good”) was founded in 2013 by best friends, Michelle & Sasha. The company provides girls in Ghana the tools to be able to complete their secondary education and fulfill their dreams!
What sparked the idea for Bene Scarves?
[blockquote_sty ver="1 or 2"]While I was a student at the University of Georgia, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Ghana. Forever changed by the experience and the girls that I met, my best friend Sasha and I were inspired to start Bené![/blockquote_sty]
How did you get your start?
[blockquote_sty ver="1 or 2"]When Sasha and I first got the idea to start Bené we wanted to launch a full collection of clothes...with everything you could imagine from dresses, jackets and even baby bowties. Since we had no experience in the fashion industry, we quickly realized our lack of knowledge and lack of money, and quickly became overwhelmed. After that, we realized that we needed to start smaller and have more of a focus, which is when we decided to launch the scarf collection.[/blockquote_sty]
How has your business specifically helped other people?
[blockquote_sty ver="1 or 2"]When we started Bené, we knew that we wanted to make a difference in the girls lives that I’d met on my trip to Ghana. We knew that it had to be sustainable and something greater than the two of us. Through Bené, we have committed to sponsoring tuition, books, supplies and uniforms to the girls so that they can continue their education. The girls have their own dreams and aspirations of becoming teachers, doctors and nurses and its great knowing that we are helping them make those dreams a reality.
You see, when you educate girls, you’re not just educating them, you’re changing their lives, their family lives, and you’re contributing to their countries economies too. That’s the sort of impact that can change the world. And if we can be apart of that… I think that’s awesome![/blockquote_sty]
What is your advice to women looking to merge interests in fashion with a desire to make a difference in their work?
[blockquote_sty ver="1 or 2"]Go for it! A lot of times starting a business or trying to make an impact can seem very daunting, but start where you are and do what you can.
We can all do our part, whether it is starting a fashion company, working with a non-profit or even volunteering on the weekends. There really is no impact that is too small.”[/blockquote_sty]
Alexandra McCormick Global PR and Artistry for BareMinerals
Born in Australia, Alexandra is a former professional ballerina turned makeup artist & QVC guest for BareMinerals. She loves making YouTube videos, as well as anything to do with beauty, fashion and fitness!
Can you describe how you got your start in beauty?
It was almost by accident! I was “retiring" from a career that had essentially consumed my entire life (ballet) and was trying to think about what else I was passionate about. My mum taught me, from a young age, how to look after my skin properly and I had always loved putting on makeup, so it just felt natural.
Can you explain some of the responsibilities of your job?
My job is different every day, which is why I love it. I’m constantly traveling. Some days I’ll be in LA or New York at events, doing makeup and connecting with influencers & celebrities. Every month or so I’m also traveling to the east coast for QVC. But if I’m not traveling, you can find me at home making YouTube videos, which I absolutely LOVE!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Making other people feel beautiful!
What is an example of a time that you've be able to help someone through your work?
I try to help someone every time I get the opportunity. When women feel self conscious or insecure about their appearance, I love to turn that around. It’s crazy because sometimes I work with people who are beyond beautiful (inside and out) and I can’t understand how they could be feeling that way! It makes you realize that EVERYONE has something they feel insecure about and that’s what makes us human. We are perfectly imperfect!
Can you describe what it feels like to find your calling or "purpose" through your career?
For me, work shouldn’t feel like work. When I was a ballerina I definitely had days where I didn’t want to get out of bed and train for 10 hours & some days I thought, “why am I putting myself through this?” But then I would walk out on stage and it all made sense.
At the end of the day it’s what I was most passionate about. It’s the same now. I feel completely passionate about what I do. Helping people feel beautiful is very rewarding, and it’s not just about putting a bunch of makeup on them, it’s getting them to see what they already have. I believe that every single woman is beautiful in a million different ways. Makeup is just the frosting!
Gina Kohler, Co-Founder of BeautyKind
Gina Kohler is an executive cosmetic junkie who has helped shaped many of the brands that we know and love. Today, she is the Co-Founder of BeautyKind, an online retailer that helps consumers shop for top tier beauty products, while also giving back to the charities they support
Can you describe how you got your start in the beauty industry?
My first job after graduating from UCLA was in Public Relations. I spent three years working on promoting consumer goods and on one beauty brand. Pitching press for that one brand changed everything. I was hooked!
When I moved onto my next role, which was still in marketing and communications at a nutritional supplement and beauty company, I pushed the executives to give me an opportunity at product development. Ultimately, they relented and that was the start!
What are the biggest challenges about working in this industry?
That’s a big question. I think for every aspect of this business, there are challenges. If you are in product development, it’s finding the creativity to develop something new and different than what’s out there — and within the cost parameters necessary. If you are in marketing or advertising, it’s breaking through the clutter and finding a way to get awareness and attention to your product or brand or retailer. All parts of the business have some area that is challenging, but that’s also where the great opportunities lie.
What led you to your current role with BeautyKind?
After three years at BeachMint overseeing the three fashion brands, I really wanted to get back to beauty. A mutual friend introduced me to Hil Davis, the founder of J. Hilburn, a successful men’s custom clothing company. He was interested in starting something new and saw opportunity in the beauty space. After multiple conversations, we decided to team up along with Adil Wali, our CTO, to create BeautyKind.
What is the best part about working for BeautyKind?
Because the foundation of our business is to give 5% of the product purchase price back to the cause of the customer’s choice, I love seeing the impact of what we’re building with the BeautyKind community — our customers and the causes.
BeautyKind is much more than a place to buy beauty products, it is a way to incorporate giving into something we already do. It’s a rewarding experience.
What is your advice to other women looking to merge interests in beauty with a greater desire to make a difference in their work?
There are many wonderful beauty companies today that incorporate social responsibility into their core philosophies, so the opportunities are better than ever to work for a company that makes a difference. If it’s important to you, make that a top criteria when looking for a new job. And, if you don’t see it where you are employed, take it upon yourself to look for ways to bring initiatives to your existing company. The great news is that more and more companies are moving in this direction!
There you have it! These ladies are proof that you can make a solid living blending “passion” with “purpose,” and will watch the world change as you do it!
Ryan is the Co-Founder of SOLO, a website focused on personal development and entrepreneurship. She also manages new business development for Urban Palate: a high-end catering company based in downtown Los Angeles.