You might call yourself a beauty fanatic, but what kind of beauty aficionado are you? Are you subscribed to numerous beauty blogger channels on YouTube? Do you have more limited-edition makeup releases than you can count from your favorite brands? Are you the unofficial “beauty expert” in your circle of friends. Heck—is your knowledge of skincare ingredients so deep that you’re essentially a part-time chemist?
If any of the above rings true, then discussing the latest beauty trends isn’t just fun—it’s life-enriching. But here’s the thing: Obsessing over the latest and greatest in the industry is one thing; working in it is another altogether. So, how do you go about nabbing a job on the other side of the mirror? What kind of tenacity, reverence, and skillset will take you behind the scenes of a multi-billion dollar industry?
To find out, we asked some beauty insiders and entrepreneurs for the beauty industry career advice they wish someone had shared with them when they were just starting out. Here’s hoping their bits of wisdom make it that much easier for you to break into the field of your dreams—you beauty fanatic, you!
10 Bits of Beauty Industry Career Advice
Remember, humility is a virtue
“No matter what your background, everyone starts from the bottom! In this industry, you have to pay your dues. That means starting out with a humble mindset and being willing to do the work to get experience.”
—Tierra Wilson, co-founder, Beauty & Brains
Don’t rush your growth
“During my first year in business, a mentor told me, ‘When growing your business, slow and steady wins the race.’ At that time, I remember thinking, ‘I want to grow now and I want to grow fast.’ I had so much passion and determination to grow my brand, but I took my mentor’s advice and decided to move slowly.
Now, five years later, I am so happy I took my time. I’ve been able to process the growth in real-time and make introspective decisions based on that growth. I’m so grateful for the gift of slow!”
—Annie Tevelin, founder, SkinOwl
Be a lifelong student
“Invest in continuing education. It’s so easy to become stale when you are working in the same setting and seeing the same clients. Breaking out of your routine and comfort zone is one of the greatest gifts you can give your creative mind. Your career will thank you.”
—Kristina Maccaro, owner, Love Lane Salon
Listen, listen, listen
“The most valuable lesson I learned is to take things personally. I know that may sound odd. But, when it comes to building products, it’s so important to listen, take customer feedback into account, and make changes. Taking your customers’ honest feedback to heart will only improve their experience and grow your business.”
—Kelly Hsiao, founder, Block Island Organics
Don’t be afraid to go against the status quo
“A lot of the advice I received when I started out was from a male colleague and it was wrong! It was centered on the way ‘things are done’ and how they’ve always been done that way. How can you be a disruptor if you do things the way everyone else does things? The advice I was given involved a lot of ‘no’ and ‘you can’t do that.’
It took a lot of frustration to realize that you can reject the advice of veterans and recognize that no industry is stagnant. The beauty industry is constantly changing—embrace that!”
—Ali Murphy, CEO + founder, William Roam
“The best advice was to stay focused on what you want to do. Have a strong vision and stick with it. People will make recommendations along the way but always go with your gut and don’t make any compromises.”
—Kirsten Kjaer Weis, founder, Kjaer Weis
“I spent so many years in the planning phase that could have been spent actually building and growing my brand in real time. Because it was such a big goal for me to have my own beauty brand, I used planning as a way to mask the fear of just getting in the game. When I randomly met one of my mentors three years ago, he gave me the challenge to launch within a month. While I didn’t launch in a month, he helped start the momentum needed to launch and here we are.”
—Nicole Van Lun, founder, Bubbles and Butter
If it’s not working, move on
“A female VC reminded me that I’ll constantly ‘edit’ my team and to not be afraid to do so. Relationships form, strong bonds and friendships are born, but I have to stay focused on the goal. Sometimes people or agencies may be able to only assist you to a certain part of the journey. It’s up to you to recognize if and when it is time for a refresh. It is the most difficult call to make, but sadly you’ll hurt everyone, employees and customers alike, if you don’t strengthen this muscle.”
—Cashmere Nicole, founder, Beauty Bakerie Cosmetics
Believe in your work
“When I was interviewing for my job at Bare Escentuals, all of the questions were about my personal experience with the brand and products. She wanted to know what shade of eyeshadow I was wearing, which bareMinerals boutiques I had visited, and how I liked the loose mineral foundation. At the time, I was puzzled: I didn’t understand why she didn’t care about my work experience, or my education, or even my interest in the role.
After I was hired, she told me that other people were confident that I could do the job—it was her responsibility to make sure I had the passion for the product and the commitment to the customer that she built the business on. From that very early moment, I learned how important it is to hire people who have an authentic belief in your mission. There will be lots of people who can do the job—it’s the people who believe what you believe, and are a fit with your culture, who will make all the difference as you’re building a team.”
—Jennifer Goldfarb, co-founder and executive chairwoman, ipsy
Build bridges, and don’t burn them
“Don’t forget the people you meet early in your career. You never realize it at the time, but some of those people end up being instrumental in your growth. You also never know where they will end up later on! During one of my internships about eight years ago, I ended up connecting with an editor at Lucky Magazine (RIP) during a press preview event. She got me an internship at Condé Nast and now many moons later, she’s still someone I pitch regularly for my brands and take through press events.”
—Shruti Shah, account supervisor, Lippe Taylor