3 Life Lessons From L'Oreal's Only Female CEO


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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Find out what Jamie Kern Lima, who sold her startup to L’Oreal for $1.2 billion, can teach you about growing your small business.

Article 3 Minutes
3 Life Lessons From L'Oreal's Only Female CEO

Back in 2016, beauty product giant L‘Oreal paid $1.2 billion for Innovative Technology (IT) Cosmetics. This was the largest purchase the corporation had made in eight years, which is particularly astonishing considering IT Cosmetics is the brainchild of a single person: Jamie Kern Lima. The former news anchor grew her business for three years before selling it and becoming L’Oreal’s only female CEO.

After such a meteoric success story, Kern Lima recently announced she’s stepping down from her role running the IT Cosmetics brand. To reflect on her journey, here are three life lessons she can teach startups and small business owners to help you grow your company. Who knows; maybe you’ll also get bought by a major corporation.


1. Build a following by solving a problem

Kern Lima was born with Rosacea, a genetic condition that causes red, blotchy skin. IT Cosmetics was born from her desire to do something about this, and she combined skin care with makeup to create ‘corrective products’ that work on her skin. This is one of the keys to her success.

Talking to Forbes, she mentioned: “When women find something that works, they tell somebody.” This is key to how the company was able to grow so fast; it cultivated an organic following by creating products that solved a clear problem for many customers. The best marketing you can get is from happy customers who are grateful you’ve been able to help.

2. Understand what makes you unique

The unique selling point (USP) for IT Cosmetics isn’t the fact that it can be used by people with skin conditions. That’s its purpose, but not how Kern Lima marketed it. Instead, she told Entrepreneur.com: “We create products with a luxury formula at a prestige price point, which is inclusive luxury.”

That statement was one of the reasons L’Oreal decided to buy IT Cosmetics. Once you’ve found a problem to solve, you need to think about what makes your solution special; in other words, what’s its USP? Other brands might be able to offer something similar to Kern Lima’s corrective products, but only she could offer inclusive luxury.

3. Keep time for yourself

“I spent 10 years working 100-plus-hour weeks starting IT Cosmetics in my living room,” Kern Lima told Fast Company, “and for so long was feeling so burned out.” All that work was worth it in the end, but it’s also a good way to make you unhappy and unhealthy. She recommends a few things to help budding entrepreneurs avoid this.

One of those things is simply to move. “The first several years as an entrepreneur, I would work a 20-hour day and feel accomplished but then realize I didn’t physically move my body all day,” she said. But alongside that it’s important to get enough sleep - so no screens for an hour before bed - and make sure you’re taking time to do what you love.

For more expert tips on how to strike the right balance between work and home life, read the full article here.

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