Monday, April 17, 2017
Interview with Dream-Manifesting Green Indie Beauty Queen: Jillian Wright
With more than 12,000 facials (and still counting!) under her belt, there is no doubt that Jillian Wright knows virtually all skin types. A quick glance is enough for this master skin expert to tell if her clients don't use sunscreen, haven't stopped smoking like they said, or are indulging in one hamburger too many. It's a skill she perfected (over 15 years!) at her eponymous spa in Manhattan where she helped celebrities and selective New Yorkers get their skin in their best shape ever.
Drawing from the know-how she gained as one of NYC's most sought-after facialists, the entrepreneurially-minded Wright decided to start her own skincare line in an effort to solve the skincare woes her clients were experiencing. Jillian Wright Skincare was born and Wright designed the collection around antioxidants, fruit enzymes and stem cells to naturally banish acne and keep premature aging at bay.
As the creator of her own skincare line, Wright soon discovered that indie beauty brands lacked a place where they could showcase their products to buyers and other key beauty influencers so that they could take their business to the next level. Firmly believing that there is a solution for everything, Jillian quickly set out to fix the problem herself.
In 2015, she founded Indie Beauty Expo (IBE), a twice annual event in New York and Los Angeles that aims to level the playing field for small beauty businesses and give them a chance to be discovered in the overcrowded beauty space.
Hynt has exhibited at both the New York and Los Angeles events and loved them so we were thrilled when this (gorgeous) go-getter entrepreneur agreed to do an interview with us. During our chat, she shared what challenges she has encountered in building her green beauty empire and how she overcame them, what success means to her and what her secret beauty weapon is! Read on:
What was that decisive moment that led you to decide to focus on clean, green, ethical beauty?
It was never an AHA moment. It was a way of life from an early age. When I was younger, I instinctively went for more natural choices in beauty. I didn’t like the feel of “chemicals” on my face. I immediately thought that I would breakout or become red - it wasn’t worth the risk. I don’t have sensitive skin, but I would experience a physical reaction to products that had intense smells. Other products would make me breakout or made my skin feel tight, inflamed and unhealthy. Knowing that my skin absorbs whatever I put on it, I've always questioned the purity of products.
As a celebrity aesthetician, spa and product business owner, and an advocate and “spokesperson" of the indie beauty market, what were some challenges you had to face to balance the three?
I am very disciplined. I work 7 days a week, but I enjoy it because I know I’m doing something worthwhile. When I started my skincare line 10 years after entering the aesthetic field, my spa was already established and I had a full book of clients. This made it easier to develop my collection. My clients were my focus group and I knew exactly what they needed and demanded and what I wanted in the line to garner those results.
I’m not easily swayed by trends. I’m actually press discerning when it comes to products and their claims. This is why my line isn’t the “next best thing”, but it is a line- "Smart Skin Solutions" - that you can trust and use forever.
When I originally launched, I mostly sold it at my spa. I wanted to bring it to market but I simply didn't have the time for it. Performing facials took up a lot of time and energy, so I closed my spa February 29th 2016, and 8 months later, I stopped seeing clients. After 17 years in the treatment room, starting the Indie Beauty Expo (IBE) and redesigning my brand, it was time to let go of my security blanket and scale. There are always sacrifices, but ultimately they are moments of growth. These types of decisions should be embraced so you have no regrets. Finishing chapters and moving on, it's challenging but extremely healthy.
How did you overcome these challenges?
By making sound, thoughtful decisions and taking the time to make sure it was the right direction to move through.
Do you have an ultimate “mission” or “philosophy” that fuels everything that you do?
My drive is fueled by the desire to create something that benefits people on many different levels. Since I was young, I loved bringing good people together. I believe in experiences that are positive and make people happy. There is so much in life that brings us down. I always wanted to be the purveyor of a good time whether it was in the treatment room through a facial, or providing great skincare for home use or on a grander scale, creating something as massive as IBE so entrepreneurs could do serious business with buyers, press and consumers.
Before IBE, smaller brands were the wallflowers, the underdogs. We weren’t taken seriously and we were overlooked. Now we have a platform that takes small businesses seriously. There is a lot of power when something is motivated and fueled by a personal experience.
What are some things that exhibitors and attendees have said to you that has really made all the hard work worth it?
We survey the brands and the attendees after every show. We want to grow so we listen with big ears. We take praise and constructive criticism very seriously. We are going to Dallas because that is where the brands wanted us to go. We made the "Connect Indie" event a full day separate from the actual expo date because the brands wanted more thought-leadership and education. We also moved the presentation space on the floor plan because we received feedback that it wasn’t in the right place and they were right!
You see, it is a collaboration. We are building a community that connects and takes everyone who wants to be involved. But the best feedback is when brands get picked up by their “dream” retailer or they have met someone meaningful that will help them grow their business. IBE isn’t an expo business, we are a platform and this means that we will continue to listen and tweak to provide the tools that the brands need along with catering to the press and retailers.
What's your personal secret beauty weapon?
Sunscreen, water consumption, taking vitamins, very little to no gluten, exercise, travel, my happy marriage and family, moderation of all things pleasurable like salt, sugar, caffeine and alcohol, managing stress, not sweating the small stuff, following a skincare regimen day and night, and ultimately staying happy by balancing discipline and indulgence.
What is your vision of success?
When I was 16, I wanted to open a shoe boutique and transform it into an art gallery at night in Soho. It was my mind combining two things that I love, shoes and art. It showed my entrepreneurial spirit at a very young age. I went to the University of Arizona for Fine Art. I never went to a job fair, nor have I ever worked corporate. It wasn’t in my DNA. As my business partner Nader says, “Jillian, you are not employable.” FYI: This was his way of complimenting me.
Luckily, this has changed though! I was a free spirit, an artist, a traveler. But, reality speaking, I had to figure out a way to support myself. I had no help from home so I was on my own. I despised authority and anyone telling me what to do. This is a problem if you are looking for a career. I am very rebellious, but not destructive. There lies the answer. The answer lies within the negative space, the cracks and crevices of life. More often than not, you have to dig deep and think outside the norm.
For me, I wasn’t thinking about what I wanted to do, but more so, on how I wanted to live. I wanted to be around women, I wanted to raise a family, I wanted to be in charge of my own schedule and do something meaningful. I chose aesthetics because it fit the type of life I wanted to live.
When I graduated aesthetic school, I had the opportunity to work for a multi million dollar spa, but I didn’t. I decided to open up my own business right from the start. I knew it would take me longer to establish, but I didn’t care. I had no fear. I just built and built and built until I had a steady clientele.
So this is where the discipline comes in. I knew the type of life I wanted to live. I knew how I wanted to spend my time and I didn’t fear the hard work it would take to establish myself. I also believe that if you believe in what you want, you can manifest it and it will happen. You have to say it out loud, write it down, share it with your best buddy. When you put something in the universe, it usually happens. When you set goals for yourself and accomplish them through hard work, dedication, professionalism, then you will achieve something meaningful, whether large or small. This is what success is.
A lifestyle change or habit that has most affected your everyday well-being?
We eat at home. We rarely eat out which means we control the ingredients and portions. Eating as a family is also helpful in raising kids. We have 4 kids between me and my partner (8, 13, 14, 18) and it provides them a safe, judgement-free place to share ideas and experiences that have happened to them. Providing stability for my family makes me happy.
What do you most admire in a woman and why?
I admire strength, intelligence, solid work ethic, no fear attitude, kindness, compassion, security, no bull-&*#$ attitude, creativity, independence, and a sense of humor. I sound like I’m on Match.com! Why? Because a person who possesses these traits is really fun to talk to and be around.
Books that influenced your life?
I love the book “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
What's your motto?
There is a solution for everything.
If you could give one piece of advice to your 25 year old self, what would it be?
Save more money and don’t waste it on trivial stuff.
What makes you truly happy?
When I make a difference in people’s lives ...and pedicures.