Do not compromise: Stay true to your values and build your company around them. It will forge the company culture you believe in.
Be transparent and candid: Share openly with your teams, partners and everyone you interact with to create loyalty and alignment.
Always be in tune with your consumer: Find all possible creative ways to better understand your customer base. Keep a finger on the pulse and learn how they evolve in real time.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Yannis Rodocanachi, currently the CEO of BH Cosmetics. Rodocanachi began his career in music and advertising which piqued his desire to work in an ecosystem that fostered creativity and positive action in the world. This led to Rodocanachi’s first move to beauty within L’Oréal’s international marketing division, where he stayed in various executive roles for over 18 years. During his time at L’Oréal, Rodocanachi led global business strategy for major brands such as Garnier Fructis and NYX Cosmetics.
Rodocanachi has lived on three continents and has traveled the world extensively with his family for both personal and professional reasons, which has profoundly shaped his perspective. Living an international life and staying faithful to his values of sustainability and social responsibility are what he considers his two biggest accomplishments.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always been blessed to live in a multicultural environment as I am French with Greek origins. My parents, from different cultures, immersed us in art and music growing up. Upon graduating from business and music schools, I had the chance to participate in the soundtrack creation for an award-winning movie at the Cannes Film Festival. Very soon I realized that I wanted to work in an ecosystem where I could express creativity and positively impact people’s lives.
This is how I started in the cosmetic industry at L’Oréal almost 20 years ago, creating products for people to look and feel their best. This journey led me around the world from Paris, where our son was born, to Seoul, South Korea, where our first daughter was born. My family then moved to Indonesia and Singapore, where our second daughter was born. After Europe and Asia, we made Los Angeles our new home at the end of 2016. At that time I was in charge of the global business development at NYX, a makeup brand freshly acquired by the company I used to work for.
Los Angeles is a unique city for us as it houses everything we love: multiculturalism, profusion of businesses with a purpose, and outstanding outdoor activities — it did not take long to decide that this is where we wanted to stay as a family. Luckily, I embarked on a new project rooted in Culver City working for an investment firm that wanted to positively impact the cosmetic market through the BH Cosmetics brand. At that time I also had the chance to become a board member of a foundation called Tierra’s Angels, that helps to provide educational opportunities to children around the world — a cause I am very passionate about.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
A few weeks after having the privilege to be chosen as CEO of BH Cosmetics, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Like nearly every other company, we had to deeply transform our processes, ways of working, and business model. With a totally new team and no real systems in place, we had to completely reinvent who we were in a short amount of time. Unfortunately this example is not a unique one, and I sincerely hope that other companies will continue to thrive and have successful futures.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I changed my career path to have a positive impact. Even though we are not the biggest company, it is our mission to affect change. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world, but let me be clear, we are unwavering in who we are. At BH Cosmetics we are building a company in which we believe in a speak-up culture. We believe in social justice and equality, we believe in diversity, we believe in sustainability and producing products that are both beautiful and gentle for the planet. Even through the most difficult times, fighting for those values is what drives me forward each day.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
A year after this new journey, we are in a fantastic place. We pivoted our company and built a new platform. 2020 has been an accelerator and an amplificator that forced us to invent a new way of doing business in the cosmetic industry. 2021 will harvest the fruit of everything we created during a year with heavy headwinds. The resilience was nourished by the values we cherish and they are rising in the face of important challenges.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Some of the funniest mistakes I made in my early career days were when I had just arrived in countries where I did not speak the language and did not know the culture and beliefs. I found myself in situations where I had no idea how I was supposed to behave, what to say or not say — completely lost in translation. However, I was so motivated and so willing to participate that I made everyone laugh. It made me laugh too (nervously I have to admit) at that time and it still makes me smile now. Stating the obvious here but I learned about patience through these experiences — the need to listen, learn and then share.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
At BH Cosmetics we are genuine, raw, and stand fiercely for the core values of diversity & inclusion, female empowerment, sustainability, and civic engagement in everything we do. From our company culture and community conversations to our charity partners and even our product packaging and corporate facilities, we champion these causes by making an impact.
We do more than just sell makeup. We start and participate in important dialogues, even when they’re not easy to have. We share our platform to amplify the messaging of unapologetic faces with our Unfiltered Talks series. We ensure that every product we put out there has a purpose and represents the real you. We proudly express our opinions on social media about the topics you feel strongly about. And we encourage you to do the same: use your voice and make it loud.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Surround yourself with people that are passionate about beauty because they have the same goal: to make people feel more beautiful and confident in their own skin. Bringing together people with the same passion can take on many forms from mentoring to building an advisory board — it’s vital to never lose connection with your community.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Successes are team successes — it is never a one-man show. Throughout my career journey I have always been supported by a fantastic team. Today I am surrounded by extremely talented people who share the same values and we are building our company together around the same pillars and the same willingness to impact positively.
My family has been an essential support for this amazing journey as well. We would have never landed in such a great place without my wife’s assistance and help.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Our business performances have allowed us to support key associations that stand behind our values. In 2020, we supported:
– Animal rights and cruelty-free beauty with PETA (we won a PETA award in December!)
– COVID-19 frontline responders through Beauty United
– BLM movement with Color of Change
– LGBTQ+ rights with The Trevor Project
– Civic engagement & youth voter participation with Rock the Vote
– Small business beauty creators with makeup artist collaborations, selling their products on our website
– Voices of minority communities with BH Presents Unfiltered Talks series, whereby we turn over our Instagram platform (3.6M followers) to change-makers to help our audiences listen and learn to create a more unified & tolerant social community
– Eco conservation with World Wildlife Fund
In 2021 we want to do more!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Do not compromise: Stay true to your values and build your company around them. It will forge the company culture you believe in.
- Be transparent and candid: Share openly with your teams, partners and everyone you interact with to create loyalty and alignment.
- Take care of yourself: It is crucial to keep a permanent eye on how you feel both personally and professionally so you can show up feeling energized each day.
- Maintain a high level of curiosity: Make sure you are always learning and adapting your vision.
- Always be in tune with your consumer: Find all possible creative ways to better understand your customer base. Keep a finger on the pulse and learn how they evolve in real time.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I love this question! The movement that we started in our community and one that seems to bring the most amount of good is the transformation to a healthier, more sustainable way of living. A little more than 3 years ago we decided to become a no waste family and my wife became a nutrition coach. Our new way of consuming and eating is bringing us so much energy, healthiness and consciousness about our environment. I would love to amplify that movement to the most amount of people possible by making them feel good about what they consume so we can all take care of our planet.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!