Vaccines Are Rolling Out — At Amyris, we believe in science and are so proud of the hard work this country’s scientists have done to bring vaccines to the public. Additionally, Amyris has been directly part of the pandemic solution. We entered into a collaboration agreement and exclusive license with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) to advance a novel RNA vaccine platform, which includes the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. In February, we were pleased to announce positive pre-clinical results.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daya Fields.
Daya Fields is the current President of Pipette and Purecane at Amyris Corporation. She has been a leader in the beauty and personal care space for almost 15 years. She previously served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Product Development at Alaffia, a mission-based, all natural, personal care brand in the categories of Baby, Body, Health & Wellness. Prior to this role, she spent a decade as a marketing leader in New York City. Working in New York, Daya spent a majority of her time at the Estee Lauder Companies (ELC). She has been recognized by prestigious organizations including Conscious Company Magazine’s list of World Changing Women and by INNOCOS’ Global Cosmetics Summit on their Forces of Change list. She currently serves on the Advisory Boards of Cosmetic Executive Women’s West Coast Committee, INNOCOS Global Cosmetics, Netrush, Saint Martin University’s School of Business and Homes First Non-Profit Organization.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Yes, I’d love to. I found this career path while I pursued my MBA at MIT during my first semester. At first, I explored the potential of a career in consulting. Although there were some aspects about consulting that were of interest when I was introduced to my first global cosmetics conglomerate at an international career fair in London — something just clicked. The European recruiter stayed in touch with me after the career fair concluded and in just a few short weeks I was set up with interviews out of the New York office. All went well and I scored my first corporate beauty gig as an MBA level summer intern. In general, since 2006, I never looked back. Beauty and personal care became not only a personal passion but a viable long-term profession. I had a successful internship that summer and was also introduced to the corporate recruiting office at the Estee Lauder Companies. For my full-time career choice after MIT I ultimately chose Lauder because of the professional development rotational program, longer employee tenure as compared to the rest of the industry and the respect the brands and company commanded in the specialty and department store space. And as much as I used to be a prestige & luxury marketing maven my focus and expertise has evolved throughout the years to main street beauty and personal care. My sales channel focus is now in Food, Drug, Mass, Grocer & Amazon — almost a complete 180 from where I started. The ability to adapt in an ever-changing environment has been my most valued skill.
After a decade in NYC I was recruited to the west coast by Alaffia. The brand was heavily concentrated in Whole Foods brick & mortar stores and the natural & grocer channels. I served as their SVP of Marketing and Product Development and launched the brand in both Walmart and Target nationwide. It was the brand’s wins, under my co-leadership in the mass channel, particularly within the baby & body categories that made me an attractive candidate to Amyris. When they reached out to start a conversation and ultimately explore good cultural fit — I was very intrigued. It soon developed into an opportunity to lead both Pipette and Purecane brands based on my knowledge of the CPG industry and expertise in driving growth on Amazon. I was excited to join a team who is so passionate about science, consumer transparency and is building an army of clean brands in every category. Amyris’ ethos is to change beauty and personal care into “clean is the new normal”. As an advocate for clean products and having years of experience in the natural channel, I was confident I could bring a fresh perspective to both brands and understood our core consumer’s concerns on ingredients and formulas as they discern food and skincare choices for their families.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
One of the first initiatives I tackled upon joining Amyris was entering Pipette into the Tmall Global Pitch Fest less than 2 months after my start date. We submitted our application and out of 100 brands, 9 were chosen. Pipette was honored to be among the winners selected by Alibaba’s 3rd party judging committee. We were up and running on Tmall Global the week of October 19th — weeks ahead of our expected launch date of November 11th — Alibaba’s Singles’ Day. This was such a fantastic project to lead because I was able to help Pipette immediately expand into its first international market, acquire new consumers, as well as garner over a dozen press hits in Tier 1 publications. This all resulted in hundreds of millions of impressions for the brand. To make this type of an impact so quickly was truly rewarding.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have so many exciting things happening at both Pipette and Purecane. Pipette continues to launch new products — which are the cleanest, healthiest and safest for babies, moms and families. This year, we’ve launched our new Balm Stick and another differentiated OTC product — Diaper Rash Cream. As consistent with our other portfolio of SKUs, they too arehypoallergenic, free of synthetic fragrances, pediatrician approved and dermatology tested. As a brand, we ban over 2000+ harmful ingredients from our labs and from our final formulas. What’s really exciting, but still confidential, is that we will be launching new products that are broadening our family care category in the upcoming months. I will definitely keep you posted — let’s stay in touch.
Purecane recently expanded its product line with two new zero-calorie sugar alternatives, Brown Sweetener and Confectioners Sweetener. These are two new ways to savor that allows consumers to enjoy the taste without the health risks associated with sugar or other sweeteners. In the upcoming months, Purecane too will be expanding into a new category; however, right now I’m not able to disclose the details on that exciting launch. As a brand, we are truly revolutionary. As a matter of fact, in early March of this year our brand was selected as a “Most Innovative Company” by Fast Company Magazine — coming in #9 on their food industry list of honorees. We make deliciously tasting sugar substitutes with no bitter after taste and our products are made with a proprietary process. We create Purecane products with a sustainable process derived from sugarcane. We’re zero net carbs, low glycemic — keto, diabetes & vegan friendly — and are gluten free.
This is how both brands are helping people. We are a positive and sustainable introduction into their lifestyle. We provide families with clean, safe and efficacious products that everyone can use from babies on up. So far, the feedback has been super encouraging. We’re measuring this by our consumer’s engagement & direct feedback with the brand and our sheer growth in units sold over the last year.
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 about that.
If I named just one person I would be missing someone substantial…and I would hate to do that. What I will say is that I believe where there is sustained success it usually takes a village of support along the way, collectively throughout one’s journey, throughout one’s life. My mom and dad have always been committed to my success and taught me that no matter where I find myself I always have options. My best friend from high school, Amy, has been a mainstay in my life for decades, she has seen me evolve from a “I think I can” kind of a girl to a “Mission accomplished. Thank you — next!” type of a woman — through the trials and triumphs — she’s been there. There is also much appreciation for my sorority sisters from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. — particularly the girls I joined the organization with. Can’t forget, Andrew, my best friend from MIT Sloan and the most impactful bosses I’ve had throughout my career which have all empowered and supported me. These managers were at PBS, ELC, Alaffia and now here at Amyris. WOW — it feels good to acknowledge all of these people in such a public way. I am forever in gratitude.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
As a woman in business the biggest work-related challenges I am facing is wearing 2 around-the-clock hats. 1) Is being a patient teacher of 3 school aged children 8 and under. 2) Is being an understanding, stay-in-the-present mom.
As a person in business (regardless of gender) — pre-pandemic or post — running 2 highly innovative brands that have a sharp growth trajectory and nurturing 2 sets of teams — are all challenges any person would need to balance.
As an executive, staying on the pulse of changing consumer buying behaviors, new product and ingredient interests from consumers that are focused on wellness and clean formulas, as well as, monitoring growing interest in the personal care category has been a constant challenge. Staying engaged in all these nuances — which affect every sales channel we distribute in — all while working safely from home during the pandemic was one of the greatest challenges for myself and my teams.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
For me, what I have done to address these challenges is breathe, prioritize, sit quietly and think about the present and the future. Let go of the “should have” and “could have”. Say no to what’s not absolutely essential. And lastly, think about the well-being of my children and family. Once I do these things — what I need to do in that moment becomes unquestionably clear.
For others, I recommend all the above and when you’re overwhelmed voice your concerns with your manager and your family. Give them the opportunity to help and support you. Also, for the time being, relinquish the pressure to be superwoman in all areas of your life. With certain aspects that don’t need your primary focus 🡪 delegate, be okay with “good enough for now” and check in with yourself on your priorities daily. If you are a person who always has to excel in everything, temporary status quo can be your new best friend. Since the access, activities and support is not the same for families and singles through this tumultuous period — focus on keeping the peace, operating in harmony, mitigating change and maintaining stability & consistency in your life.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
Since we’re all so busy working remotely and melding both our personal and professional lives together — some of us doubling as homeschool teachers, still actually parenting, still working full time and still mentoring others — I recommend carving out time during the day, untouchable time blocks, before the regular workday begins and after it ends. It’s also helpful to let your supervisor and teammates know these are blocked out times. Now have I dealt with work related crisis’s during these untouchable sacred times. Yes, of course, but it is the exception now versus the rule. As an executive, it is easy to get pulled into things during that “before or after standard work hours” timeframe. There is always a crisis and always something that needs to be resolved. However, practicing the discipline & efficiency it takes to create boundaries and space — consistently — is the real challenge. Creating this space and sticking to it is my answer to engaging in all of the things that need personal accountability and care. I encourage this of my teams as well.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
We have come a long way in the last year, but through all the challenges we’ve faced, I believe there is “light at the end of the tunnel” and I see brighter days ahead…now. There are ample reasons to remain hopeful and optimistic about the future.
- Vaccines Are Rolling Out — At Amyris, we believe in science and are so proud of the hard work this country’s scientists have done to bring vaccines to the public. Additionally, Amyris has been directly part of the pandemic solution. We entered into a collaboration agreement and exclusive license with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) to advance a novel RNA vaccine platform, which includes the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. In February, we were pleased to announce positive pre-clinical results.
- The Future Looks Positive for Female Leaders — At Pipette and Purecane, our teams are 99.9% female, made up of mothers, daughters, sisters and aunties who have a major impact on our business and their local communities. With the multiple roles we play, and the self-imposed need to be successful in all things — the road ahead can feel like a constant challenge. Sometimes it feels even impossible. I just focus on how far we’ve come. Women have lead so much change over the last year with our actions, commitment & voices and we now have our first female Vice President in the White House. Anything is indeed possible.
- Kids Are Returning to School — As a mother of three young girls, I too experienced not only the adjustment of working from home daily but managing homeschooling. While virtual learning is very challenging, knowing that there is the option for kids to return to classrooms and be with their teachers and peers brings a sense of normalcy to parents and children alike.
- Restrictions Are Being Lifted — It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in quarantine for over a year and we’ve had to adapt to this new normal in the blink of an eye. Seeing restrictions being lifted nationwide brings a sense of hope. The opportunity to catch up for a drink, grab a bite to eat, to go on vacation, or have children’s playdates can finally start to resume. Lastly, just the simplicity of seeing people’s faces again, their smiles — without masks eventually — this is all something to look forward to and be hopeful for.
- Your Career Options Just Expanded — Now companies are no longer looking for talent just 20 miles from their HQ…they are looking regionally, nationally and globally for the best talent without the pressure of having to relocate. This is a significantly positive evolution that the pandemic has created. I hope for most companies and for the employees it’s truly working for — that it becomes a permanent mainstay. Hybrid & remote has shown to work and can work for the foreseeable future.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The future depends on what you do today” — Ghandi. It’s relevant because it’s true in almost all cases. The seeds I planted 15 years ago, 5 years ago, 11 months ago have blossomed into what exists today. Many of the experiences positive, many successes that I’m proud of, and many people I have helped, supported, and mentored along the way. However, those handful of failures, those times where I could have used more light in my daily life & a broader perspective…I’ve learned a heck of a lot from these experiences too — enough to not repeat the same missteps or have the same misunderstandings.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can learn more about Pipette at pipettebaby.com and Purecane at Purecane.com. Check us out on social:
For Pipette 🡪 on Instagram @pipettebaby and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pipettebaby/
For Purecane → on Instagram @purecane and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/purecanesweetener/
To follow more of my professional insights and news about both brands 🡪 on Instagram @dayaatwork1 and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dayafields/
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!