Allison Moss of Type:A Brands: “Conserve cash ”

Conserve cash — as one of my investors shared early on, as a CEO my job was to manage the strategy, the team and always make sure we have cash in the bank. When times are uncertain, a small or emerging business likely has less cash reserve and also is more susceptible to being hit hard by […]

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Conserve cash — as one of my investors shared early on, as a CEO my job was to manage the strategy, the team and always make sure we have cash in the bank. When times are uncertain, a small or emerging business likely has less cash reserve and also is more susceptible to being hit hard by small changes. If a key retailer’s foot traffic drops by 50%, that future cash flow you had been counting on is suddenly now also likely cut in half. Small businesses especially need extra runway as truly anything can change on a dime.


As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Allison Moss.

Allison Moss has 22 years of prior marketing and management experience working with some of the biggest beauty companies in the business. But her passion for wanting to bring cleaner, safer beauty & personal care products to market brought her to where she is today, Founder & CEO of Type:A Brands.

Since launching Type:A Brands three years ago, Allison has created award-winning, non-toxic, high-performance body care items. Allison has led the company to develop an impactful foundation and immense growth. This includes the hero product, a game-changing aluminum-free deodorant, being awarded a patent for it’s exclusive sweat-activated technology that delivers best-in-class odor and wetness protection. Type:A Brands is a certified B Corporation, carbon neutral, cruelty free, woman-owned and all products are made in the USA.The brand’s commitment to making a difference through the business has recently garnered actress, activist and clean beauty enthusiast Sophia Bush as an investor.

Type:A Brands has gained a well-respected reputation in the industry winning multiple beauty awards from top publications such as Health, SELF and Women’s Health and has developed incredible retailer reach, with Type:A products being sold at CredoBeauty, Whole Foods (California), HEB, Bed Bath & Beyond, Thrive Market, Target.com and many more.

With all this, Allison has stayed true to her word and mission and continues to strive to be better, do better and offer others better in the beauty industry.


Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I grew up outside of Los Angeles, and moved to New York City after college (Boston University, go Terriers!) to start a career in Marketing. I’ve spent 20 years in the beauty industry, focused on brand and product marketing. At the start, I worked with mainstream brands like Estee Lauder, MAC Cosmetics, Lancôme and L’Oreal Paris, and more recently I’ve shifted to work with smaller brands that have a clean or natural focus, including Jurlique and Beautycounter.

On my own personal journey into using safer products, I naturally made clean-beauty swaps in my daily routine. When I decided to switch to a natural deodorant, I tried dozens of them, but each and every one was a disappointment. With my background bringing amazing products to the market across the beauty industry, I saw that a better deodorant was absolutely possible. So I engaged a freelance chemist, took a leap of faith, and never looked back.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I’ve made was thankfully completely innocent. I was moving way too fast, trying to do 500 things at one time — typical founder life — and I sent an email intended for my husband to someone else involved with the business. There was nothing embarrassing in the email, thank goodness! But the simple act of moving too fast and sending the wrong message to the wrong person was embarrassing. The lesson of taking an extra beat before hitting send on EVERY email has stuck with me ever since. It’s a good practice to have in place anyway.

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?

My husband. We met in business school and he’s an entrepreneur at heart, having started several side businesses over the years. So when I first had this crazy idea, we sat down and geeked-out on what starting a full-fledged personal care brand could look like. One afternoon, I presented my competitive analysis to him and we had a very detailed discussion while the kids napped.

Of course its been invaluable having someone I trust, who also has a different approach than I do, to strategically brainstorm with and work through all sorts of business questions and challenges along the way. But even more important, once we decided I would start this business, he started to volunteer to take on more responsibility at home. Like making school lunches and grocery shopping are now his tasks. His support at home, tactical support for the business, and emotional support throughout for my own mental sanity have made this all possible.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

From the very beginning, I was inspired by having a product that worked differently from what was on the market, and better for people who tried it. I was motivated that this could help more people make the switch they wanted to make and stick with it. The idea of helping people make this healthier choice in their lives is a huge part of why I left my corporate career to take on starting a business. And it’s been the best decision!

We could use this business as a force for good, and we try to do that and are always looking to improve. I wanted to get our B Corporation certification as early as we could for just this reason, to help us do a better job of making a positive impact for all stakeholders.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?

Leading a team during Q2 2020, at the start of COVID-19, is the definition of uncertain times. The biggest challenge was not knowing how long the pandemic would last and how it would impact consumer behavior short term and long term. We reacted immediately in mid-March, and further in April and May, to revise marketing plans dramatically, conserve cash, re-evaluate our runway, and revise our sales plans. It was an exhausting and emotionally difficult time for everyone. I approached this by being honest with the team, and giving everyone space to adjust and cope in their own ways. We had an advantage in that our team was partly remote pre-COVID. Even so, we doubled down on finding alternate ways to stay connected as a team, starting a cadence of 2x / week all-hands zoom meetings that we’ve continued to this day, and identifying a block of work-hours across time zones where we can all be available to connect.

Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?

I’ve had my moments where I feel overwhelmed, as anyone would. I run a growing, early-stage business and am a mom of two. For the business, there’s a never-ending amount of work and always more that we can be doing! My biggest challenge is not get bogged down by what we haven’t tackled (yet!) and stay focused on moving forward, motivate my team and continue to make progress.

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?

Finding a way to process your own reactions to the times so that you can be there for your team as humans as well as professionals. And also letting the team be there for you, and recognizing you’re all in this together. That sense of unity can be an advantage to the business.

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

I’ve found in the last 18 months that as a small team, we’ve all supported each other in so many ways. My first step was to connect individually with each person, see what they needed on a personal level and how as their employer we could support this. If a person feels supported and in a safe space, they can be more present for the job as well (or take the time they need so they can return fully present). In connecting with the team, I found my spirits lifted and really felt we strengthened our connections which inspired all of us to get creative, and be flexible, to get through the tough times.

What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?

Finding a way to process your own reactions to the times so that you can be there for your team as humans as well as professionals. And also letting the team be there for you, and recognizing you’re all in this together. That sense of unity can be an advantage to the business.

How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?

Making plans when the future is unpredictable is about conservation and flexibility. When it comes to future commitments, be selective. Take calculated risks on people and programs that are low-risk or deliver on necessary goals (e.g. — ramp up a new sales channel that makes sense for your business regardless of an unpredictable future). And make sure every program that carries uncertainty has the ability to be paused, rescheduled or cancelled without penalty or with an acceptably low penalty.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

We wouldn’t be here without having doubled down on cash-management, and making our weekly 13-week cash forecast our north star. This allows us to revisit decisions weekly to invest or cut spend across every aspect of the business, to shift with the ups and downs of the times.

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

  • Keeping plans as-is hoping things will go back to normal
  • Not giving yourself and your team time for personal and emotional well being
  • Be compassionate with yourself and your goals, as they will change

Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

Our mentality of being willing to revisit our entire strategy and putting everything on the table was important to our success in generating new business. We worked quickly to reconsider our sales and marketing plans, and stayed open to all ideas.

We also took a calculated risk and followed-through with a new hire we had identified just before the pandemic took over. The role was Head of Retail Sales, with the goal of managing our retail channel for success. We brought in an incredible candidate and now key team member, and quickly together we revised our retail expansion strategy. That was over a year ago and today the result has been opening 1400 doors with incredible regional, national and e-tail partners including Meijer, Whole Foods (California regions), Bed Bath and Beyond, and Thrive Market.

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Be compassionate — keeping the team motivated requires first ensuring everyone feeling supported and safe. With that, they can ‘show up’ (over zoom) and be present to do their roles and stay flexible as the landscape shifts and tasks/projects inevitably change.
  2. Be flexible — be willing to let go of what was planned and re-evaluate every inch of the business and team.
  3. Conserve cash — as one of my investors shared early on, as a CEO my job was to manage the strategy, the team and always make sure we have cash in the bank. When times are uncertain, a small or emerging business likely has less cash reserve and also is more susceptible to being hit hard by small changes. If a key retailer’s foot traffic drops by 50%, that future cash flow you had been counting on is suddenly now also likely cut in half. Small businesses especially need extra runway as truly anything can change on a dime.
  4. Seek out partners / advisors / friends of the brand — we spent a lot of time socializing with other brands at our stage, across categories. It was good for our combined mental health to know we were facing similar challenges. But equally if not more important, we learned from each other, shared tips, ideas, advice and resources.
  5. Take calculated risks. When COVID-19 hit, despite the immense uncertainty, what we knew that investing in sales growth was mission critical, it had to be our #1 focus. Moving forward to add a strategic retail sales lead was one of the best decisions we’ve made as a business.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Staying positive does not mean pretending to be happy even when times are tough. Rather it means knowing that even through tough times, remembering it is temporary and that better times are coming soon.

A team member shared this to me during COVID, I have revisited this countless times since Q2 2021.

How can our readers further follow your work?

@typeadeodorant on IG and FB

@allisonrmoss

https://www.linkedin.com/company/type-a-brands/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/allison-moss-23b9002/
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