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“Always get three quotes on new projects.” With Dana Ward

Always get three quotes on new projects. If the quotes are similar, then you can easily choose the best fit based on a number of other factors… and if one vendor’s pricing is an outlier, it’s an opportunity to learn WHY the pricing is so low or so high, and you might be able to […]

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Always get three quotes on new projects. If the quotes are similar, then you can easily choose the best fit based on a number of other factors… and if one vendor’s pricing is an outlier, it’s an opportunity to learn WHY the pricing is so low or so high, and you might be able to then avoid an issue that would have popped up had you not understood the entire process. Better understanding of something new can never hurt!

Asa part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dana Ward.

Dana is the Founder and Co-President of Barefoot Scientist, overseeing brand, marketing and partnerships while leading development for the company’s growing slate of premium foot care products. She hopes to inspire people to treat their feet in the same specialized way that they care for their face, hair and body. Before launching Barefoot Scientist, Dana helped invent the company’s award-winning innovation, now known as PreHeels+ blister prevention spray, and she was part of the founding team of popular digital entertainment network, Clevver Media (acquired by Hearst).

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Well, it feels like a million years ago, but during my previous career, it was a normal part of my job to produce and conduct celebrity interviews on red carpets in Hollywood. As an on-air reporter, I often wore heels to dress up for these several hour long occasions, and the fashion choice meant I had to regularly deal with painful blisters on my feet. I did my research as a product-loving journalist would do, tried everything on the market to avoid blisters and couldn’t find a solution. I made it my mission with my partner to solve the problem of blisters once and for all by developing a dream of a product that didn’t exist: a blister prevention spray that could be applied easily, dry on skin without mess, work with all skin tones and shoe styles, and also still be long lasting, hypoallergenic, vegan and cruelty-free. Cut to now, I’m the “foot care is self care” founder who hopes that everyone can incorporate a little care for their much deserving feet into their everyday beauty and wellness routine.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

It started with our invention of a new product category via our blister prevention spray (PreHeels+). There was nothing like it on the market to reference and it was extremely challenging to develop: It took a few years and several hundred formulations to perfect, and it was ultimately that product success that allowed us to see a bigger opportunity.

There was a white space — even in the very saturated market that is the beauty industry — to upgrade foot care to a normal part of everyday living with smart, clean formulations and effective products specifically created for the unique skin on the feet. Because we’re doing something innovative, there’s an ongoing challenge to educate consumers why and how… but we welcome the work and appreciate the dialogue with customers.

Barefoot Scientist is the first brand to offer comprehensive skin care for the feet — from efficacious treatment to preventative pampering — and we hope to be the company that people think of as the trusted expert in foot care.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

My mentor from day one is my dad. Lucky for me, I wasn’t even required to ask him to fill the mentor position, so I’ve had the incredible opportunity to learn from him since I was a kid! Many of the positive skills that have allowed me to start a few new companies (and most recently build Barefoot Scientist) were absorbed by witnessing how he lives life: he is a brilliant self-motivator, works both smart and hard to get the job done, and strives to excel at every project he touches… always with passion, a big heart and team mentality. He has passed on to me a drive and inner self-confidence that allows me to know that I’ll always do my best to figure out the answer to any challenge that arises. In fact, his other half, my mom has said many times that one of the best gifts a parent can give a child (among many) is confidence. I’ve realized that confidence is key in the startup world; it helps you get through those inevitable rough patches and failures along the way, by learning from them quickly and moving on. For that gift, I’m forever thankful to my parents.

Otherwise, I look to all of the smart, hard-working people in my network (digital and real life) for inspiration. There is something incredible to learn from almost every person you meet — you just have to take a moment to notice and then process it.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Always get three quotes on new projects. If the quotes are similar, then you can easily choose the best fit based on a number of other factors… and if one vendor’s pricing is an outlier, it’s an opportunity to learn WHY the pricing is so low or so high, and you might be able to then avoid an issue that would have popped up had you not understood the entire process. Better understanding of something new can never hurt!

Do your own customer service (at least for a bit). It’s the fastest way to understand your operations even more closely and how you can improve the customer experience. Many customers are happy to share what’s working and what’s not working — just listen. Doing just this has allowed us to optimize our business: from seeking out a more fitting fulfillment partner that could handle our unique needs with shipping an aerosol and being more specific on how to use a product on our packaging and website to creating new product kits based on customer use and more.

Say thank you. That’s it.

How are you going to shake things up next?

The challenge to inspire people to care for their feet in a same specialized way will continue on! So we have some cool expansions in retail coming up soon (this year, it was a personal dream come true to launch in Ulta Beauty). We are also looking into markets outside of health, beauty and wellness. And I’m pretty stoked about a few innovative products in development that we hope will result in more happier, healthier feet out there.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

The Making Sense podcast with Sam Harris is a must listen. He eloquently delivers facts and leads informed discussion with experts on a wide-range of topics from current events, politics, science, culture and more. It’s fascinating and always thought-provoking, and it is this type of open dialogue that is oh-so-needed right now. I truly think the world would be a better place if more people listened to this podcast.

A book that has incredibly impacted my life is The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung. Since being able to read a clear explanation of the actual science and clinicals behind intermittent fasting and then being able to test it out in my own daily life, I’ve been able to reap the benefits of consistent energy, clarity of thought, healthier labs and more. I’ve recommended this book to so many people — especially when they’re noticing an issue with elevate blood sugar.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As it has become normal and almost prioritized for many people to find importance in characteristics we are born with (ie, gender, race, ethnicity, etc.) via tribalism, I would love to remind people that in order for us to all come together, we need to identify as a human first. If we can start from a place of common ground, I believe that more of us could more easily find community and thus, hopefully, happiness (the two are usually linked in studies). I don’t have that strategy on a movement, but I try to practice what I preach as much as possible: we are human first.

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

Be kind. Say thank you. It’s just the right thing to do… and it doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people, so we should all make this a priority and hopefully positively impact others in our presence.

How can our readers follow you online?

I enjoy sharing industry news & sometimes silly, personal thoughts on Twitter (@danawardonline) & you can find tons of wellness tips & calming photography on Instagram (@danaward & @barefootscientist). Thank you!!

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