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“Commit to listening.” With Candice Georgiadis & Iva Teixeira

I believe the most important thing we should commit to doing is listening. When we truly listen, we learn what others need. An example of this is how the Good Face Project is quickly becoming a preferred employer for mothers. Long before the pandemic, we began providing moms on our team with remote work arrangements […]

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I believe the most important thing we should commit to doing is listening. When we truly listen, we learn what others need. An example of this is how the Good Face Project is quickly becoming a preferred employer for mothers. Long before the pandemic, we began providing moms on our team with remote work arrangements and flexible hours. We strive to listen well and not assume what people mean, but to verify, and do our part to help.


As a part of our series about strong women leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Iva Teixeira.

At the age of 19, Iva Teixeira immigrated to the United States from Bulgaria with $3,000 in her account. Supporting her way through school, Iva gained graduate degrees in engineering and business, and went on to a strategy consulting career at the prestigious Bain & Co where she advised large beauty brands in the areas of strategy, marketing and sales. Iva was eventually named SVP of Operations at PAR8O, where she was directly responsible for scaling the team to deliver on everything from client acquisitions and strategic partnerships, to insights and analytics. Since then, she has teamed up with a number of venture-backed technology companies to deliver scale and commercial success.

In January 2018, Iva co-founded The Good Face Project, the world’s largest data-driven index of cosmetic ingredients, where she currently serves as CEO. Through powerful AI algorithms, The Good Face Project’s technology is able to analyze cosmetic ingredients and products across 15 different dimensions of safety, effectiveness, and benefits to provide consumers with clean, completely personalized, and immediately shoppable beauty and skincare recommendations. In July 2020, The Good Face Project was welcomed into the Target Tech Accelerator, furthering Iva’s mission to fix the broken beauty industry through technology

Iva holds a BS in Mathematics & Business Administration from Marian University, an MS in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from University of Michigan, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two children.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Iam originally from Bulgaria, and came to the US alone at the age of 19, with $3,000 borrowed from family friends in my pocket. I am an immigrant in the truest sense of the word, my American experience having left me with roots, memories and strong friendships in Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, and, now, California.

I put myself through college, and pursued higher education, gaining Masters Degrees from University of Michigan, and an MBA at Harvard University. I advised Fortune 100 leaders, and Big Beauty companies as a Bain Strategy Consultant, and later had the opportunity to scale venture-backed technology startups. That is how I discovered my passion for solving important problems through technology.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

At the Good Face Project, we use Artificial Intelligence and science to bring confidence and joy back to shoppers when discovering beauty and personal care products. Our algorithms are authored by my co-founder, Lena Skliarova-Mordvinova, and the story of our partnership is definitely worth sharing in terms of interesting stories!

I had identified the opportunity to deliver clean and personalized beauty and personal care advice to shoppers, and had already begun forming an early team when a mentor introduced me to Lena. At the time, she was looking to join a startup as a Data Scientist. We arranged to meet at a public event, and as soon as we began speaking with each other, both of us just knew we were meant to work together. Since then, our partnership has flourished, and our rich relationship will undoubtedly extend beyond our company’s success.

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?

When we first began speaking with investors, we had a meeting with a very high profile and influential firm. The founder of that fund took the meeting with us. After digging deeply into our opportunity and business model, he looked quite content, and said, “I like this deal, but it’s too early for us. We like to invest in later rounds.” Lena and I looked at each other and said, “We are going to be one-and-done. So, this is your only chance.” The guy looked at us and started laughing uncontrollably. He was right to do so! We are now speaking with him again, for our latest round of funding. You see, a direct-to-consumer technology that has proven its business model MUST access capital and grow, in order to improve as many lives as possible, otherwise it’s value proposition is hollow.

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?

The best support that my team and I have received, so far has been from a group of tech investors and mentors at a San Diego incubator, called EvoNexus. EvoNexus specializes in supporting entrepreneurs who build deep technology. Especially remarkable in that group is Kim Davis King, a legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist with a tremendous track record helping entrepreneurs build strong businesses. Kim has been an amazing confidant and champion.

As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

In early stage ventures, every day presents new problems and the opportunity to feel really inadequate when solving them. For me, the most important prep is getting an early start of the day and having quiet time for myself. I usually wake up at 5:00 am, do some yoga, and then go for a long walk. Lately, I have been incorporating calls with my parents, or my brother, both of whom live far away.

As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

No matter how hard we try, we can rarely see through another person’s eyes, or experience the world in their skin. The only way to build businesses that serve all is to engage and represent all on one’s team. It’s as simple as that.

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

I believe the most important thing we should commit to doing is listening. When we truly listen, we learn what others need. An example of this is how the Good Face Project is quickly becoming a preferred employer for mothers. Long before the pandemic, we began providing moms on our team with remote work arrangements and flexible hours. We strive to listen well and not assume what people mean, but to verify, and do our part to help.

Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

As a CEO, I must remember that every person on our team has the choice to keep quiet, or be candid, and do the right thing or not. Modeling for the team the behaviors that will make us better individuals, and a better team, is my number one job.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

I find the myth that a CEO has it all figured out especially disempowering. You see, the CEO’s job is to empower her team to figure it out!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

My upbringing in a household where my parents were equal partners in everything in life was extremely liberating, but it may have rendered me blind to gender differences in the workplace. So, I am not the best person to delve into this.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I draw energy from my work, and I jump into the actual work too quickly to be able to imagine it in advance. There is no substitute for the real experience.

Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?

There are many different types of successful executives — the turnaround CEO, the large company CEO, the growth CEO, and the startup CEO. I can speak with confidence only about the latter. The only skill the startup CEO must master is to be brave enough to suck at something new and stick with it until that is no longer the case.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

Don’t be afraid to be yourself while delivering the goods!

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I believe that kindness is not innate. Rather, it’s modeled and acquirable. I believe that showing kindness on my team begets kindness in team member homes and beyond.

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

If I could, I would erase all child suffering, and would make it so that no child ever feels alone, threatened or unloved.

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