…as a Founder, you need more stamina than you think you need to run your company. Self-care is extremely important, and it’s really difficult to prioritize when there is so much coming at you. Don’t give in, no matter what, to a cycle of less than ideal self-care. You need to be able to play the long game in business, and that requires a body and mind that is fit enough to go the distance.
I had the pleasure to interview Jeannie Jarnot. Jeannie is the founder of Beauty Heroes; a Bay Area-based healthy beauty service and online beauty store. A long time eco-preneur, Jeannie is proud to be leading the charge about shifting the clean beauty conversation to go beyond what a brand stands for to include how that brand is giving back. While we’re all familiar with “going green” and the significance it has on our environment, Jeannie is now encouraging consumers to move onto the next phase of clean beauty by “going blue” and taking intentional actions with our beauty that can positively impact the community, oceans, air, and planet-at-large.
Thank you so much for joining us Jennie! Can you tell a story about what brought you to a specific career path?
Entrepreneurship wasn’t my career path. I studied hospitality management at Cornell University and had a successful career as a Spa Director. I had a simple idea that developed from frustrations I was seeing and experiencing from consumers, as well as in my own life, with the beauty discovery process. I wanted to create a service that would slow down the beauty discovery process and help women, like myself, discover healthy beauty one hero product at a time. I sat on this idea for a long time, before I knew it, I just had to do something. Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t something I took lightly; it was a definitive calling that I followed after a lot of contemplation.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I think one of the most interesting things that happened was about a year into starting Beauty Heroes. We launched the company with the name Spa Heroes, it made sense with my background in the spa industry. I had the trademark for Spa Heroes and Beauty Heroes but thought that Spa Heroes was a great name for the company. One day, three separate people told me the name was confusing. People thought we were a spa. I remember sitting across a colleague at lunch, talking about this, and I mentioned I had recently secured the trademark for Beauty Heroes. She looked at me and told me, “Jeannie, you have to change the name of the company to Beauty Heroes.” Instantly, I knew she was right, and I felt two things. First, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it myself, and second, I was nervous about the name change and all that needed to be done to be able to change the name of the company. Ultimately, I ripped off the band-aid quickly and did a full name and identity change in 30 days. As an entrepreneur your accountable for such weighty decisions, and, it’s fun to be able to make a decision, and put it in motion and execute, and realize a result.
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 I started the company, I had a very simple idea of what I wanted Beauty Heroes to deliver — an unparalleled discovery experience for truly healthy beauty in a focused and intentional way. That was really all I wanted to accomplish. I was speaking to a friend in the industry who asked me if we were going to have an e-commerce store for our customers to be able to replenish the Hero products they discovered through Beauty Heroes. I told her I didn’t think so, that wasn’t part of my plan. Thankfully, she set me straight and told me I had to. I can’t imagine our business without our e-commerce store. And now, we are opening our first brick and mortar. I often think back to that conversation.
Can you describe how your organization is making a significant social impact?
I think there are a few ways that Beauty Heroes is making an impact in the beauty industry. First, our model was disruptive in the beauty subscription business by choosing to focus on just one brand, one full-size Hero product, plus a trial of another product from the brand, at a time. This was unheard of when we launched, and it took a while to convey that we were trying to inspire women to valueless, but better beauty and personal care products. Beyond that, our non-toxic ingredients and beauty vetting standard have raised the bar for what a company can and should expect from brands. We have the most stringent ingredient standard in beauty, going beyond vetting ingredients for toxicity to our bodies, but also to the environment. Microplastic and silicone ingredients are very common in beauty, and they are toxic to our environment. By turning down partnership opportunities from brands who are not yet meeting our standards, we are seeing a shift. Brands will change their formulations and come back to us, letting us know that they have made an improvement in order to meet our standard. In addition to toxicity, we also vet brands for their efforts to be what I call a “Blue Beauty” brand, which I define as a brand that goes beyond green and has initiatives to contribute back to our environment in several ways. We have instituted a criterion for this internally as a part of our vetting process.
Beyond that, we are really embracing and celebrating the zero-waste movement in a way that feels accessible, we call it “Living Lighter”. We are helping our community discover ways they can live lighter on the planet without sacrifice through lifestyle products and tools that are effective and create less, or zero, waste. Beyond that, we do partner with 5 Gyres, a non-profit that researches and educates on the global ocean plastic crisis.
Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted this cause?
I can’t name brand names, but we have quite a long list of brands that we have turned away due to an ingredient concern that was toxic for the environment, who have come back to us after completely overhauling the brand to remove that ingredient. This was not at all my ‘mission’ when I started Beauty Heroes. I never expected this to be through the standards and values I wanted to embody as a company. It’s been a really special development to see brands want to work with us enough that they would spend a lot of money to reformulate and repackage their product to meet our standards. This impacts all of us. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to change the industry, and it’s really amazing to witness the power we have if we stay true to our core values. When they do this, we really champion them.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
I think that politicians need to take a stand for the environment, at every turn. The care of our environment should be a non-partisan issue, and we are so shortsighted to not make it a priority. Voters need to be tougher on politicians, pressing them on how they will stand up for the environment in their positions.
As a community, we need to embrace less waste and make shifts in our purchasing decisions and rate of consumption. There are a lot of small things we can do that can make a big impact. We need to vote with our dollars and turn away from products that have excessive packaging or harmful ingredients. And we need to be vocal about it when we do, telling companies that we would love to use their product but decided not to and for what reason. We need to take these extra steps to demonstrate the demand by the consumer.
And, we need to support companies that are delivering on innovation and alternatives that are lighter on the environment. When you find a company or product that works, is lighter on the environment and has good values, be an early adopter and spread the word. Consumers drive adoption and innovation.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I define leadership as being able to make the hard decisions, the ones that might be good for the bottom line but don’t compromise the company’s values and integrity in one way or another. Additionally, I define leadership as being able to withstand the pressure of being accountable for all the decisions of the company, including the mistakes. It’s also the ability to pivot, quickly and unapologetically as necessary.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
I am trying to think of what the five things would be that I wish someone told me. I feel like I heard everything when I was considering starting Beauty Heroes. Many people advised me not to start a company, that it’s harder than you think. I think that I listened to a lot of people when I was first starting Beauty Heroes and implemented all the advice that at the time seemed good and relevant. Looking back, I think that the mistakes I made were all somewhat unavoidable and have helped us learn more about ourselves and our company.
There is one thing, however, that I wish someone really emphasized for me — and that is that as a Founder, you need more stamina than you think you need to run your company. Self-care is extremely important, and it’s really difficult to prioritize when there is so much coming at you. Don’t give in, no matter what, to a cycle of less than ideal self-care. You need to be able to play the long game in business, and that requires a body and mind that is fit enough to go the distance.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I believe that Beauty Heroes is inspiring a movement towards conscious consumption in beauty. We, as consumers, need to embrace a culture of buying less, buying better and buying bluer. My hope is that Beauty Heroes will be an example of a company that was successful by fully embracing this approach to our marketing, messaging and the way we interact with our customers. I think consumers will be loyal to companies that genuinely care about the environment and your wallet, not trying to ‘sell you’ but rather inspire healthy transformation and deliver products and services that improve our lives while putting the planet first.
I remember when we first started delivering our monthly subscription with just one brand, and one full-size Hero product + Sidekick product. It was a disruptive concept as up until that time a subscription box meant that you get a box full of lots of little products and samples. We were disruptive and it was hard to explain why this might be a good way to discover beauty. I would hear from customers who would ask us, “…one product, one brand…what’s the fun in that?” We got a lot of questions about our model, what happens if I don’t like the product? What if I have an allergy to an ingredient? We had to answer all these questions and it took a lot of time to earn our customers trust. Fast forward to now, and beauty brands are following in our footsteps, recognizing that consumers want a quality-over-quantity experience that aligns with their values.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Martha Beck said this in one of her articles in O Magazine years ago. I have it printed on a board next to my desk:
“Any way you slice it, today’s world is going to ask for everything you can give. Make your first priority your own well-being if only to serve the greater good.”
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Yes! I would love to sit down with Yvon Chouinard, the Founder of Patagonia and talk to him about using business for good. He’s written several books detailing Patagonia’s journey to how they have become the company they are today. I would love to talk to him about how Beauty Heroes could make the most impact on our business, I am sure there would be a lot I could learn from him.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am one of those Founders who loves social media. I could do it all day. You can follow us on Instagram @BeautyHeroes on Twitter @BeautyHeroes and on Facebook here. And, you can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Linked In. Thanks so much for such a thoughtful interview.